Mind the CAN

or CAN Design?
is more of a puzzle page.

The puzzle is to find a new metaphor for the spaces that we design and create, to facilitate knowledge sharing and development. It should not be rationalist, nor 'sytems' in the IS sense, nor just 'post-modernist', and not even just CAS's (Complex Adaptive Systems), but CAN's and 'pluri-cologies'.... .

The more I think about CANs (Complex Adaptive Networks) or CASs in the biological sense (which includes Homo S. of course), the more I think that when you add the Internet to the mix, the fabic of space-time becomes so much more multi-dimensional. It goes something like ths ...

Imagine spacetime in what is now a fairly 'standard' graphic representation .... (courtesy of wikipedia)


i.e. as an 'elastic mat' which masses (like the blue planet, above) indent, and create a gravitational curvature or a hollow into which passing objects fall, if they come close enough, and are travelling slowly enough. If not, they go straight past, in their own 'groove'.

Then ...
  • Zoom in to one of the Homo S's on the blue planet.
  • Picture your H.S. on a micro-space-time mat of their own, using a local/global device like a cellphone or an Internet device of their choice.
  • When they create a virtual space via txt, cell-phone, internet chat, etc, you will have to add another elastic space-time 'mat', or in fact add more than one. This could get badly 'matted' (excuse the bad pun) if you have all these mats operating at the same time (as they do).
  • It might be easier (?) to imagine the additional space-time mats in parallel space-times, rather than trying to lay them on top of each other, or interlace them, all together in a single space-time. And you will, sooner or later, have to add both synchronous and asynchronous additional space-time mats anyway, so best create some parallel space-times right from the start.
  • See if the 'haiku' helps...

Cellular life, version #2
    • Mobile phone create
    • elastic entangled presences
    • txts pop up in two minds
    • or is it one?
(from the Zen Tracks blog of 4th Feb 2005)

The puzzle comes down to this:

If we add virtual spaces, and more particularly virtual spaces within virtual micro-global networks, how does that change our notion of Complex Adaptive Systems - how do we represent the new ecology, or pluri-cology?

I think we need to start along these lines ...

1. The basics are CAS: self-organising behaviour of actor-networks that have identity, and for my money, self-maintaining identity, which is characterised by, amongst other things, local interaction and global entailment, giving rise to non-predictable (but possibly retrospectively cohesive) behaviour, in which the elements - the actor-networks, are not necessarily conscious or even aware of all the other actor-networks, let alone the entire 'system'.

2. That means that 'system' [as in CASystem] is starting to get in the way, and maybe we need a new term. 'CANetwork' is a step up, but it still has an IS taste to it.

3. We might step back, and have a look at:
  • Karin Cetina 's 'non-Weberian' micro-global networks, and
  • Cetina's insistence on 'institutional lightness'.
  • Feedback and transparency rather than control (which contributed to the end of the Coldwar, and to SALT, no?)
  • Retrospective cohesion in more than one, parallel, space-time, or mind-space.
  • Examples of Self-organising and self-regulating behaviour (e.g. netiquette, which is pretty much self-regulating now), self-learning (Hole in the Wall project, Txting), and 'Mind' rather then System - minds are virtual, dynamic, multi-dimensional spaces: hence 'mind-spaces'
  • The notion of elastic space/time, each actor-network creating and reconfiguring their own elastic spaces.
  • A different fabric of time-space:
    • The Hole in the Wall project as a way of giving children a 'hole in global fabric' that they can see into, and put their 'fingers' (followed by minds) into.
    • Ferral actor-networks (cyber bullies)
  • Emergence rather than e-volution: i.e. adaptability, with (Deacon's) de-volution too, (and see the Naked Streets initiatives)
  • Increasingly adaptive rather than (necessarily) increasingly complex.
  • Spaces as actor-networks in their own right, see:
  • The globally-networked world as an evolving organism, with a Mind of its own, which none of us can fully 'know'.

That takes us to Complex Adaptive Minds, CAMs, and to a Pluricology of Mind (with deference to Bateson) but the terminological innovation is possibly disappearing up its own event horizon at this stage, so maybe it's best to leave it there.

4. Cetina's insitence on Institutional Lightness

There are some interesting links here: Cetina is concerned with a move from a paradigm of management predtion-and-control to a more facilitating management paradigm.

There are links to the hardware, to wit: there is a sequence from literally casting value added (heavy Industrial Age machinery), to embedding value added (early cybernetics and feedback IS), to flexible (just-in-time and just4U) client-driven value added. The next step is a fusion: what might be called global DNA, or global 'algo-memes': the emergence of algorithmic share-ware, which via the Internet becomes a global algorithmic repository, the ultimate meta-commodity bank. Unfortunately some of the paradigms for this are texts like the Anarchist Cookbook, and the Anthrax genome, i.e. potential 'ferral genies'.

This amounts to what I would call 'garage tech' or what Ken Newman calls 'Punk Production': reasonably high tech artefacts being made in virtual space, or zero-institutional enviroments.