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REVIEW of SERIOUS PLAY   &  WEEDS

Add your comment on this item1 Laurence J. Victor
larryvictor137@cs.com
homepage
520-296-8218
12/25/2001

 

Add your comment on this item2  PROLOGUE

Add your comment on this item3 I was attracted to read Serious Play  {great reviews plus 18 sample pages} because I had found Michael Schrage's Shared Spaces (on the need for better collaboration tools and environments) most valuable a decade ago. I need to go back and read his middle book, No More Teams. My intent is to extend Schrage's insights on innovation that employ models, prototypes, and simulations beyond the contemporary application in the worlds of business, government and the military.

Add your comment on this item4 Michael Schrage, a researcher at MIT's Media Lab has just begun writing a column for MIT's Technology Review. His first column, "Why Weeds?", in the Jan/Feb2002 issue will also be reviewed here, and extended. I have just started to read Technology Review and find it a valuable source of knowledge and insight. A version is also available online at http://www.technologyreview.com .

Add your comment on this item5 Tom Peters writes a rave Forward to the Serious Play, quoting:

Add your comment on this item6 "I just want 'to be seen' around this set of ideas. Frankly, I'm jealous. I'd love to have written this book! Innovation has long been my passion... But, Serious Play is simply the best book on innovation I've ever read. If you don't read this book and act, if you don't read this book and fundamentally reshape your unit's innovation process, you are making an enormous mistake - and bypassing the number one opportunity to revive and revise your organization. Read! Act! Now!" 4/20/99

Add your comment on this item7 "Playing with Prototypes" would, for me, be a more appropriate title, although it still doesn't emphasize the important role of prototypes influencing the learning of players, which is at the core of Schrage's insight. I hope to apply Schrage's insights by treating infrastructures as fundamentally virtual and prototype. This would include basic societal support infrastructures, corporate productive and financial infrastructures, governmental policy & procedure infrastructures, and educational and healthcare infrastructures. Although physical roads & conduits, buildings & equipment, inventories and accounts remain as necessary infrastructures - updated data about their natures and conditions becomes prototypes - structures providing context for action and for collaborative learning and exploration, but also capable of being modified by the interaction of humans. "Play", although retaining the element of enjoyable, here refers more to the element of free exploration. "Serious" refers to its essential relevance.

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item8 I intend to synthesize Schrage's insights with those in the NetLibrary eBook, The Emergent Organization, Communication as its Site and Surface by James R. Taylor and Elizabeth J. van Every; and with my 1994 Asilimar essay, The Fundamental Reality of Text. This is not a small "academic" concept. It has the potential of supporting major epistemic shifts, as the paradigms of flat-earth to spherical-earth impacted planetary exploration.

Add your comment on this item9 This version was composed on ECCO outliner, with some minor editing but with no serious attempt to integrate and rewrite. That will be the task of the first team to take this document as a prototype.

-- Larry Victor 12/23/01.

 


View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item10  FLOWERS OR WEEDS

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item11 quotes -- pp19, Technology Review, Special Issue, Vol. 105/No. 1, Jan/Feb 2002.

Add your comment on this item12 "In disciplines ranging from software to biotechnology to materials science, the rate of technical change has accelerated far more rapidly than the ability of most markets to successfully absorb it. The problem isn't figuring out how to get people to become more 'innovative'; it's figuring out how to get people to accept and apply innovations more productively. The glut of new ideas has paradoxically created a critical shortage of the human ingredients that determine just how quickly and cost effectively they get used."

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item13 "Invention is a flower, innovation is a weed/" (Bob Metcalfe). Weeds spread. "Great ideas aren't enough; they have to be adoptable and adaptable. After all, it is customers and clients -- not innovators -- who determine how great ideas become successful innovations." How innovations get sold often has absolutely nothing to do with how they actually get bought" .. or .. " how they actually get used." -- "this is more than semantics."

