Problems of ...

conferences organised by

Center for Innovation and Co-operative Technology
at the
University of Amsterdam

Please email problemsof@cict.demon.co.uk if you want to purchase proceedings (Systemica special issues)


Problems of Individual Emergence (2001)

Problems of Participation and Connection (1999)

Problems of Action & Observation (1997)

Problems of Excavating Cybernetics and Systems (1995)

Problems of Values and (In)variants (1993)

Problems of Support, Survival and Culture (1991)

Mutual Uses of Cybernetics and Science (1989)

Problems of (Im)possible Worlds (1987)

Problems of (Dis)appearing Knowledge (1985)

Problems of Actors and Actions (1983)

Problems of Levels and Boundaries (1981)

Problems of Context (1979)

Problems of Individual Emergence

April 16-20, 2001 inclusive -Amsterdam

Conference site - Agnietenkapel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231
Sponsored by:
UK Cybernetics Society
Systeemgroep Nederland
Lincoln Research Centre
Center for Innovation and Co-operative Technology of the University of Amsterdam

General

Biannually a confer-ence is held in Amster-dam to consider, in a free and generous spirit, questions that prove fundamental to research (in new as well estab-lished as areas). These prestigious meetings are enti-tled: "Problems of ". The 12th meeting, in 2001, will explore Problems of Individual Emergence.

Individual emergence refers to the reverse of collective emergence, i.e. the phenomenon that the sum of the parts may be more than the whole. The aim of the conference is to study what permits parts to be or become more than any whole constituted of these parts.

Individuals in composites or collectives often de-velop new or improved values, abilities and properties they are not otherwise able to develop. That such qualities sometimes complement, or even conflict with, each other appears due to the possibility that individuals are part of many collectives at the same time.

Qualities defined by composites or collectives apparently include the ability to behave intelligently, take initiatives, be compassionate, use and develop languages, show observer-effects in experiments-as may be argued on the basis of their opposites, i.e. people on occasion behaving as wolves to each other (homo homini lupus).

We propose to convene and discuss advances in the study of individual emergences, or the emer-gence of individual events, abilities and properties, as well as methodological frameworks and research designs that allow such study.

Previous meetings

The topic takes a natural place in the "Problems of " se-ries: Context (1979), Levels and Boundaries (1981), Actors and Actions (1983), (Dis)appearing Knowledge (1985), (Im)possible Worlds (1987), Support, Survival and Culture (1991), Values and (In)variants (1993), Excavating Cybernetics and Systems (1995), Action and Observation (1997), Participation and Connection (1999). In 1989 the theme was for-mulated differently: Mutual Uses of Cybernetics and Science.

Copies of the proceedings of earlier conferences can be obtained from the Conference Co-ordinator. Please order them well in advance, so they are ready for you to collect at the conference.

Topic/Theme

The grand narrative of classical science suggests identifying which observations or reportable sense-data belong together, and hence focussing on the weakness of relations and interactions with the 'outside'. Test procedures require that such weak-nesses be weakened even more.

Recently, a second narrative has come to the fore. This aims to identify which observations or reportable sense-data influence each other suffi-ciently to constitute composites or collectives, and thus to focus on the strength of 'inside' relations and interactions. Test procedures require that such strengths be strengthened even more.

The first narrative usually is interpreted as re-ferring to a reality (possibly in parentheses) that appears separable or fragmentable, and hence may be studied part by (independent) part. The second refers to what is non-separable, requires new forms of study and is a (linguistic) complement of the first.

The 20th century may be thought of as the century of this second narrative. One of its most noted pioneers was Ludwig von Bertalanffy, who, with others, initi-ated the study of strongly interactive composites-systems, wholes, holons, collectives, conversations, practices, movements.

Studies of this kind still concentrate on proper-ties emerging at the level of the composites, while the elements retain (continue to 'own') their prop-erties. The meeting in 2001 emphasises properties emerging at the level of the elements, while the com-posites retain (continue to 'own') their properties.

Examples include state systems, communities, guilds, games, city and nature designs that help people to become and behave with more wit, intelligence, creativity, individual independence, and more fairly, responsibly and altruistically-or with more apathy, servility, cruelty.

