Shell and Brain

In October I read Ross Ashby’s “Introduction to Cybernetics” while on a trip to the States, finding myself with free time to read for the first time in months. It’s taken a while to get back around to writing up my analysis of the book, but that’s just what it is to be interested in this stuff in a capitalist economy. Let’s start with one of the more interesting chapters in the book, Chapter 10: Regulation in Biological Systems.

Self-Organisation: Six Questions of Governance

Imagine a group of people who have come together to work on some project. Maybe four of five people, with one fairly concrete objective. Perhaps they are trying to publish a magazine, journal, or newsletter of some kind. They know what they want to acomplish, and they have some vague idea of how to go about doing it. Let’s pretend that these people are called Alice, Bob, Claire, Derek, and Esther.

Swarms, Respectability Politics, and Variety Engineering

I’ve just started reading “The Uprising”, by Franco Berardi, and while I haven’t made it very far in the text, I’ve already encountered an idea that gave me pause. The author touches on Wiener’s Cybernetics quite early — which is in itself tantalizing — but follows quickly with an idea that resonates with what we’ve read in Beer’s “Designing Freedom”. Swarms and Networks In the early section titled “Swarm”, the author lays down a challenge: