Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Living Metaphor of Organizations (was RE: Grand challenge: Language evolution (Re: Autonomic email client?)

Expand Messages
  • Mike Beedle
    ... Bob: Good points. I agree, software intelligence should depend on context. That is, in some cases we do want intelligent software in some cases we want to
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 1, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Bob Haugen writes:
      > May I suggest that the paradigm (forgive the word) is wrong.
      >
      > Don't think about software as autonomous agents
      > (an artificial intelligence concept) think of software
      > as intelligence amplification - extension of
      > human intelligence - or intelligent assistants.
      >
      > Keep the humans in the loop.
      > Make everything work better for humans.
      > What would make our lives better?
      > More humane? More beautiful?
      > More lovely? More harmonious?
      > How do we want to live?
      > Like this?

      Bob:

      Good points.

      I agree, software intelligence should depend on context.
      That is, in some cases we do want intelligent software in
      some cases we want to be completely prescriptive, and
      most of the time we'd like to be somewhere in the
      middle that allows humans to have a symbiotic and
      coevolving relationship with the software.

      Since we are talking about a general biological framing
      of computing and software development, maybe it is a
      good idea to see "the big picture" and include human
      organization in a larger context.

      In this context we can talk about a biological frame for
      the teams and organizations that develop the software in
      their own right, and even a whole business. Some work
      has already been done in this area in the explicit and
      premeditated application of CAS (Complex Adaptable Systems)
      principles to software development, for example see:
      http://www.controlchaos.com
      http://www.e-architects.com/scrum
      http://jeffsutherland.com/scrum/

      In the realm of human organizations, we can propose some
      blunt hypothesis for a living metaphor of organizations,
      including the software development activities.

      (I am going to use my previous template and try to avoid
      repeating previous stuff.)

      1. Living Metaphor of Organizations

      We can use the same analogies for tissues, organs,
      organ systems and living organisms to map directly
      into teams mapping to tissues (case, process, etc.),
      collections of teams in the within the same business process
      (mapping to organs), and larger aggregations that
      correspond to organ systems i.e. like a larger
      business process such as order fulfillment that may
      depend on lower level functions like shipping.


      2. Agents

      We can propose that the unit of human organization
      is an individual:

      agent == individual

      and that these agents also satisfy all the previous internal
      constraints:

      sensing messages from other agents or the environment,
      translating these messages or measurements,
      filtering the messages or measurements,
      interpreting messages and determining actions,
      queuing actions by prioritizing actions according to plans,
      generating beliefs,
      storing beliefs,

      and external inter-agent constraints:

      - individuals in the organization _must_ also play balanced
      cooperative games, that would allow them to seek their
      well-being as well as the well-being of the organizations.
      And again, through this cooperation, individuals may form
      symbiotic communities that coevolve with each other

      - the individuals interact with each other through spoken
      and written languages in the hope to share knowledge and
      information. These are the "agent communication languages"
      at the organizational level.

      - individuals also have the ability to sense and share
      knowledge about the overall well being of each community,
      other communities, and even the whole, and they must have
      means of communicating this information.

      - individual also have shared and non-shared
      ontologies i.e. individual knowledge, team knowledge,
      organizational knowledge. This really boils down to
      cultural stuff.

      - individuals and organizations at any level may have a basic
      set of given contingent plans in case of "system faults"
      and also be provided with the ability to learn from errors.
      At the people level, these are emergency procedures and
      "lessons learned", things that come from reflection,
      introspection and feedback.

      - each team or organization would be semi-independent and
      would self-organize according its internal control systems,
      but also affect the whole. In Scrum we certainly do that.


      3. Homeostasis

      We can seek to maintain homeostasis in the organization
      by using both internal and external controls. Internal controls
      are controls used within a single team or organization.
      External controls are checks and balances among different
      teams and across the organization.

      As before, most of the control systems depend mostly
      on negative feedback i.e. they measure states and
      react inversely to the rate of change to compensate.


      4. What are systems?

      THE INTEGUMENTARY SYSTEM - what is the "skin" of an organization?
      Its interfaces with the external world?

      THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM - what is the "circulatory" equivalent? Do
      we need this metaphor for an organization?

      LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND IMMUNITY - Firing, Corporate moles,
      security checks, clearances, cameras, tracking systems, audits, etc.

      THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM - Probably not an applicable metaphor.
      Though some companies do treat their employees like
      defecation ;-)

      THE NERVOUS SYSTEM - definitely the main extrinsic and
      homeostatic system for an organization: spoken language, emails,
      phones, meetings, the collective consciousness, status meetings,
      status reports, assignments, agreements, signing up for work,
      documented plans, executives, the board, etc.

      THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM - Don't know how this would apply to
      organizations.

      THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM - asexual reproduction makes sense for
      organizations i.e. fission, budding, fragmentation, cloning,
      slicing, etc.

      THE MUSCULAR - don't think we need this metaphor for organizations.

      SKELETAL SYSTEMS - buildings, hallways, etc.

      THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM - Don't think we need that metaphor
      for organizations.

      THE EXCRETORY SYSTEM - Disposing of unusable information
      of materials?


      5. Organic Growth and Morphogenesis

      In an identical fashion, we can propose that organizations
      evolve from small embryo teams to full-fledged organisms
      through morphogenesis. And again, this morphogenesis is
      a directed differentiation process dictated by a pattern
      language kept in every agent i.e. the individual.

      As the organization grows there would be sensors and
      rules in place that would determine the existence
      of a context and trigger the rule - a pattern, to
      execute and transforms individuals, and teams, into
      new forms. The resulting context would then set
      a new context from where other patterns can be
      applied.

      I am starting to build a web site on all of this:
      http://www.livingmetaphor.org

      - Mike
    • Erann Gat
      ... I m with Bob Haugen on this one. I think that autonomous software agents interacting with each other is not what we should be striving for, but rather
      Message 2 of 8 , Dec 1, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        On Sat, 1 Dec 2001, Mike Beedle wrote:

        >
        > Bob Haugen writes:
        > > May I suggest that the paradigm (forgive the word) is wrong.
        > >
        > > Don't think about software as autonomous agents
        > > (an artificial intelligence concept) think of software
        > > as intelligence amplification - extension of
        > > human intelligence - or intelligent assistants.
        > >
        > > Keep the humans in the loop.
        > > Make everything work better for humans.
        > > What would make our lives better?
        > > More humane? More beautiful?
        > > More lovely? More harmonious?
        > > How do we want to live?
        > > Like this?

        I'm with Bob Haugen on this one. I think that autonomous software agents
        interacting with each other is not what we should be striving for, but
        rather software that is smarter about how it interacts with humans.
        Autonomous software agents interacting in biologically inspired ways may
        be a means to this end, but I think this is neither necessary nor
        sufficient.

        Erann
      • Dirk Riehle
        Also take a look at Jim Highsmith s book Adaptive Software Development. It has helped me understand much better how the startup I work for functions, is
        Message 3 of 8 , Dec 1, 2001
        • 0 Attachment
          Also take a look at Jim Highsmith's book Adaptive Software Development.

          It has helped me understand much better how the startup I work for
          functions, is innovative and finds direction, appears at times chaotic and
          unorganized, yet delivers.

