Blog 19. Making Ideology Conscious

Ideology = ideas

Ideology is the body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual person, group, or culture.  Laws are based in ideology.  A law tells what must be done or must not be done, how or how not to do it.  A law is intended to restrict or to promote a situation.  That situation reflects somebody’s ideal, even if it is a tax break for a particular party, money for education, or a prohibition of a private sexual act.  Therefore, all laws are based in prejudice of some form, a pre-judgement of what’s best and what’s worst for somebody.  Continue reading

Blog 14. Review of Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows

 

The book’s origin.

In previous blogs, I’ve noted that economy, culture, and political governance are complex systems, displaying known system behaviors. Donella Meadows’ book, Thinking in Systems (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008),  presents crucial insights regarding the complex systems inherent in society. Meadows was a lead author of the 1972 volume Limits to Growth. She drafted Thinking in Systems about 1992. The book was published posthumously with editing by her colleague, Diana Wright. I’ll outline some of Wright’s and Meadows’ thoughts here, including a few terms and examples of my own. Continue reading

Blog 13. Models and modeling

What’s modeling?

A model is an abstraction, a physical abstraction of an object or a conceptual abstraction of a situation.  An architect might use a cardboard physical model to illustrate a proposed building.  Conceptual models can represent complex systems like population dynamics, economics, or schooling fish.  By “complex systems” I mean the things described in Blog 2 and Blog 3, situations with many independent agents governed by nonlinear rules of interaction among the agents and their surroundings.  A conceptual model often takes the form of a set of equations with which the system can be simulated by computer, thereby becoming a “computer model.”  Note I said simulated by computer, not solved by computer.   Continue reading

Blog 2. Complex Systems: Definition

 

What’s a system?

A system is two or more things acting on each other.  Like a weight bouncing on a spring.  The weight pushes on the spring and the spring pushes back on the weight, with the result that the weight can bounce up and town.  That’s a simple system.  The scientific concept of complex systems arose during the last twenty years as the advances in computers enabled scientists to investigate nonlinear systems.  Continue reading

Blog 1. Change and technology

So it’s changing.   So what?

So what?  I see the world changing, largely due to technologies that few people understand and even fewer feel empowered to control. The world has always been changing, but now the rate of change is proportional to the sum of all changes that have occurred before. That’s what we mean by the term, “exponential,” a term used so often in the media that it is accepted as meaning “large,” without the understanding that it means larger than large.  The purpose of these pages is to offer an analytical review of where we’ve come, and where we’re going, and why. The WHY is embedded in the unnoticed rules by which humans affect each other. Understanding the rules by which the individual parts affect each other—that’s the key to understanding and to controlling complex systems, about which these pages will say more. Continue reading