Comment to David Braden’s post in Living Systems
MATERIAL CYCLES. The creation, flow, reproduction, annihilation of “information” follows quite different laws than the flow of matter/energy. Innovation changes material flow patterns, sometime quite radically. “The Infinite Resource” by Ramez Naam makes a strong case for the power of innovation. Information flows are not in closed loops. Human Systems are more than Living Systems (more than biological); although the term “living system” could be re-defined.
I propose a strong version: that with humans and written language, information is liberated from being embedded in matter/energy systems. A material substrate is needed, but the patterns of symbolism are independent of the substrate. I speculate this is a unique phenomenon in the cosmos, which fundamentally alters the nature of the “universe”. Material systems are also significant as scaffolding for information flows, and information flows are essential for the design of such material systems. I discuss this in my blog posts, NU GENESIS .
Information flows are essential for the propagation of closed loop technologies for material cycles. Cybernetics (primarily Second Order) is our first stab at comprehending this new reality domain. Learning II & III occur in the information domain. Learning I, although involving information, occurs without use of written languages – as it represents all learning in biological systems. A categorization model for learning that takes this difference into account would be more complex than Bateson’s three levels.
There is a variety of different “system thinkers”. Proper system thinking would necessarily include the dance of intimates, as “whole” systems must be studied. I agree that many systems thinkers have a top-down bias. My model for the success of UPLIFT it critically dependent on the flowing dance of intimates, supported and constrained by Bootstrap UPLIFT Scaffolding. BUS is a material system containing information and structured to seaf (support, enable, augment, facilitate) information flow. And, in cycles, BUS guides the galdee (growth, adaptation, learning, development, evolution, emergence) of BUS systems. BUS interfaces with the material world. UPLIFT is an attempt to integrate material and information flows.
In my conceptualizations and terminology, communities are the holon level for intimate dancing – as David states. This doesn’t distract or make less important the patterns of community-community interactions. Humankind has yet to innovate patterns for societies (systems of communities) where the communities are radically different – they all haven’t come from an original community reproducing similar communities [e.g., nations of tribes]. In the holon model, communities are the components of societies, not persons. In an “ideal” analogy, biological cells are analog for community and organelles are analog for the mini-holarchy (person/family/clan – with analog: bead molecule / chain molecule / molecular fabric).
But, it is much more complex when we leave the “ideal” nested hierarchy (holarchy) and infuse/embed them with networks. Holons can be members of both holarchies and networks – a model I label “ecology”. At this level it becomes clearer that “systems” are constructs human impose to help organized their experiences. What is “objectively out there” can be “more than” what fits our constructs.