Welcome to Cybernetics and Society

Walker, your footprints
are the path and nothing else;
walker, there is no path,
the path is made as you walk.
Antonio Machado

"In a very real sense we are shipwrecked passengers on a doomed planet. Yet even in a shipwreck, human decencies and human values do not necessarily vanish, and we must make the most of them. We shall go down, but let it be in a manner to which we may look forward as worthy of our dignity". (Norbert Wiener) (The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society)

Margaret Mead, cited in von Foerster, provides a classic cybernetic perspective: “I specifically want to consider the significance of the set of cross-disciplinary ideas which we first called 'feed-back' and then called 'teleological mechanisms' and then called 'cybernetics' -- a form of cross-disciplinary thought which made it possible for members of many disciplines to communicate with each other easily in a language which all could understand.


08-02-16: Ending of this Wikispaces : In March I plan to stop to contribute to this Wikispaces. It has started as an experiment and now it has outdated it. If anyone is interested to take this Wikispaces over, he/she is welcome. The initiator of the space: Luc Hoebeke.

31-05-14: Prof. Richard Wolff: State of Democracy at Maxwell School – October 3, 2013
27-05-14: After the European elections a cybernetic view on democracy without cybernetic jargon :

30-03-14: An interesting development of systems thinking and modelling within the field of economics. Steve Keen is heading up, as chief economist, a not-for-profit institute set up in Washington State called the Institute for Dynamic Economic Analysis (IDEA) and dedicated to the reform of economics. They are applying Minsky and systems dynamics based software modelling. The site is in 'pre-launch' status and contains the following footer: "The Institute for Dynamic Economic Analysis is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the reformation of economics for the benefit of people and society. We need your help." (see http://www.ideaeconomics.org/ ). Steve Keen has recently been appointed to head the department of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London "... to form the first truly heterodox economics department in the world". Also an interesting podcast involving Keen (an inherent systemic instability hypothesis -- sounds very cybernetic!): "Why Minsky Matters 24 Mar 2014: TUC economist Duncan Weldon asks if the theories of the late Hyman Minsky provide an explanation for the financial crisis and a radical challenge to mainstream economics?" -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/analysis .

01-09-13: Back from South-Africa and its Wild Coast, I only can recommend the book of John Clarke, social worker and writer, who lives cybernetics. The first part of it can be purchased at : The promise of Justice
Many examples of the advantages of "the system in one room" and disadvantages of refusing it can be found in "the story".

12-05-13: Making Work systems better, a practitioner's reflection has been translated in Spanish: Mejorando los sistemas de trabajo, reflexiones de un profesional, Luc Hoebeke. Traducción Antoni Corbella y Jaume Benavent, Editoroal: INNOVA, ISBN 978-84-941058-8-3

20-11-12: A draft discussion paper and PowerPoint presentation has been added to System 4 on the 'Black Swan' theme and the cybernetics of foresight -- presented at the Asia Pacific Foresight Conference in November 2012.

29-11-11: The new Metaphorum Website is in the air: metaphorum website

07-02-11: And here Javier Livas' "Universal Manager" illustrating the VSM: Universal Manager

08-01-11: Javier Livas has put the complete Monterrey conference of Stafford Beer on you tube: Monterrey conference

13-06-10: A new experimental discussion blog has been established to examine various themes and topics of discussion in the Listerv within a semi-public context. See System 5. (Test abandoned 26th July, 2010: Results archived to this site.)

17-05-10: If anyone is interested in compiling a "World VSM Menu" as a list of typical examples to complement the VSM theory then see the navigation menu. It has been kicked off with an entry for Wikileaks as a system 3* role.

16-05-10: Nils Gilman's Deviant Globalization (The Long Now Foundation) provides an interesting overview of the shadow side of the movement towards globalization. As Gilman says: "deviant globalization" is development ... is the system ... not a marginal feature of it.

14-05-10: The Global Sky Trust project is a citizen's initiative, to be launched at the State of the World Forum at Salvador, to establish a new global institution - the Global Sky Trust.