          Dirk


          >In this context we can talk about a biological frame for
          >the teams and organizations that develop the software in
          >their own right, and even a whole business. Some work
          >has already been done in this area in the explicit and
          >premeditated application of CAS (Complex Adaptable Systems)
          >principles to software development, for example see:
          >http://www.controlchaos.com
          >http://www.e-architects.com/scrum
          >http://jeffsutherland.com/scrum/
          >
          >In the realm of human organizations, we can propose some
          >blunt hypothesis for a living metaphor of organizations,
          >including the software development activities.
          >
          >(I am going to use my previous template and try to avoid
          >repeating previous stuff.)
          >
          >1. Living Metaphor of Organizations
          >
          >We can use the same analogies for tissues, organs,
          >organ systems and living organisms to map directly
          >into teams mapping to tissues (case, process, etc.),
          >collections of teams in the within the same business process
          >(mapping to organs), and larger aggregations that
          >correspond to organ systems i.e. like a larger
          >business process such as order fulfillment that may
          >depend on lower level functions like shipping.
          >
          >
          >2. Agents
          >
          >We can propose that the unit of human organization
          >is an individual:
          >
          > agent == individual
          >
          >and that these agents also satisfy all the previous internal
          >constraints:
          >
          > sensing messages from other agents or the environment,
          > translating these messages or measurements,
          > filtering the messages or measurements,
          > interpreting messages and determining actions,
          > queuing actions by prioritizing actions according to plans,
          > generating beliefs,
          > storing beliefs,
          >
          >and external inter-agent constraints:
          >
          >- individuals in the organization _must_ also play balanced
          >cooperative games, that would allow them to seek their
          >well-being as well as the well-being of the organizations.
          >And again, through this cooperation, individuals may form
          >symbiotic communities that coevolve with each other
          >
          >- the individuals interact with each other through spoken
          >and written languages in the hope to share knowledge and
          >information. These are the "agent communication languages"
          >at the organizational level.
          >
          >- individuals also have the ability to sense and share
          >knowledge about the overall well being of each community,
          >other communities, and even the whole, and they must have
          >means of communicating this information.
          >
          >- individual also have shared and non-shared
          >ontologies i.e. individual knowledge, team knowledge,
          >organizational knowledge. This really boils down to
          >cultural stuff.
          >
          >- individuals and organizations at any level may have a basic
          >set of given contingent plans in case of "system faults"
          >and also be provided with the ability to learn from errors.
          >At the people level, these are emergency procedures and
          >"lessons learned", things that come from reflection,
          >introspection and feedback.
          >
          >- each team or organization would be semi-independent and
          >would self-organize according its internal control systems,
          >but also affect the whole. In Scrum we certainly do that.
          >
          >
          >3. Homeostasis
          >
          >We can seek to maintain homeostasis in the organization
          >by using both internal and external controls. Internal controls
          >are controls used within a single team or organization.
          >External controls are checks and balances among different
          >teams and across the organization.
          >
          >As before, most of the control systems depend mostly
          >on negative feedback i.e. they measure states and
          >react inversely to the rate of change to compensate.
          >
          >
          >4. What are systems?
          >
          >THE INTEGUMENTARY SYSTEM - what is the "skin" of an organization?
          >Its interfaces with the external world?
          >
          >THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM - what is the "circulatory" equivalent? Do
          >we need this metaphor for an organization?
          >
          >LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND IMMUNITY - Firing, Corporate moles,
          >security checks, clearances, cameras, tracking systems, audits, etc.
          >
          >THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM - Probably not an applicable metaphor.
          >Though some companies do treat their employees like
          >defecation ;-)
          >
          >THE NERVOUS SYSTEM - definitely the main extrinsic and
          >homeostatic system for an organization: spoken language, emails,
          >phones, meetings, the collective consciousness, status meetings,
          >status reports, assignments, agreements, signing up for work,
          >documented plans, executives, the board, etc.
          >
          >THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM - Don't know how this would apply to
          >organizations.
          >
          >THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM - asexual reproduction makes sense for
          >organizations i.e. fission, budding, fragmentation, cloning,
          >slicing, etc.
          >
          >THE MUSCULAR - don't think we need this metaphor for organizations.
          >
          >SKELETAL SYSTEMS - buildings, hallways, etc.
          >
          >THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM - Don't think we need that metaphor
          >for organizations.
          >
          >THE EXCRETORY SYSTEM - Disposing of unusable information
          >of materials?
          >
          >
          >5. Organic Growth and Morphogenesis
          >
          >In an identical fashion, we can propose that organizations
          >evolve from small embryo teams to full-fledged organisms
          >through morphogenesis. And again, this morphogenesis is
          >a directed differentiation process dictated by a pattern
          >language kept in every agent i.e. the individual.
          >
          >As the organization grows there would be sensors and
          >rules in place that would determine the existence
          >of a context and trigger the rule - a pattern, to
          >execute and transforms individuals, and teams, into
          >new forms. The resulting context would then set
          >a new context from where other patterns can be
          >applied.
          >
          >I am starting to build a web site on all of this:
          >http://www.livingmetaphor.org
          >
          >- Mike
          >
          >To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          >feyerabend-project-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        • Joseph Bergin
          ... There are two things going on here and we often forget this. We too often focus on how to build something and not enough time on _what_ to build. In
          Message 4 of 8 , Dec 2, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            At 06:35 AM 12/2/01 -0600, bhaugen wrote:

            >So design of intelligent assistants (to be successful)
            >should consider them to be inhabitants and colleagues
            >in social/organizational environments.
            >
            >-Bob Haugen

            There are two things going on here and we often forget this. We too often
            focus on how to build something and not enough time on _what_ to build. In
            particular, what should be built and what should not be built. I'm happy
            that we seem to be focusing more on this here.

