How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture & design

“With their “monster” prototypes and their Frankenstein publications, many of the cybernetics folks were more than scientists. They were designers and hackers. Do-it-yourself pranksters. Drug-taking dreamers. Hypertext hipsters—moving us from Memex to Mosaic. They hastened desktop publishing. They laid the foundation for human-computer interaction, and they paved the way for interaction design. As they turned their focus to second-order cybernetics and conversation, they created existence proofs for “comprehensive design”—a still emerging approach to design concerned with interaction between humans. By doing so, they gave us hope for the future—hope that we might work together to save the whole earth. In the past twenty years, design has begun to catch up with cybernetics. Design practice has become enmeshed in systems and ecologies. Collaboration and transdisciplinarity have become key themes. What’s more, we now recognize that the major issues the world faces—the issues that really matter—are all systems issues. They are wicked problems, which means they are essentially political in nature and cannot be “solved” by experts. We are, in Rittel’s phrase, enmeshed in a “symmetry of ignorance.”[63] The only way forward is through conversation. These facts make cybernetics newly relevant, because it offers tools and models, as it did at the Macy Conferences—for grappling with systems issues and the unknowable “messes” that confront us—a lingua franca of design. As Pask noted: “Human interaction is a major source of difficulties which can only be overcome by cybernetic thinking.”

rest @


About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s