Saturday, December 30, 2006


we had an end to a conversation... a man was killed...hanged ...he is no longer able to say a word.... though in the past he was prone to stop others from conversing....

it makes no difference after all... someone else will say something....anything.... it could be that imbecil that as lead us into this mess...

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Fine Example

…most of us, will live a very happy life using scarcely more than a few words… the ability to articulate some phrases, a capacity to pronounce some sentences is quite enough… it is a sufficing world …. and we reamain content...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Sense of Control and the unbearable absence of "things"

Maybe it is only human to try to measure these "things". We seem to be more comfortable with the illusion of control. After all if we can not pick up knowledge, reshape it, transport it, store it, retrieve it, add it, this opens a door to uncertainty. Apparently, human beings do not feel good about an uncertain future. Some one must be in control. We can not possibly be playing a game that has its rules emerging as we are playing the game itself…

What if what we perceive as organisations are simply temporary stabilisation (the word might even be institutionalisation) of themes, that is, habits, organising (making sense) the experience of being together that emerge in the process of human interaction in local situations in some living present?

Organisations, then, are iterative processes of communicative interaction, that is, repetitive patterns of human experience of being together in the living present (even though always haunted by the past as well as always hoping for a shiny future) , in which themes are continually reproduced and at the same time slightly transformed.

Small differences, variations in the reproduction of habits, will be amplified into new action with new meaning (new knowledge). This continual interaction between humans who are all forming intentions, choosing and acting in relation to each other as they go about their daily work together, both stabilises around coherent, repetitive patterns of communicative interaction, and at the same time these patterns are potentially transformed by those same interactions.

the "manufacturing, storage, transportation, utilisation" of Knowledge

Management science, traditionally, treats routine and novelty as a logical continuum. Today’s business will be replaced by those activities that planning anticipates as necessary to attain a future fit. The drive for efficiency in current business and the need for effectiveness in future positioning are perceived as non-paradoxical goals and as solvable by resorting to the application of planning as the rational decision making process. ...the dellusion goes as far as:

Koontz et al. (1984) posit that creativity is the process that allows for a smooth transition between current and future fit. These authors assert that human creativity in management is the way this difficulty is overcome. The description of how this process allegedly works is truly bewildering (1984:471):

“ the creative process is seldom simple and linear. Instead, it can be thought of as overlapping and interacting phases consisting of (1) unconscious scanning, (2) intuition, (3) insight, and (4) logical formulation. The first phase (...) is difficult to explain as it is beyond consciousness. (...) the second phase connects unconscious with the conscious. (...) Insight (...) may be likened to the exclamation “Eureka!” (...) may last only for a few minutes and effective managers may benefit from having paper and pencil ready to make notes on their creative ideas.”

Instead of a paradoxical process of a communicational nature which is difficult (to say the least) to measure.... we rather talk about "things" even if our world becomes more anda more immaterial.... but for material "things" we have four centuries od science and scales and measurement devices ...

the never ending story the official patterns of talk protected by legitimate and formal streams of conversations seek to remove redundancy in action and in talk because it is inefficient in terms of day-to-day activities. At the same time, shadow streams of communication, both conscious and unconscious, enable the potential for engaging in redundant conversations with their possibility for generating misunderstanding, the pre-condition for the emergence of new patterns of meaning...and innovation arises.....

This process occurs among different people and in different locations. Since no purpose is detectable at the beginning of a particular conversational sequence from which an innovation emerges because such purpose itself emerges in conversation, anyone within an organisation might engage in this kind of talk. Speculation, imagination and fantasy might arise anywhere: from conferences people have attended, from magazines, from analogies drawn from other social settings, from social practices. As conversations progress some of the themes might recur. They become a pattern in such conversations. If this happens there then follows a period of intense negotiation of meaning. The outcome of these negotiations is that alternative explanations are increasingly ruled out. As new words become agreed upon, eventually some of the original contributors might withdraw as they disagree with what is stabilising.