            We realize of course that not knowing how to do something constrains what
            we can build. But we should also take the attitude that what should be
            built (what is ethical, desirable, human potential enhancing...) should
            also constrain how we build it.

            Here I think we are fortunate that the social constraints also make it more
            rather than less buildable. We do know how to build systems that learn from
            human feedback much better than completely autonomous _intelligent_ agents.

            Joe
          • Brian Marick
            [Kind of behind on my email.] ... Let me go meta for this note. You ve been warned. Lakoff and Johnson [1] hold that all reasoning is metaphorical. I think
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 10, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              [Kind of behind on my email.]

              At 05:50 AM 12/1/01, Mike Beedle wrote:
              >1. Living Metaphor of Organizations
              >
              >We can use the same analogies for tissues, organs,
              >organ systems and living organisms to map directly
              >into teams mapping to tissues (case, process, etc.),
              >collections of teams in the within the same business process
              >(mapping to organs), and larger aggregations that
              >correspond to organ systems i.e. like a larger
              >business process such as order fulfillment that may
              >depend on lower level functions like shipping.

              Let me go meta for this note. You've been warned.

              Lakoff and Johnson [1] hold that all reasoning is metaphorical. I think
              their theory is broadly convincing. For example, I came away from their
              book and allied stuff believing that the metaphor "UNDERSTANDING is SEEING"
              really does structure our understanding of understanding [2].

              At the end of "Metaphor, Morality, and Politics" [3], Lakoff has a coda on
              deep and superficial metaphor. "WELFARE is a SAFETY NET" is a superficial
              metaphor. It works by activating deeper metaphors. For example, "safety
              net" suggests someone walking on a tightrope. That activates metaphors like
              "FAILING is FALLING" and "VALUE is DIFFICULTY" (walking a "straight and
              narrow" tightrope is inherently more praiseworthy than sauntering down a
              garden path). Superficial metaphors - ones we know are metaphors - are
              convincing to the extent they activate our deep metaphors.

              Lakoff's paper is subtitled "Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals in the
              Dust". He argues that conservatives and [American-style] liberals have
              different systems of deep metaphor. Moreover, conservatives have "a unified
              language and imagery [that conveys] their worldview", whereas liberals do
              not. As a result, liberals "are helpless to deal effectively with
              conservatism". He, as a liberal, thinks liberals need to understand their
              system and use it explicitly.

              Meanwhile, back to software... The biological metaphor for software is a
              superficial one. It resonates with a lot of people. Why? What deep
              metaphors does it activate? Would trying to tease out those metaphors
              advance the project, or would it be like what happened when the ant asked
              the millipede how he keeps from tripping over his own feet? (Once he
              started thinking about it, the millipede started tripping.)

              [1] Lakoff and Johnson, _Metaphors We Live By_
              [2] See <http://wiki.cs.uiuc.edu/Visualworkings/Understanding+Is+Seeing>
              for examples of the UNDERSTANDING is SEEING metaphor. Not entirely
              accidentally, the sentence pointing to here uses the "conduit metaphor",
              which holds that gaining understanding is a matter of transferring a
              quantity or object from one mind to another along a conduit: "he finally
              got his point across". See Reddy, "The Conduit Metaphor" in Andrew Ortony,
              ed, _Metaphor and Thought_, 2nd edition. It also uses UNDERSTANDING is a
              JOURNEY.
              [3] http://www.wwcd.org/issues/Lakoff.html


              --
              Brian Marick, marick@...
              www.testing.com - Software testing services and resources
              www.testingcraft.com - Where software testers exchange techniques
              www.visibleworkings.com - Adequate understanding of system internals
            • Mike Beedle
              ... . [snip] ... But what if life is defined with a broader definition like the one given by Kauffman s work? ... Brian: Lakaoff s ideas and writings: * Where
              Message 6 of 8 , Feb 11, 2002
              • 0 Attachment
                Brian Marick wrote:
                > At 05:50 AM 12/1/01, Mike Beedle wrote:
                > >1. Living Metaphor of Organizations
                > >
                > >We can use the same analogies for tissues, organs,
                > >organ systems and living organisms to map directly
                > >into teams mapping to tissues (case, process, etc.),
                > >collections of teams in the within the same business process
                > >(mapping to organs), and larger aggregations that
                > >correspond to organ systems i.e. like a larger
                > >business process such as order fulfillment that may
                > >depend on lower level functions like shipping.
                >
                > Let me go meta for this note. You've been warned.
                >
                > Lakoff and Johnson [1] hold that all reasoning is
                > metaphorical. I think their theory is broadly convincing.
                > For example, I came away from their book and allied stuff
                > believing that the metaphor "UNDERSTANDING is SEEING"
                > really does structure our understanding of understanding [2].
                .