Of special interest are collectives that provide virtual support, and transfer emergent properties or attributes to new situations even when the origi-nal elements and interactions are no longer avail-able or visible (habitus).

One may think of Stefan Zweig's chess player, who could play world class chess as long as the (composite) dialogue with himself remained intact.

Other examples include educational programs and systems of instructions (e.g. to lose weight, stop smoking or drinking, fall in love, stay sharp).

A large part of the discussions will be dedi-cated to exploring the research designs for and the results of studying individual emergent properties. Is it possible to study emergence by means of the second narrative, or only through the first?

Results of research include knowing how (in-cluding in the form of narratives) to realise com-posites, the members of which show desirable properties. Examples are showing wit, etc., but also the freedom to choose when and where to partici-pate (and change one's moral and other values) and whether to continue participation.

Other aspects to be considered include the costs of maintaining collectives or composites, the po-licing needed, resistance, rebellion and innova-tion and the number of collectives one chooses to be simulta-neously member of.

Aim of the meeting

The meeting is convened to explore how research may help us design stable interactive composites that induce desirable (attractive, positive, main-tainable) properties in its elements. Results and outcomes will be important to many areas of contemporary interest, and will stimulate new studies.

Suggestions

It is anticipated that contributors will present re-search (empirical, theoretical and practical) in which the notion of individual emergence is ex-plored. Contributions should emphasise general problems and aspects, rather than concentrate on the particular and special.

Of special interest are (proven) methods and systems that help induce wit, intelligence, courage, humour and other desirable personal and interac-tive properties-or prevent the emergence of nega-tive properties such as the non-collaborative exer-cise of power and brutality.

Timing and structure

To facilitate productive interaction at all levels of the Conference, the organisers intend to provide-as at previous meetings-a special and ap-propriate milieu and am-bience, organised around, and embodied in, five constituents.

Please note that each constituent above naturally reflects the theme of the conference!

Participation

Abstracts of proposed contributions, as well as reactions and suggestions on how to deal with the topic, should be received by January 30, 2001, (draft) full papers by March 30, 2001.

Acceptance is based on the quality of the ab-stracts. Final (revised) versions of papers, prepared after the conference, must be received by May 31, 2001 (style sheets will be issued at the conference).

Presentation in the conference should stimulate im-provement of the papers and is part of the refereeing procedure! Draft papers will be made available on CD, revised final papers will be published in Systemica, a refereed journal.

Participants who wish to contribute to the discussions without presenting a paper, are, of course, also welcome.

Further information

Please make arrangements for your stay well in advance: the Easter period is a busy time in Am-sterdam. The conference organisers cannot under-take to help with these arrangements.

Hotels in Amsterdam may be selected through http://www.holland-hotels.com/index.html, or by calling the Amsterdam Tourist Office (+ 31 20 5512525). Information may also be obtained from http://www.amsterdam.nl/e_index.html, or any travel agent.

Schiphol Amsterdam is one of the world's best connected airports (http://www.schiphol.nl). Alternatively, participants may consider using the excellent excellent train network throughout Europe (special tourist tickets are available).

Note that the Conference venue is in the centre of 'old' Amsterdam (the conference room has been in use for academic lectures since 1648). Website: http://www.bmz.amsterdam.nl/

Costs

Conference Fee: EURO325, or (US)$ 275. Please pay to Hr. G. de Zeeuw - inz. Problems of , Postal Giro, account 4535134, (no cheques, please!).

Correspondence
Co-ordinator PIE (Drs Martha Vahl)
Center for Innovation and Cooperative Technology
Faculty for Natural Science, Mathematics, Computer Science
Valckenierstraat 65
1018 XE AMSTERDAM
The Netherlands

 Website PIE: http://www.cict.demon.co.uk

The PIE Co-ordinator may also be reached:
PIE@cict.demon.co.uk (e-mail)
+44 870 052 2275 (fax).
In urgent cases you may wish to phone:
+31 20 423 1220 (or, in case of no response:)
+44 1522 546711

