Systems perspectives as different ways of seeing, organizing, and understanding the world

| It’s not what you see. It’s how you see it. | What we see as a system, and how we understand the interactions of its parts in relationship to the whole, is a function of our own perspective. By changing our perspective, we can conceptually reorganize the same phenomenon as different types of systems […]

Connecting the dots: The organization of interaction in centralized, decentralized, and distributed networks

| Comparing types of network design | In the early 1960s, as an introduction to a series of memoranda entitled “On Distributed Communications,” Baran made the case for shifting existing communication systems from analog-based, hierarchically organized networks to an innovative, digital, distributed type of network. He maintained that the greater connectivity and localized control of […]

Systems of organization: Ladders, webs, and fractals as organizing structures

If we look carefully, we can see systems literally everywhere. But what exactly are we looking for? Why does our perspective matter? And how do different perspectives affect how we think about the world? There are all kinds of systems: physical (mechanical, infrastructure, environmental, physiological), social (political, economical, legal, health care), informational (ideological, mathematical, linguistic). […]

danah boyd (Web2.0 Expo) | Streams of content, limited attention: The flow of information through social media

For the last few centuries, we have been living in an era of broadcast media, but we have been switching to an era of networked media. This fundamentally alters the structure by which information flows. As networked technologies proliferate around the world, we can assume that there is a channel of distribution available to everyone […]

How culture affects the ways we learn to organize the world

Culture, perspective, and systems In this 2012 Clever Apes: Nature and Human Nature podcast, scientists described research comparing the ways Native and non-Native children learn to think about the world. Although non-Native children’s thinking involved hierarchical categories (organizing by type), Native children’s thinking involved ecological or “systems-level” principles (organizing by relationships). These represent very different […]

The power of networks: Knowledge in an age of infinite interconnectedness | Manuel Lima

I’m going to talk today about the power of networks and the challenge of mapping an increasingly complex world. And I’m actually gonna start this talk with trees…This widespread metaphor it’s so so popular because it really expresses a human desire for order, for symmetry, for hierarchy, for simplicity, for balance and unity. Trees are […]