                [snip]
                > Meanwhile, back to software... The biological metaphor for software
                > is a superficial one.

                But what if life is defined with a broader definition like
                the one given by Kauffman's work?

                > It resonates with a lot of people. Why? What deep
                > metaphors does it activate? Would trying to tease out
                > those metaphors advance the project, or would it be like
                > what happened when the ant asked the millipede how he
                > keeps from tripping over his own feet? (Once he
                > started thinking about it, the millipede started t

                Brian:

                Lakaoff's ideas and writings:

                * Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied
                Mind Brings Mathematics into Being
                * Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind
                and Its Challenge to Western Thought
                * Women, Fire and Dangerous Things
                * Metaphors we live by
                etc.

                are some of my favorites. All of his books, are imo,
                some of the most interesting and important books
                ever written. And I agree to some extent. I think that
                having organizations look like "tissues, organs and organs
                systems" is a weak metaphor. But that having "live organizations",
                otoh, is not -- it can be much more real than that.

                Depending on the activities of a community of agents, they
                may actually be "alive", regardless of their nature i.e.
                they can be cells, animals, particles, humans, etc.

                But what activities are those? Kauffman thinks it has to do
                with the creation of self-reproducing proto-metabolic
                autocatalytic chains that are capable of "creating work" i.e.
                generating Maxwell Demons that reduce entropy. With this
                broader definition, life need to be carbon-based, or
                cell-based for that matter.

                These ideas, and much more, are explained in:

                The Origins of Order
                http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195079515/qid=1013417642/sr=2-1/ref=
                sr_2_1/102-6706920-8652943
                At Home in the Universe
                http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195111303/qid=1013417445/sr=2-1/ref=
                sr_2_1/102-6706920-8652943
                Investigations
                http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/019512104X/qid=1013417445/sr=2-3/ref=
                sr_2_3/102-6706920-8652943
                http://www.santafe.edu/sfi/People/kauffman/Investigations.html

                In fact, creating "alife", has been one of the hottest
                research areas at SFI (Santa Fe Institute) and at a
                growing number of organizations for the last decade:

                -Adaptive Computation Group at the University of New Mexico
                -ALife group, Iowa State University
                -Cellular Programming: Evolution of Parallel Cellular Machines
                -Center for Complex Systems, Florida Atlantic University
                -Center for Complex Systems Research (CCSR), Beckman Institute,
                -University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
                Evolving Cellular Automata (EVCA), and other research
                -groups at the Santa Fe Institute
                -Laboratory for the Culture of the Artificial
                -Logic Systems Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
                -MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
                -MIT Media Lab
                -New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)
                -Program for Study of Complex Systems (PSCS), University of Michigan
                -Scientific and Parallel Computing group at the University of Geneva
                -School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (COGS), University
                of Sussex at Brighton (which offers an MSc in Evolutionary
                and Adaptive Systems)
                (etc., this list in non-inclusive)

                However, there is a growing number of researchers, including myself,
                that believe that these ideas also apply to organizations.
                See for example:
                http://www.ifi.unizh.ch/events/monteverita2002

                My own thoughts on these have evolved to in thinking that
                "alife" will grow out to be one of hottest technologies
                of the 21st century (this is my Feyerabend paper), and will
                invade all sectors of societies, from technologies to
                organizations at all levels:
                http://www.livingmetaphor.org

                - Mike


                Brian Marick wrote:
                > At the end of "Metaphor, Morality, and Politics" [3], Lakoff has
                > a coda on deep and superficial metaphor. "WELFARE is a SAFETY NET"
                > is a superficial metaphor. It works by activating deeper
                > metaphors. For example, "safety net" suggests someone walking
                > on a tightrope. That activates metaphors like
                > "FAILING is FALLING" and "VALUE is DIFFICULTY" (walking a "straight and
                > narrow" tightrope is inherently more praiseworthy than sauntering down a
                > garden path). Superficial metaphors - ones we know are metaphors - are
                > convincing to the extent they activate our deep metaphors.
                >
                > Lakoff's paper is subtitled "Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals in the
                > Dust". He argues that conservatives and [American-style] liberals have
                > different systems of deep metaphor. Moreover, conservatives have
                > "a unified language and imagery [that conveys] their worldview",
                > whereas liberals do not. As a result, liberals "are helpless
                > to deal effectively with conservatism". He, as a liberal,
                > thinks liberals need to understand their system and use it
                > explicitly.