Conference Committee

Prof. Gerard de Zeeuw (University of Amsterdam)
Prof. Ranulph Glanville (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University)
Mrs. Joop Muller (University of Amsterdam)
Prof. Raul Espejo (University of Lincoln)
Dr Jan Kooistra (University of Utrecht)
Drs Martha Vahl (Lincoln Research Centre)

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1999 conference:

Problems of Participation and Connection

Conference to be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Monday April 5 to Friday April 9, 1999, inclusive

Supported by:

UK Cybernetics Society, Dutch Systems Group, Center for Innovation and Co-operative Technology, University of Amsterdam

General

Biannually, a conference is held in Amsterdam to consider, in a free and generous spirit, questions that emerge as fundamental to research. These prestigious meetings are entitled: "Problems of ". The 11th meeting, in 1999, aims to explore Problems of Participation and Connection.

Participation as part and in support of research is not a new topic. There is a long history of efforts to allow various groups a larger voice in the process of research­as users, beneficiaries, or affected. There also is a long list of 'frameworks', 'new paradigms', etc. What is new is that the more this list is added to, the more each item appears in need of revision, and the less convincing. A jump or at least some fundamental rethinking seems required.

Important concerns include the influence of the (scientific) observer on the observed, the adaptation of self-organising collectives to this and other influences, the need for individual entities to maintain sufficient space to shape local realities inside and outside such collectives. Traditional forms of research do not appear to provide sufficient variety to deal with these concerns.

There have been arguments that the frameworks needed require continuous redefinition and learning over time. This raises the question why frameworks as old 50 years (though still in use) haven't achieved what they aim for.

Earlier meetings

The topic takes a natural place in the series: Problems of Context (1979), Problems of Levels and Boundaries (1981), Problems of Actors and Actions (1983), Problems of (Dis)appearing Knowledge (1985), Problems of (Im) possible Worlds (1987), Problems of Support, Survival and Culture (1991), Problems of Values and (In)variants (1993), Problems of Excavating Cybernetics and Systems (1995), Problems of Action and Observation (1997). In 1989 a different theme was chosen: Mutual Uses of Cybernetics and Science.

Copies of the proceedings of earlier conferences can be obtained from the conference co-ordinator.

Topic/Theme

Participation normally takes the form of one or more members (or representatives) of a community, a company, a committee or a group of deprived or deprivileged people, being invited to get together. The aim is becoming sufficiently connected to solve a problem, take a decision, or develop a set of action plans. The work of the group may take a few days or weeks, the effects of their plans are expected to persist for months, years or even decades.

A large variety of approaches to improve on such participation is identified by rules on how to choose participants, get responses, combine and evaluate them and arrive at a final result. Some approaches aim to use observational variety among the participants, some to limit that variety. Usually, care is taken to compensate for any undemocratic and unethical effects the process of combination may have.

Important questions have been raised but remain unanswered, at least in part. What kind of exchange among participants gives rise to socially acceptable participation as well as results? Can the desired effects be guaranteed to occur? How does the exchange among the participants relate to how they later participate in their organisations, networks and communities?

Other questions concern the relation to research. Do these approaches constitute a form of research themselves, are they like research, are they the result of research, or can they be improved by research? Does their development require a new research paradigm, and if so, which one?

"New" paradigms often are claimed to be "constructive". They ask how people participate in the (nowadays often computer supported) negotiations leading to 'constructed' social events. Alternatively, what is sought is the framework that helps people limit their horizons to the point where, as a collective, they perform tasks effectively.

Others propose to study how the interactions guiding participation can be strengthened so they function as support systems, serving clients with a wide variety of aims. There also is an interest in what permits social and other horizons to continue to evolve and adapt.

Reflecting on these issues seems opportune for at least two important reasons. The most pressing is the observation that research on social phenomena has not led to sufficiently transferable and useful knowledge to resolve collective problems such as pollution, conflict, misuse of power, or to achieve desired forms of change. 'Proper' forms of participation may provide what is needed.

Another reason is the increasing awareness that research has reached a plateau and now must concentrate on the study of strongly connected collectives, and of the (technological or other) interfacing that is needed.

Aim of the meeting

The meeting is convened to explore ways of studying participation and its role in research where it can be improved upon. Results and outcomes will be important to many areas of contemporary interest, and stimulate new studies.

