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Managing Complex Systems

Tracking flow in storytelling

By Marc Maxson  ·  July 25, 2011  ·  Managing Complex Systems

I'm pleased to be invited as a guest blogger! I actually don't know many of the other insightful bloggers here, which is a shame since there are so many interesting ideas. I stay holed up in East Africa running the GlobalGiving Storytelling Project and doing whatever it takes to turn >13,000 stories into meaningful community information for the hundreds of local NGOs we serve. Being in the communities (but not involved in story collection) allows me to see whether the process is going awry.

The most valuable piece of information for...


Intersubjective Collective Intelligence Systems for Crisis Management & Response

By Noah Raford  ·  July 24, 2011  ·  Managing Complex Systems


A terrible tragedy happened this week in Oslo. A single Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik, possibly acting alone, took the lives of almost 100 people in a singular act of violence. This was the worst act of non-wartime violence in Norway’s history, producing twice the fatalities per capita than September 11th. Our heart goes out to the entire community of victims in and around Oslo, who will no doubt be suffering from this for years to come.

While the news was still unfolding, the social media sphere was abuzz with...


From One to Many: Egocentricity and Allocentricity in the Design of Collective Intelligence Systems

By Noah Raford  ·  July 23, 2011  ·  Managing Complex Systems


In his essay Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage, the great anthropologist Victor Turner wrote, “as members of society, most of us see only what we expect to see, and what we expect to see is what we are conditioned to see when we have learned the definitions and classifications of our culture.”

This is a good definition of egocentricity; the process of experiencing the world from a single point of view. As human beings, we tend to see what we expect to see (which, ironically, is often given to us by...


Learning to See the Unseen

By Noah Raford  ·  July 14, 2011  ·  Managing Complex Systems


In 1979, the American psychologist J.J. Gibson published the book, “The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception”, in which he argued that, “knowing is an extension of perceiving” and that perceiving, “goes far beyond the sensory act of seeing”. In seeking to understand the question, “what is visual perception?”, Gibson came to the radical conclusion that perception is not about what is seen, but rather, that which is unseen, i.e., our ability to infer the reality of objects that are hidden or occluded from our...


Foveal and Peripheral Vision Threats

By Noah Raford  ·  July 11, 2011  ·  Managing Complex Systems


What are the nature of the threats we face in the 21st Century?

Dave and I were at a defense conference on complexity and collapse recently, where senior intelligence, military, academic and business people debated this very question.

One attendee told a story that stuck with me. He had been an intelligence advisor for almost forty years. In the 1970's and 1980's, his job was to correlate intelligence about threats from Soviet invasions or nuclear strikes.

"In those days," he told us, "everything was easier."