Links 8/21/08


  1. doc holiday

    Obvious reference to Niklas Luhmann:

    A system is defined by a boundary between itself and its environment, dividing it from an infinitely complex, or (colloquially) chaotic, exterior. The interior of the system is thus a zone of reduced complexity: Communication within a system operates by selecting only a limited amount of all information available outside. This process is also called "reduction of complexity." The criterion according to which information is selected and processed is meaning (in German, Sinn). Both social systems and psychical or personal systems (see below for an explanation of this distinction) operate by processing meaning.
    Furthermore, each system has a distinctive identity that is constantly reproduced in its communication and depends on what is considered meaningful and what is not. If a system fails to maintain that identity, it ceases to exist as a system and dissolves back into the environment it emerged from. Luhmann called this process of reproduction from elements previously filtered from an over-complex environment autopoiesis (pronounced "auto-poy-E-sis"; literally: self-creation), using a term coined in cognitive biology by Chilean thinkers Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. Social systems are autopoietically closed in that they use and rely on resources from their environment; yet those resources do not become part of the systems' operation. Both thought and digestion are important preconditions for communication, but neither appears in communication as such.
    Luhmann likens the operation of autopoiesis (the filtering and processing of information from the environment) to a program, making a series of logical distinctions (in German,Unterscheidungen). Here, Luhmann refers to the British mathematician G. Spencer-Brown's logic of distinctions that Maturana and Varela had earlier identified as a model for the functioning of any cognitive process. The supreme criterion guiding the "self-creation" of any given system is a defining binary code. This binary code, is not to be confused with the computers operation: Luhmann (following Spencer-Brown and Gregory Bateson) assumes that auto-referential systems are continuously confronted with the dilemma of disintegration/continuation. This dilemma is framed with an ever-changing set of available choices; everyone of those potential choices, can be the system's selection or not (a binary state, selected/rejected). The influence of Spencer-Brown's book, "Laws of Form," on Luhmann cannot be overestimated.

    >> Luhmann is Theory A, Theory B which was rejected, was based on the unemployed (or under-employed) cats on the top row, which are outside the employment matrix. It got too weird…

  2. dh

    But wait, there was more thing, Re: a zone of reduced complexity…

    Self-reference is a condition for the efficient functioning of systems. It means that a system is able to observe itself, can reflect on itself and can make decisions as a result of this reflection. In Luhmann’s theory, the chief task performed by social systems is to reduce complexity, which brings more choices and more possibilities; it takes more noes to reach a “yes”.

  3. doc holiday

    Re: Links: Obama's Geek Economist MIT Technology Review (hat tip reader Bruce)l A profile of Austan Goolsbee

    "When productivity increases in any given segment of an economy, wages rise there, and this spills over into relatively unskilled workers' pay. Picture a hospital, where there are high-skilled doctors, high-tech machinery needing experts to run it, middle-skilled nurse practitioners, and low-skilled people working in the cafeteria."

    However, he continues, the trends of recent times have been disturbing: "The inequality and stagnation of incomes for 75 to 85 percent of ordinary Americans is a massive problem." Without income mobility and more investment in education, America could become a permanently stratified society. "Hence, the central issue confronted by Obama's economic program is, How do we address the squeeze on ordinary Americans? Because the barriers could become impermeable."

    Creative Destruction
    "In 1910," Goolsbee says, "if someone could have gone back and told people then how many phone lines would exist today in the U.S., they'd have responded that that was physically impossible, because every American would need to be a telephone exchange operator. That few switchboard operators exist today, nevertheless, isn't a sign that all those people are unemployed. The labor economist Alan Krueger at Princeton has studied what share of the highest-paying occupations are occupation codes that didn't exist in the 1980 census. The figure is very substantial. There's always job churn." Continual job destruction and creation, Goolsbee insists, is healthy.

    >> >This kinda links to the previous crap I posted from Luhmann, for what it's worth??

  4. Richard Kline

    So doc: “This dilemma is framed with an ever-changing set of available choices; everyone of those potential choices, can be the system’s selection or not (a binary state, selected/rejected).” Mirroring a binary divergence is _a_ way of filtering information from the environement; it is not the only way; arguably, it is not the most signficant way. Categorical responses allow shades of effect and zones of influence to be modeled. Even fairly simple systems can use part-whole, central-peripheral type categorical reference to filter information at organizationally significant levels. The human nervous system is NOT a binary processor, for example; patently, it categorizes. The real significance of Maturana and Varela’s work, and otheres of their era, is that self-organized and auto-catalytic models that they worked with theoretically and practically marked a move away from strictly ‘cybernetic’ binary representations to ones with more nuance, specfically drawing on instances of organization in organic systems. . . . Just thought I’d point that out. : )

  5. doc holiday


    Re: Organic systems & "Categorical responses allow shades of effect and zones of influence to be modeled."

    That late addition of background of Goolsbee is suddenly a little interesting, because in many ways, The Obama and arguably The McCain camps are self organizing entities. Thus this premise that these camps would be self-referencing system, which, "the interior of the system is thus a zone of reduced complexity".

    This makes me think that once your in the system or accepted as being within that environmental circle, you have a place in that circle, maybe like a bee in a hive, where your on a need to know basis, and the more you think you know the less you know. This is where polarity is born and breed with sides that divide into two camps which have two viewpoints. The Queen (Bush, Obama, Mccain) can signal a split within the hive and sometimes, bees are left out of that loop.

    Maybe that is what this cat picture is about, i.e, the cats in the loop have the same information and the cats on the higher level have more efficient info!

    Now I'm really pissed off…

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