Suggestions

Contributors to the meeting are expected to present research­both empirical and theoretical­in which the notion of participation is explored. Contributions should deal with participation as a tool in research, or consider its practical effects.

Areas of interest include community development, innovation, adaptive systems, health and social care, Internet use, managing strong social actors. Another important area is information technology and its use in constructing interfaces.

The meetings on 'Problems of ' aims to provide opportunities to reflect on general concerns of research rather than on special and particular cases. The organisers aim to facilitate high quality discussions and thought.

Timing and structure

To facilitate productive interaction at all levels among participants, the Conference organisers intend to provide­as will be familiar from previous meetings­a special and appropriate milieu and ambience, organised around, and embodied in, four constituents.

* ways and means of discovering the pleasures and disappointments of meeting.
* paper and discussion sessions, where proper led by a distinguished thinker/contributor.
* a social milieu­culminating in frequent social events (supported by free drinks).
* no parallel sessions.

Participation

Abstracts of proposed contributions, as well as reactions and suggestions on how to deal with the topic, should be received by February 15, 1999, (draft) full papers by March 15, 1999.

Acceptance is based on the quality of the abstracts. Final (revised) versions of papers must be received by May 31, 1999 (style sheets will be issued during the conference).

Presentation in the conference should stimulate improvement of the papers and is part of the refereeing procedure! Draft papers will be made available on CD, final papers will be published in Systemica, a refereed journal.

Participants not wishing to present a paper, but only to contribute to the discussions, are, of course, also welcome.

Further information

Please make arrangements for your stay well in advance: the Easter period is a busy time in Amsterdam. The conference organisers cannot undertake to help with these arrangements.

Hotels in Amsterdam suit all tastes and pockets
(http://demon.co.uk/hotel-uk/amindex.html). Information may be obtained from the Dutch Tourist Office (http://www.nbt.nl/NBT-Welcome.html), or any travel agent.

Schiphol Amsterdam is one of the world's best connected airports (http://www.schiphol.nl). Alternatively, participants might consider using the excellent train network throughout Europe (special tourist tickets exist).

Note that the Conference venue is in the centre of central Amsterdam (the conference room has been in use for lectures since 1648).

Correspondence

Co-ordinator PPC (Mw drs Ilona Walraven)
Center for Innovation and Cooperative Technology
Faculty for Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy
Valckenierstraat 65
1018 XE AMSTERDAM
The Netherlands

Costs

Conference Fee: Dfl 550, or $(US) 275. Please pay to Postal Giro, account 4535134, "Problems of " (no cheques, please!).

Conference Committee

Prof. Gerard de Zeeuw (University of Amsterdam)
Mrs. Joop Muller (University of Amsterdam)
Dr. Felix Geyer (University of Amsterdam)
Prof. Raul Espejo (University of Lincoln)
Prof. Ranulph Glanville (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University)
Drs. Martha Vahl (University of Nijenrode)
Prof. Robbin Hough (Oakland University)
Dr. Jan Kooistra (University of Utrecht)
Drs. Ilona Walraven (PPC Co-ordinator)

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1997 Problems of Action & Observation

 

General

Biannually, conferences are organised in Amsterdam to consider, in a free and generous spirit, questions that emerge as both fundamental and difficult to answer. The meetings are entitled: "Problems of ". The organisers dedicate the 10th meeting, in 1997, to a review of the study of action, observation and their relationship.
In recent times, interest in the user has gained a high profile, especially in research: as someone who both uses its results (action-orientation), and contributes to the process of research (user involvement).
Traditionally, researchers invest much effort in separating the two kinds of orientation-by minimising user involvement, or action-orientation, or both.
This has resulted in a concentration on observation (and the introduction of the optical metaphor), where users are treated only as observables.
Another consequence is that action generally has disappeared from scrutiny. Action remains a mystery, at least to any researcher who tries to observe it: it evades prediction, precise description, control, and even identification. The user-as-actor has remained mostly invisible.
Since it appears that new approaches to action have become available since the 3rd "Problems of" meeting in 1983 ("Problems of Actors and Actions"), this seems a good moment to review and discuss these approaches.
The meeting aims to provide opportunities to do so in an environment that is both socially and intellectually supportive.