                Fascinating. I would be interested to find out if there are any
                general conclusions that correlate organizational success with
                the completeness and density of metaphors in a group's language.

                Intuitively, one would expect a high correlation.
              • Mike Beedle
                ... [snip] ... Brian: But what if life is defined with a broader definition like the one given by Kauffman s work? ... Lakaoff s ideas and writings: * Where
                Message 7 of 8 , Feb 11, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  Brian Marick wrote:
                  > At 05:50 AM 12/1/01, Mike Beedle wrote:
                  > >1. Living Metaphor of Organizations
                  > >
                  > >We can use the same analogies for tissues, organs,
                  > >organ systems and living organisms to map directly
                  > >into teams mapping to tissues (case, process, etc.),
                  > >collections of teams in the within the same business process
                  > >(mapping to organs), and larger aggregations that
                  > >correspond to organ systems i.e. like a larger
                  > >business process such as order fulfillment that may
                  > >depend on lower level functions like shipping.
                  >
                  > Let me go meta for this note. You've been warned.
                  >
                  > Lakoff and Johnson [1] hold that all reasoning is
                  > metaphorical. I think their theory is broadly convincing.
                  > For example, I came away from their book and allied stuff
                  > believing that the metaphor "UNDERSTANDING is SEEING"
                  > really does structure our understanding of understanding [2].

                  [snip]
                  > Meanwhile, back to software... The biological metaphor for software
                  > is a superficial one.

                  Brian:

                  But what if life is defined with a broader definition like
                  the one given by Kauffman's work?

                  > It resonates with a lot of people. Why? What deep
                  > metaphors does it activate? Would trying to tease out
                  > those metaphors advance the project, or would it be like
                  > what happened when the ant asked the millipede how he
                  > keeps from tripping over his own feet? (Once he
                  > started thinking about it, the millipede started t

                  Lakaoff's ideas and writings:

                  * Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied
                  Mind Brings Mathematics into Being
                  * Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind
                  and Its Challenge to Western Thought
                  * Women, Fire and Dangerous Things
                  * Metaphors we live by
                  etc.

                  are some of my favorites. All of his books, are imo,
                  some of the most interesting and important books
                  ever written. And I agree to some extent. I think that
                  having organizations look like "tissues, organs and organs
                  systems" is a weak metaphor. But that having "live organizations",
                  otoh, is not -- it can be much more real than that.

                  Depending on the activities of a community of agents, they
                  may actually be "alive", regardless of their nature i.e.
                  they can be cells, animals, particles, humans, etc.

                  But what activities are those? Kauffman thinks it has to do
                  with the creation of self-reproducing proto-metabolic
                  autocatalytic chains that are capable of "creating work" i.e.
                  generating Maxwell Demons that reduce entropy. With this
                  broader definition, life need to be carbon-based, or
                  cell-based for that matter.

                  These ideas, and much more, are explained in:

                  The Origins of Order
                  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195079515/qid=1013417642/sr=2-1/ref=
                  sr_2_1/102-6706920-8652943
                  At Home in the Universe
                  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195111303/qid=1013417445/sr=2-1/ref=
                  sr_2_1/102-6706920-8652943
                  Investigations
                  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/019512104X/qid=1013417445/sr=2-3/ref=
                  sr_2_3/102-6706920-8652943
                  http://www.santafe.edu/sfi/People/kauffman/Investigations.html

                  In fact, creating "alife", has been one of the hottest
                  research areas at SFI (Santa Fe Institute) and at a
                  growing number of organizations for the last decade:

                  -Adaptive Computation Group at the University of New Mexico
                  -ALife group, Iowa State University
                  -Cellular Programming: Evolution of Parallel Cellular Machines
                  -Center for Complex Systems, Florida Atlantic University
                  -Center for Complex Systems Research (CCSR), Beckman Institute,
                  -University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
                  Evolving Cellular Automata (EVCA), and other research
                  -groups at the Santa Fe Institute
                  -Laboratory for the Culture of the Artificial
                  -Logic Systems Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
                  -MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
                  -MIT Media Lab
                  -New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)
                  -Program for Study of Complex Systems (PSCS), University of Michigan
                  -Scientific and Parallel Computing group at the University of Geneva
                  -School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (COGS), University
                  of Sussex at Brighton (which offers an MSc in Evolutionary
                  and Adaptive Systems)
                  (etc., this list in non-inclusive)

                  However, there is a growing number of researchers, including myself,
                  that believe that these ideas also apply to organizations.
                  See for example:
                  http://www.ifi.unizh.ch/events/monteverita2002

                  My own thoughts on these have evolved to in thinking that
                  "alife" will grow out to be one of hottest technologies
                  of the 21st century (this is my Feyerabend paper), and will
                  invade all sectors of societies, from technologies to
                  organizations at all levels:
                  http://www.livingmetaphor.org

                  - Mike


                  Brian Marick wrote:
                  > At the end of "Metaphor, Morality, and Politics" [3], Lakoff has
                  > a coda on deep and superficial metaphor. "WELFARE is a SAFETY NET"
                  > is a superficial metaphor. It works by activating deeper
                  > metaphors. For example, "safety net" suggests someone walking
                  > on a tightrope. That activates metaphors like
                  > "FAILING is FALLING" and "VALUE is DIFFICULTY" (walking a "straight and
                  > narrow" tightrope is inherently more praiseworthy than sauntering down a
                  > garden path). Superficial metaphors - ones we know are metaphors - are
                  > convincing to the extent they activate our deep metaphors.
                  >
                  > Lakoff's paper is subtitled "Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals in the
                  > Dust". He argues that conservatives and [American-style] liberals have
                  > different systems of deep metaphor. Moreover, conservatives have
                  > "a unified language and imagery [that conveys] their worldview",
                  > whereas liberals do not. As a result, liberals "are helpless
                  > to deal effectively with conservatism". He, as a liberal,
                  > thinks liberals need to understand their system and use it
                  > explicitly.

                  Fascinating. I would be interested to find out if there are any
                  general conclusions that correlate organizational success with
                  the completeness and density of metaphors in a group's language.

                  Intuitively, one would expect a high correlation.
                • Brian Marick
                  ... (I didn t mean superficial to mean weak , and I don t think Lakoff did either. The intent is that a superficial metaphor can be explained in terms of a
                  Message 8 of 8 , Feb 11, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    At 03:23 AM 2/11/02, Mike Beedle wrote:

                    >[...] I think that
                    >having organizations look like "tissues, organs and organs
                    >systems" is a weak metaphor. But that having "live organizations",
                    >otoh, is not -- it can be much more real than that.

                    (I didn't mean "superficial" to mean "weak", and I don't think Lakoff did
                    either. The intent is that a superficial metaphor can be explained in terms
                    of a deep one, but not vice versa.)

                    My note was not concerned with truth; rather with enthusiasm. Let me
                    explain. It's going to sound pompous and presumptuous. Sorry.

                    Suppose I were as self-skeptical as I'd like to be. I'd be as prone to
                    developing enthusiasms as I am now. But I would more often ask myself, "Why
                    do I so enthusiastically believe X, given that the evidence for neither X
                    nor not-X is convincing?" Maybe I'd realize quickly that the real reasons
                    for my enthusiasm weren't so good, so I'd shed it quickly. Or I might
                    realize that X is just a proxy for Y, and shift my enthusiasm. Or that X is
                    an assemblage of A, B, and C; and that B is what I *really* care about. Or
                    I might retain exactly the same enthusiasm.

                    Every once in a while I'm properly self-skeptical, with good results. I
                    think of myself as a (sadly lazy) student of ways of kicking myself out of
                    mental ruts, of tricking myself into no longer fooling myself.

                    I was suggesting one such trick to enthusiasts of the biological
                    metaphor(s). The trick could work whatever the status in reality of the
                    word "live" applied to organizations, programs, etc. I don't know enough to
                    have an opinion about that status.


                    P.S. I do know that unsound enthusiasms can lead to wonderful results.
                    Sometimes the unexamined life is just swell.


                    --
                    Brian Marick, marick@...
                    www.testing.com - Software testing services and resources
                    www.testingcraft.com - Where software testers exchange techniques
                    www.visibleworkings.com - Adequate understanding of system internals
                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.