The acceptance of the newly stabilised meaning might spread among groups or communities of practice. They acquire a new instrumental dimension. They are no longer just words, but instead they are part of a new pattern of conversation. They might be acted upon, in the sense that they might alter some material reality. If these new actions are supported by those who have the power to authorise the use of resources, openly or covertly, then experiments start. The results of these experiments will form the input to new redundant conversations. As new solutions emerge, there will be further questioning of novel experiments compared to the merits of old solutions that have become routine. If the outcome of experiments becomes a socially accepted "fact" then it will be incorporated in the legitimate pattern of talk in the current activities organisations engage in with the expectation of improving their viability. It is then that these activities become located in precise geographic settings, such as R&D. The process is, thus, self-organising since no one can control the course of conversations, no matter how powerful they are, although they might be able to terminate them. No one can control or shape the output since it is emergent. There is no individual hero at this stage.

However, this process, as it enters a more stable and ordered pattern of interaction tends to be reified and this "hides" the very nature of the process itself. Innovation, is in my view, the new meaning that is the emergent product of the dissipation occurring in conversations characterised by redundant diversity experienced as misunderstanding. The new meaning may be embodied in some new "thing" that is apparently detached from the messy process of its creation.

Furthermore, people tend to become detached from the emergent process of new meaning by their tendency to reconstruct past processes as coherent, logical and individually centred.

and so....

I am suggesting that when conversations are characterised by some critical state of redundant diversity in which there is a critical potential for misunderstanding, words in their speaking have the potential for transformation into new patterns of meaning, thus of acting. Since the kind of conversations I am talking about are characterised by uncertainty and misunderstanding they raise anxiety in those participating.

Thus, if the conversation is to continue, there must be something that allows people to overcome this anxiety and avoid the collapse of the creative potential of misunderstanding into the regular pattern of talk in words already spoken. This, I suggest is curiosity and, most important, trust. Trusting those that engage in conversations that might reach a critical level of redundant diversity and its associated potential for misunderstanding, enables people to live with the anxiety arising in the frustrated expectations of finding rapid solutions and immediate support.

As part of their current tasks in organisations people are expected to perform some clearly defined sequence of actions during which their behaviour is bound by rules, culture or shared expectations. This is necessary for the efficient performance of daily tasks. This is the behaviour that is validated by the legitimate pattern of interactions in companies. It is derived from the "economic purpose" of each "organisation". However, while people are performing these actions, they also engage in redundantly diverse behaviour. This might arise in attempts to accommodate ambiguity, uncertainty and ill-defined outcomes of economic actions or in some current or prospective events that relate directly to the job in hand. Furthermore, people also engage in talk with their colleagues, friends, customers and other persons, about issues that do not relate to the organisation or its goals and procedures.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The dissipative process of meaning in practice

I suggest that dissipation, in human settings such as "organisations", occurs in participating in ordinary, everyday conversations. For example, when we contact customers, the practical reason, the economic reason, might be to inform them of the current state of their accounts or to give them information about product specifications. However, this is usually not all we do. In addition we engage in talk characterised by redundancy from the point of view of economic value or business purpose.

Through these redundant communications, we acquire information about contextual variables, such as customer idiosyncrasies or customer intentions. We get information about competitors or about possible technological developments. This information however, is not purposefully sought. At the time, we do not know what to do with it. We did not intend to get it. We did not have any instrumental goal in mind while we were engaged in such ordinary conversations. It is not "knowledge being shared" since we do not use "it" to engage in some interaction. In fact, some times we simply regard it as a waste of precious time, or as politeness towards an unpleasant business acquaintance...

Most of the time, in ordinary conversations, we face some ambiguity and we sometimes have to probe for the meaning of the words pronounced by others. This happens because we engage in conversations using the pattern of talk that is pertinent to our own local interactions and life experiences. While others use different patterns of talk that have been developed in their own local interactions, as we together pattern our experiences of being together in the living present.