Earlier meetings

The proposed review takes a natural place in the series: Problems of Context (1979), Problems of Levels and Boundaries (1981), Problems of Actors and Actions (1983), Problems of (Dis)appearing Knowledge (1985), Problems of (Im)possible Worlds (1987), Problems of Support, Survival and Culture (1991), Problems of Values and (In)variants (1993), Problems of Excavating Cybernetics and Systems (1995). The theme in 1989 was formulated differently: Mutual Uses of Cybernetics and Science.
Copies of the proceedings of earlier conferences can be obtained from the conference co-ordinator.

About the Conference Organiser

The Conference is organised by the Center for Innovation and Cooperative Technology at the University of Amsterdam (CICT), at the invitation of the Dutch Systems Group. The Center supports the development of research institutions in various areas through advice, teaching and original research of its own.

Topic/Theme

The separation of observation and action in 17th century science constituted a major achievement. It allowed scientists, by seeming to exclude action, to concentrate on collecting observations, on improving them, and on finding ways of transferring them to others who might then use them in action.
The wheel of time seems to have come full circle since then. General interest has returned to the one area that was excluded: more and more effort is spent making action visible, and predicting and improving the next action, i.e. transferring what becomes visible.
Interestingly, this still proves difficult. Action remains the area of the unexpected, of the invisible, of that which changes without pattern. Stepping into that river still seems as unique as it was 2500 years ago!
This is not for want of effort. There have been attempts to study action through algorithms, production schemes, optimisations under constraints, games, decisions, systems of interacting components, the difference between mind and brain.
Although admirable in their complexity, these attempts have not made action as visible as physical processes. Differences remain: visibility is not achieved through prediction, but through support.
This seems to be the case especially in areas such as management, community development, social helping, architecture and other forms of cultivation. In each of these, 'better' action remains a mystery, the domain of gurus.
The exploration of the approaches already initiated should not stop, of course. For instance, one area where exploration continues is defined by the use of the notion of "system".
Nevertheless, it seems necessary to look at the broader picture: what made it necessary in the 17th century to exclude action from research, and what kindles the renewed interest in action now?
The reason may be a change in interest towards the unexpected rather than towards the expected and predictable.
This change itself induces a change in approach: one may prefer to study the unexpected by extracting the expected, rather than to study the unexpected in order to find the expected-as is traditionally done.
This approach benefits from the assumption that actions consist of series of events selected by an actor to constitute an action.
Since Heraclitus, people have tried to identify the 'logos' that made such events belong together-for example as the 'story' that links producible observations; as the 'other' actors that negotiate what belong together; as the 'languages' that punctuate the history of belonging together.
Research usually aims at identifying which events belong together and thus may be combined. If the reason, or 'logos', does not include being part of the action, the combined result will be a 'whole' event that might be part of any action. The question then becomes: how do the remaining events, after extraction, belong together?

Aim of the meeting

The meeting is convened to explore ways of studying action so that it can be improved upon. Results will be important to many areas of contemporary interest, and may stimulate many new studies.

Suggestions & participation

It is suggested that participants explore the notion of action, and the relation to how it is or has been studied in various areas of research.
The relation might be studied, for example in ecology, management, community development, health care-and also in (intuitive) mathematics, artifical life, survival studies, public administration and architecture.
What will be appreciated especially are presentations and methodological discussions based in studies in which the aim has been to improve on the qualities of observation, and on the (consequent) actions of individuals in one or more part(s) of a society.
The meetings on 'Problems of ' are intended to reflect on general concerns of research rather than on special and particular cases. The organisers are interested in high quality discussing and thinking.

Abstracts of proposed contributions, as well as reactions and suggestions on how to deal with the topic, should be received by January 15, 1997, full papers by March 1, 1997. Acceptance is based on the quality of the abstracts. Final versions must be received by May 30, 1997 (that is after the conference; style sheets will be issued at the conference. Presentation in the conference should stimulate the action of improving the papers presented!). Papers will be published in Systemica, a refereed journal.
Participants not wishing to present a paper, but only to contribute to the discussions, are welcome.

Timing and structure

To facilitate productive interaction among participants at all levels, the Conference organisers intend to provide-as is usual, and well-known from the previous nine meetings-a special and appropriate milieu and ambience, organised around, and embodied in, four constituents:

Further information

Costs
Conference Fee: Dfl 475, or $(US) 285.
Please pay to Postal Giro, account 4535134, "Problems of " (no cheques, please!).

The Conference organisers do not make travel or accommodation arrangements for participants. Hotels in Amsterdam suit all tastes and pockets (check out this website for general information about Amsterdam and its hotel accommodations). Further information may be obtained from your nearest travel agent or by consulting the Dutch Tourist Office via the web.
Schiphol (Amsterdam's international airport) is one of the world's best and best connected. One may also consider using the excellent train network throughout Europe (and the new Channel Tunnel), with an assortment of special tickets.
Please make arrangements well in advance: the Easter period is a busy time in Amsterdam.
The Conference venue will be within central Amsterdam, at the facilities of the University of Amsterdam (the lecture room has been in use as such since 1648).

Correspondence

Applications and requests for further information (snail-mail) should be addressed to:

Co-ordinator PAO
Center for Innovation and Cooperative Technology
Faculty for Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy
Valckenierstraat 65
1018 XE AMSTERDAM
The Netherlands

The PAO Co-ordinator may also be reached through:

PAO@phys.uva.nl (e-mail)
+31 20 525 5778 (fax).
In cases of urgency you may phone:
+31 20 693 3613
+31 20 627 8072
+44 1522 576609.

Conference Committee

Dr. Marjolijn Witte (PAO Co-ordinator)
Mrs. Joop Muller (University of Amsterdam)
Dr. Jan Kooistra (University of Utrecht)
Prof. Robbin Hough (Oakland University)
Dr. Ranulph Glanville (University of Portsmouth)
Prof. Gerard de Zeeuw (University of Amsterdam)


Contributors:


Ranulph Glanville , First sight
James R. Ozinga , Egalitarianism which inhibits economic progress
Gary M. Boyd , The identification of levels of action through the use of stratified computer-communication media
Bob Barbour , A post modern critique of Pask's conversation theory
Robbin R. Hough , Actions, observations and gamesmanship
Richard Hule and Alexander Kaske , Changing and connecting perspectives - action and observation
Linda Hitchin and Lorraine Warren , Dilemmas: micro-level analysis in technological systems research
Giridhari Lal Pandit , Environmental actions: can a part manage the whole?
Karin Blair , Acting and observing: cycles in a self-regulatory system based on the chinese five elements
John Wood and Olu Taiwo , Some proprioceptive observations of 'being-with'
Jacques Meijer, Reducing complexity
Hector Ponce, Managing the introduction of technologies within organisations
Mathias Rauterberg, Activity and perception: an action theoretical approach
Loet Leydesdorff, "Post-Institutionalism": A regime of fragmentation and translation
John Frazer, Action and observation. The Groningen experiment
Elohim J.L., Action for education and education for action
John W. Henke, Management tools and techniques, disappointment and disillusionment: a study of tbe notion of action
Matjaz Mulej, Vojko Potocan, Miroslav Rebernik, Janko Tintor, Karin Jurse, Nastja Mulej, Objectivity and subjectivity of action and observation
Martha Vahl, Observing observations and actions through 'stories'......?
Duzan Klinar, Matjaz Mulej, Peter Senèar, DST can reconceptualise research management in chemical engineering
Otto van Nieuwenhuizen, "Acts of Consciousness" (Reflection on Reflexes)
Otto C.J. Lappöhn, Activities that bring down uncertainty about observations of activities
Gerrit Broekstra, The tacit organization: hidden barriers to change
D.C. Freeman and M. Hobig, Problems with only knowing the right answer
Helena Knyazeva, The synergetic principles of nonlinear management: some methodological considerations
Dimitris Tsagdis, Models of praxis optimisation inside and outside science: Exploring the 'internalisation' of reference systems in business process re-engineering
Makiko Okuyama, Observation versus regard and move versus action
Jan Kooistra, The organization of morality
Piero Migliarese and Claudio Ferioli, Describing actions in organizations through the analysis of organizational relations
Richard Jung, Observer or creator, actor or clown
Jozica Knez-Riedl, Matjaz Mulej, Vojko Potocan, Karin Jurse, Early warning signs and actions in an innovative society
Lucio Biggiero, Complexity and predictability in managerial science
Mark P. Mobach, Jaco J.H. Rogier, Ton C.J. de Leeuw, Fit and effectiveness
Pablo Navarro, The dissipative structures of action
Chris Creed, Dr. Paul Newland, Ron Geesin, Problems of action and observation in an autistic universe
Michael Schreiber, Fractal Maps of Action and Observation
Henk J.L. Voets, Problems of action research in management studies
JanGerrit Schuurman, The use of science in Education
Michael Byron, Systemic learning in the context of observation
James Bradburne, Supporting actions
Jacqueline de Jong, Control relations in interactive systems
Gerard de Zeeuw, Second sight
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1995 Problems of Excavating Cybernetics and Systems

