Maximising components vs maximising systems

Some examples to illustrate what it means to maximise components rather than systems – and why it’s best avoided: Sports teams with star players that don’t gel as a team – maximising individual talent at the cost of collaboration, team…

More from Seth Godin on slack in systems and resilience

A friend was talking about building resilient systems today, something Seth covered at length in Akimbo (S4 Ep 20)… and also in this blog post: Systems with slack are more resilient. The few extra minutes of time aren’t wasted, the…

Old buildings

I love old buildings , and I usually feel a strange sort of curiosity mixed with nostalgia for the people and cultures that made them. Just in the UK I’d love to see the castle garrisoned by knights and squires,…

Podcast Recommendation: Econtalk with Alain Bertaud on Cities, Planning, and Order Without Design

This is a great episode of Econtalk. Bertaud uses labour markets as a lens for thinking about cities. Helpful examples of emergent order and the challenges (impossibility?) of planning in complex adaptive systems. Highlights (coming up) include: Discussion of the…

Resource: Tim Harford on 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy

If you haven’t thought much about economics, this series from the BBC is a first-rate introduction to a lot of key ideas about how markets work. Each episode is about ten minutes long and features at least one interesting, often…

Econtalk: Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative

This is a really interesting episode of Econtalk, and worth a listen. Highlight 1: Accurate description of poor communities A couple of things here really resonated with my experience of living and working in low-income communities in Jakarta: Miller’s descriptions…

Machine. Ecosystem. (7) – Style is content (text as system)

Style is content. Poet Marvin Bell reminds us that the content of a poem is not the same as a poem’s contents, reminding us that when we paraphrase what a poem is about (its contents) we are not talking about…

Kicking cans: job descriptions versus culture

A few days ago I watched a schoolboy kicking a can down the road. He kicked it a couple of times and then miskicked, sending the can flying into the road, where it landed at the feet of an off-duty…

Machine. Ecosystem. (6) – Kevin Kelly on the techium

Okay, so machines are simple, largely linear, and predictable, and systems are complex, adaptive and ‘dispositional’… but look a bit closer and the distinction gets blurry. Most systems (individual people, markets, forests to name three) are combinations of sub-systems that…