12-05-10: publication of 'The Cybernetic Brain' by Andrew Pickering. A briliiant historical record of the emergence of cybernetics, what makes it distinction, and the way in which it has impacted on a variety of contemporary disciplines. See reviews on Amazon.co.uk.

29-04-10: For those interested in sustainable development, action can be taken against a "dumb way" to develop an area by building a toll road through it, toll which the local people cannot afford. Please look up the petition and the comments on N2 toll petition This is a result of the link between South Africa, West Australia and Europe. We won the battle against the dune mining, here comes the next one against a stupid toll road. Luc

31-03-10: Javier made a Youtube series for kids explaining cybernetic and VSM principles see Site References
08-12-09: Javier Livas made his Universo Kybernetes available in 22 chapters in You Tube, see

01-11-09: 'Second Order Cybernetics' by Ranulph Glanville - "Brilliant overview of all the major figures in both cybernetics and second order cybernetics, and the most positive comments by an authorative figure about Stafford I can recall" (Roger H.). Link to PDF.

17-10-09: There appears to be a growing appreciation of need for, and role of, systems thinking in the future of global finance by some of its key (US) architects -- see GeorgeTown University lecture: Larry Summers: The Future of Global Finance (see FORA.tv for other content of interest)

16-10-09: The parable of economic and political leadership by an old compatriot: Breughel in honor of the Nobel Prize economics.

13-10-09: Addition of some really useful LINKS on 'links page'. A new page has also been added (with an entry on the Links page) to provide easy access to a number of recent interviews with Dr Michael Hudson, a renegade economist, who provides provoking systemic insight into the world's (and especially the US) financial systems. The Guns&Butter interview is highly recommended.

20-07-09: Thanks to Javier Livas we can add Stafford's Beer conference in Monterrey during the 90's to our Reference list. Today we add the first 3 parts.
Also really good overview on Brain and Consciousness by Javier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eZ_f8G21Pk

07-07-09: Searching for a European Identity (Vitali Vitaliev) can provide a riveting journey into the bizarre real non-virtual world of European Enclavia. LNL podcast interview. Highly recommended for those interested in Belgian complexity and the stranger than fiction cybernetics of fractal societies.

30-06-09: In Useful Links.menu you will find all the YouTube videos of Javier Livas in his preferred sequence. They form a visual very attractive introduction to the ideas which are at the base of this wikispace.

29-06-09: A new video of Javier: the Cybernetic State with an interesting comment about the link between the United States of the founding fathers and the Iroquois governance system.

16-06-09: Two more videos of Javier Livas are added in Support& references

11-06-09: In references you will find the videos that Javier Livas has stored on you tube about cybernetics, the VSM and related topics.
Javier Livas

23-02-09: There is some work beginning on Cybernetics, Society and Sustainability. rc.

11-02-09:one "secret" pages have been added, secret meaning that they don't appear on the space menu. By coincidence the secret is about Modern Spirituality. No mystery.

26-01-09: Paul Stokes' book has been announced through Amazon: viability of societies A fascinating trial to link sociology with cybernetics and the VSM. I had the privilege to read and comment on one of the earliest drafts of the book. Eg: the link between culture and system 2, the regulatory system is quite relevant to understand how to deal with the centrifugal forces of multiculturality in western societies. I hope I wet your appetite. You find the bibliographic reference in Support .Luc.

30-12-08: “THE CYBERNETICS OF SOCIETY: The Governance of Self and Civilization” (Johnson, B. n.d., http://www.jurlandia.org/cybsoc.htm) – and the difference between the ‘and’ and the ‘of’ is? Looks like one for the legal mindset.

25-12-08: Google search engine picks up and displays the first 25 or so words on this page. There is now a 'job' for the experts in communication to find the right introduction. I've just placed Machado for the time being. rc.

21-12-08: A new image for 2009 for this page thanks to Joe Truss. rc.