General

Biannually and sandwiched with the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research, conferences are organised in which participants consider freely and generously questions that recently emerged as being both fundamental and difficult to answer. The meetings are entitled: "Problems of ...". The organisers dedicate the 1995 meeting to a review of some problems that appear to have re-emerged to vex the fields of Cybernetics and Systems.
Both fields traditionally aim to combine two interests: detaching observable variation from the observer, researcher and intervener, and attaching users, interveners and researchers to observable variation.
Present developments in relation to both interests are quite exciting. They support divergence rather than interaction, however. This poses a challenge to Cybernetics and Systems, having been among the first to emphasis the fruitfulness of concentrating on the relation between these interests.

Earlier Meetings

The proposed review takes a natural place in the series: Problems of Context (1979), Problems of Levels and Boundaries (1981), Problems of Actors and Actions (1983), Problems of Disappearing Knowledge (1985), Problems of (Im)possible Worlds (1987), Problems of Support, Survival and Culture (1991), Problems of Values and (In)variants (1993). The theme in 1989 was a little bit different: Mutual Uses of Cybernetics and Science.
Copies of the proceedings of earlier conferences may be obtained from the conference co-ordinator.

Topic/Theme

In 1995, there will be, close to each other in both time and place, a considerable number of meetings on Systems and Cybernetics in Europe. This presents an unusual opportunity, as well as the material, to extend our strategic insights as to what both fields contribute.
Such an endeavour would be justified, rather mundanely, by presuming that such a density of meetings can not but imply major concepts to have become misunderstood, or too crudely re-invented, both in the fields of application of Cybernetics and Systems and within themselves. Clarification will be needed.
A more exciting, additional justification is that participants may not be challenged enough. Being fortified by their number, participants may forget the battle that is being waged in the wider world over two basic interests, both of which do belong to the fundamentals of Cybernetics and Systems. It seems highly relevant, therefore, to invest time and effort to excavate and fortify those fundamentals.
The first interest is in the explanation of ordered observational variation, that is complexity. Here the focus is on how frames and constraints are or become locked in into the world: emerging order is related to situated combinations of what emerged earlier. One may call this type of interest internal: it is assumed that results can be stable and independent of the activities of researchers, observers or interveners.
The other interest is in the control of variation. The aim is to explore how frames and constraints get transferred: how researchers, observers and interveners impose temporal order, either to kill variety or to make it support increases in the quality of activities. One may call this type of interest external: it assumes researchers, observers and interveners to be major sources of transferable frames and constraints.
The two interests do not seem to be in conflict by necessity. In practice they usually are, however: in Europe the external, of revelational origin, was fiercely battled over, ever since about the fourteenth century, by the internal - both in the context of inquiry and of societal development. Eventually the battle resulted in extensive secularisation. It also led to surprising successes in technology.
Systems and Cybernetics, from their inception, both have treated the external and internal as invaluable parts of their own 'game of life'. The one without the other just leaves us with an inability to support growth, change and collective activity. The concept of system itself was developed to combine both interests.
Elsewhere the battle has been less tender. Theories concerning complexity, chaos, catastrophes, distribution continue to try and absorb the external. The latter now even seems forced to hide and take refuge in, for example general consulta