Subject: re[2]: Open Source Developer Exchange (thinking)
From: Rich Persaud <>
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2003 18:39:10 -0800

 Sat, 1 Mar 2003 18:39:10 -0800
|  Any suggestions on how to reduce the thinking the consumer has to do?

If you've got the budget: takes all.html

If not, that leaves employees and affiliated free agents to do the thinking.  

This presents the cultural question: what is the distinction between 
talent who self-identify as "employee" and talent who self-identify 
as "free agent" (or O'Reilly author)?  What happens when one 
group decides to avail themselves of the "thought reduction" 
program that works so well for consumers?

Somebody gets to do the hard work.  Those people get paid in
exchange for temporary relinquishment of their freedom to say 
no to unpleasant but necessary thinking.

They also get paid to put their future earning potential at risk 
by evolving a brand identity, as members of a production team 
that is at best out of their control, and at worst out of anyone's

An excerpt from Andrew Pickering's (sociology of science)
2000 paper on cybernetic history:

"From the 1950s onwards (eg Beer 1959), Beer was consistently 
a critic of the usual uses of electronic computers and information 
technology in management, arguing that computers were being 
used simply to replace paper —in the construction of large 
databases and so on—in an unimaginative way that left the 
traditional social structure of organisations intact. Beer felt that 
this was to ignore the real problem of managing organisations ...

The success or failure of organisations, Beer felt, was a 
function of their adequacy in coping with their environment, 
the outside world of suppliers and consumers. And, still 
according to Beer, the outside world was what he classified as 
an ‘exceedingly complex system’—meaning that it was not 
exhaustively knowable; however much one mapped it and 
theorised it one would always be surprised by it. 

... The fundamental problem of management, then, lay not 
in constructing and manipulating bigger databases, but, first, 
in the artful design of information flows—so that the firm could 
be quickly and adequately informed of what the outside world 
was actually doing. 

... The second true problem of management was to act on 
those flows, and this is where the homeostat loomed large in 
Beer’s thinking ... Beer’s idea was that organisations, too, 
needed homeostatic controllers, capable of open-ended responses 
to unpredictable inputs, to keep them steady in an unknowable world. 
Whether these controllers should be electronic computers, ponds 
full of daphnia, or, in the end, just good, old-fashioned humans, 
connected up to an appropriately designed information system, 
Beer was prepared to find out ...

Beer and his followers have attempted to put this Viable System 
Model, as it is known, into operation in many organisations over 
the years (Espejo and Harnden 1989), but the showpiece was 
Beer’s attempt to cybernetise Chile in the period 1971-73, under 
the socialist regime of Salvador Allende (Beer 1972, 2nd ed. 1981). 

This project sought to convert the entire Chilean economy into the 
kind of cyborg assemblage I just described, with real-time 
information flows running from individual factories and so on to a 
central control-room—the brain—and back again. The project went 
a long way in a short time, before it was cut off by the Pinochet 
coup. Many of the principals (though not Beer) found themselves 
in jail; others fled to the US. Nobody, alas, has offered Beer an 
entire nation-state to work on since.

... cybernetics grabs onto the world differently from the classical 
sciences. While the latter seek to pin the world down in timeless 
representations, cybernetics directly thematises the unpredictable 
liveliness of the world and processes of open-ended becoming. 
While classical science has thus been an epistemological project 
aimed explicitly at knowledge production, cybernetics is an 
ontological project, aimed variously at displaying, grasping, 
controlling, exploiting and exploring the liveliness of the world."

The full paper (2000) is titled, "Cybernetics and the Mangle: 
Ashby, Beer and Pask":