19-12-08: I have added a new page: LANGUAGE... my plea for clarity and effectiveness in communicating Stafford's ideas. BF

14-12-08: in Cyberlearning a somewhat simple view on "global" governance, related to Obama's success in the elections and the cry for leadership and regulation in the financial and economic domains.

14-12-08: re-reading Warren McCulloch to remind myself of the roots and foundations of cybernetics and Stafford's thinking. Reminds me what amazing figures were M,cCulloch, Wiener, von Neuman etc. Also that cybenretics for them was about understanding how everything that we consider to be human emerges from biological and physiological fundaments. Will feed back, when it's all gone in.

13-12-08: Quite interesting how the overhaul of this page announced one year ago, starts to become reality now. Nthing works better than self-regulation. LH.

12-12-08: Time's up! Votes are in (n=1). The LHS navigation menu has been 'tweaked' to reduce system noise. Can easily be reversed if needed. rc.

08-12-08: All - we need some sort of decision about how this fits on the one hand cybernetics, on the other hand, organisational cybernetics. I woke up dreaming about it in the small hours! The FACT is that no one in the org-cyb community has bothered with this. (mind I suppose, nor have many others!) On one level I don't mind just putting down the occasional ideas/content and using it as a personal 'sandpit' with one or two of you others. But - given my identity as metaphorum advocate, doesn't it appear that a bit of wastage is going on?? - roger

08-12-08: The weekly cyberlearning column is about Descartes and scarcity.

07-12-08: Rogers hints for new users is now on the First Time Users page. Click on it.

04-12-08: thanks to Clive Holtham a video Wikispaces introduction available in First Time Users

03-12-08: in Cyberlearning I give my hypothesis why the VSM is not so popular in academic institutions. This refers to an ongoing LISTSERVE conversation.

03-12-08: HMS-VSM (Ship's Blog) see WikiBar

28-11-08: Interesting stuff on eudemony and environment in Discussion on Site Development page (perhaps in Feedback?)

27-11-08: Introducing regulators and regulators in Cyberlearning. LH.

27-11-08: I have started a page as a sand-pit of sorts, where those who are interested might knock around, mix and match, images, words, phrase that help us and others understand what cybernetics is about. At present it's called Understanding cybernetics. So rather than a monologue, which I started before and will probably continue, this is a universe for the emergence of a shared discourse (RH)

25-11-08: RH took 'About Cybernetics' from the 'roots of viability' page to its own page, as it is of greater breadth than is relevant for 'roots' which, as the name implies, should focus on Stafford. So About cybnerteics and essence of cybernetics is being continued on its own page. Russell, would you please signal that on the home page.

15-11-08: Russell has renamed the domain to its more correct title "Cybernetics and Society" (by accident actually but things should still work for a time as old domain name will redirect). It also may well be a new cycle that justifies the naming of V.3.0 Nov 08

12-11-08: Quite interesting to see how this wikispaces gets viewed all over the world. I am at a guess why it is atracting viewers. Virtual worlds are lacking basic feedback. I keep the wikispaces out of curiosity.

14-09-07. My column in Cyberlearning on this date proposes a way to make use of the synergy between SSM and VSM.

12-07-07: Today a fruitful meeting was held at Cass University in London. The reporting of the results is in process and will be made available to the 4 media discussed: the Listserv, the Metaphorum website, the Redes de Coilaboracion and this Wikispace. Thanks to Clive Holtham for having provided the (tele-)conference facilities and thanks to those having contributed: Alfredo Moscardini, Nick Green, Angela Espinosa, Paul Stokes, Roger Harnden, Clive Holtham and at a distance José Rios and Russell Clemens. More to come.

14-06-07 On the Metaphorum website some papers presented at the Sankt Gallen conference in March 2007 have been made available.


The pages are generally self-explanatory and the associated discussions relate to page topics, issues and questions..

Walker, your footprints
are the path and nothing more
walker, there is no path
the path is made as you walk.

Page moderated by Luc Hoebeke (V.3.0 Nov 08)

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