Complex Systems Road Trip

It was years in the making, but I finally made it to the New England Complex Systems Institute last week for CX201 – Complex Physical, Biological and Social Systems. My interest in complex systems started in or around 2000 when I was living near Cambridge and stumbled upon NECSI. At that time there was an active discussion of Peirce’s firstness, secondness and thirdness on the NECI listserv and this became my introduction to Peirce’s philosophy.

The science of complex systems provides clarity regarding the meaning of terms now coming into use as memes in the social media and executive leadership communities. For example, complex systems grounds the term collective intelligence, a term currently used at the Aspen Institute to denote the “co-creation of value”, as the behavior of the whole that one cannot observe from the behavior of the parts. As social networks become a larger part of our worklife, it’s essential that the social media community ground its memes in the science of complex systems.

Last week’s lectures were based on Yaneer’s Dynamics of Complex Systems and Making Things Work. Yaneer made an excellent choice by insisting that laptops went down during the lectures, so we were all engaged in the experience rather than intermediated by technology. I enjoyed getting to know Yaneer over the course if the week. He’s a consumate scientist, teacher and leader. My experience there was of the highest quality and I plan to return next year for CX202 – Complex Systems Modeling and Networks by which time I hope to have some Haskell chops and be ready to execute on the modeling phase of the curriculum.