It is because each uses a pattern of talk referent to their own life experience that the potential for misunderstanding occurs. I suggest that what is being dissipated in conversation is this misunderstanding as people use their patterns of talk to negotiate the meaning of ambiguous, uncertain and ill-defined current or prospective events. Different patterns of talk interact to produce misunderstanding, that further interaction seeks to amplify as the misunderstanding is dissipated and the temporary stabilisation of new meaning, the dissipative "structure" of meaning, emerges. I want to argue that when the level and quality (potential for misunderstanding) of redundant diversity in a conversation reaches a critical point, usually because different patterns of talk are interacting with each, the potential arises for new patterns of meaning to emerge.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dissipative processes in human interaction

The word “dissipative” means dispersing, dispelling, breaking up, bringing to nothing, wasting or frittering away. It is synonymous with scattering, spreading, propagating, clearing away, spending and losing. The word “structure”, on the other hand means a supporting framework, or an organised whole consisting of essential parts.

It refers to the manner in which something is constructed. So, in putting these two words together, Prigogine is pointing to a form or pattern that is constructed through processes of propagation that are essentially dispersing, wasting or breaking up the very pattern they are constructing. Furthermore, he shows that such patterns emerge as a completely different patterns through a process of amplifying difference, so breaking down symmetry or order as an essential prerequisite for the emergence of the new. This is a process in which pattern emerges as continuity and transformation at the same time – the pattern is forming (transforming) and being formed (transformed) in interactive processes that are essentially ones of dispersing, breaking up and wasting.

The word “redundant” has similar connotations. It means superfluous and wasteful, that is, unnecessary duplication that is not required. However, what appears to be redundant may actually impart stability and robustness to a form. It is because the human brain duplicates many functions that it is robust in the sense that damage to one part can be compensated for by other parts. This is the same as the idea of loose coupling. Loosely coupled systems can continue to function when parts are damaged because no one part is absolutely essential, while tightly coupled systems cease to function when one part is damaged. I want to link the word “redundant” to the notion of diversity and fluctuations, which Prigogine shows to be essential to the emergence of new dissipative structures. What he is saying is that disorder, randomness and chaos, all normally thought to be wasteful or redundant are essential to the emergence of the new because new order emerges in the destruction of amplified diversity. One might say, therefore, that dissipative structures are characterised by “redundant diversity”.

This notion of redundant diversity provides an analogy for human experience. In human communicative interaction, I suggest, redundant diversity is experienced as misunderstanding. So, the analogy with human interaction could be understood as follows.

A dissipative structure in nature is really a process of construction, of continuously reproducing a particular pattern, through dissipating, that is propagating and dispersing energy or disorder (entropy). In other words, the process of construction is the dissipation of redundant diversity. By analogy, human interaction is continually reproducing patterns of understanding, that is, patterns of meaning. Patterns of meaning are being continually constructed in human interaction through a process of dissipating, that is, propagating and dispersing misunderstanding. I would define misunderstanding as the human experience of redundant diversity. In other words, human communicative interaction can be understood as a dissipative process in which what is being dissipated is redundant diversity understood as misunderstanding. At bifurcation points in human communicative interaction, redundant diversity experienced as misunderstanding arises as “fluctuations” in meanings that are amplified, as the symmetry of accepted meaning is broken up. It is in this process that the possibility for the emergence of new meaning arises. Human communicative interaction is fuelled by and serves to dissipate redundant diversity experienced as misunderstanding.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the structure

Societies are not about structures, institutions, processes, systems. No longer. The very fabric of contemporary societies are “events”. Be those “scandals”, “cases” or everyday minor difficulties of “famous” people… Luhmann was wrong. So were people from complexity sciences…

It is a continuum of discontinuities. Apparently, these events are singularities in nature. They do not display any evidence of connection between them. It is a process of random series of single events without the possibility of stochastic relationship and of learning to occur within the process. In fact there is no “process”. It is more like a spontaneous bubbling. The “next event” simply takes its place in the social arena, replacing the last one, no legacy or memory is required or involved in this process. Thus, there is no time, only here and now and me…

Without these forms of life there is no life. No press, no politics, no politicians, no journalists, nothing…

It is only about being alive in some space and time and producing utterances about the last plastic surgery made to some boobs.. or about the benefits of Botox...

social agents are, mainly, football players and bimbos...