Add your comment on this item14 "There is a complex ecology of innovation that requires aspiring entrepreneurs and established institutions to rethink what it means to bring ideas to market." " 'Marketing' doesn't come close to capturing the underlying dynamic and dialog as innovators and customers experiment with beta software or brave new materials in order to get them to work. We need to recognize that the story of how a customer works with a new idea is every bit as dramatic and important as the story of how the innovator first came up with it."

 


INNOVATION, MODELS, PROTOTYPES,
SIMULATIONS, EVOLUTION

A review of Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate.

Add your comment on this item15 "Contrary to the popular assumption that innovative teams generate innovative prototypes,
in fact innovative prototypes generate innovative teams
".

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item16 This idea is repeated so frequently in the book that it almost becomes irritating -- yet it does emphasize the central theme of the book: collaborating individuals playing with a malleable, concrete model may witness a co-evolution of model, themselves, and their means of organization. This whole process can be recorded, observed and improved upon in subsequent iterations of the process.

Add your comment on this item17 The terms "model", "simulation" and "prototype" are used almost interchangeably. Although his primary focus is on digital models within computers, he makes reference to other models, such as the early clay prototypes of automobiles. He argues for a mix of model types and formats. What is significant about all three, is that they are concrete, material things/environments which people perceive and discuss and act upon. They are "learning environments". Changes in the participants and their processes is often more important than the changes in the models. Interaction with others about a structure causes changes in the interaction and changes in the structure. Organizations and processes, as well as products, can be modeled.

Add your comment on this item18 The book is addressed to people working in organizations that are attempting to innovate -- in rapidly changing, highly competitive, markets. Some references are to concepts and practices in this context of which I was unfamiliar. Although I found the book somewhat repetitive, it was valuable to gain empathy with those whose perspective he addresses. This is a real world, even though I have some serious concerns about where it is trending. I gained a new feeling for the processes that lead to new products as well as to the re-structuring of organizations.

Add your comment on this item19 SPREADSHEETS

Add your comment on this item20 To me, the exemplar of computer mediated models is the spreadsheet - the history of which Schrage gives special attention. As what often happens to many models, what starts out as a means only to make existing processes more efficient ultimately leads to new uses of the model that eventually transforms the organization. What is interesting about spreadsheet models is how they have been employed by financial institutions inventing many games to play with money. Almost all actions taken by institutions, for example, in takeovers, downsizing, reengineering, etc., are first simulated.

Add your comment on this item21 Personally, I started using the original spreadsheet, VisiCalc, on an Apple II to model student records for my five Introductory Psychology classes - which evolved to using Excel, and enabled me to offer a much greater mix and choice of student options. I could integrate all records, or transfer them, so students had the choice of any lecture or learning lab session to attend. Contrary to the policy of most instructors, my students had read-only access to their own spreadsheet records, and could play with an active copy of the model to see what was needed to achieve their desired grade. I periodically plotted graphs of class performance so students could see how they ranked. I would also post printouts of the spreadsheets in the classroom, as well as being open to discuss their records from a monitor. I realize now that using the spreadsheets probably gave some students a better comprehension of the overall class process. Unfortunately, I was unable to interest any other instructors to even look at my system; and I now realize that the only way to interest others would be to actually involve them in dialog while using the model.

Add your comment on this item22 There are some remaining queries I have re the history of spreadsheets. For a long time I heard that spreadsheets were available only on PCs, and were not available to those using mainframes or minicomputers. Is this true? Was it due to the long standing antagonism between main frame computer people and PC people? Were the advantages of computers for business held back by the backwardness of the mainframe people? When did spreadsheet collaboration online become first available? I don't know the design history of spreadsheets. Was it a way of manipulating cells in databases, or did they start from scratch.

Add your comment on this item23 In a later section I will discuss the use of Project Management Software as prototypes and query why Schrage makes no reference to them in this book.

 

Add your comment on this item24 EVOLUTION AS A MARKET PROCESS

Add your comment on this item25 Although not an explicit theme of the book, I did gain greater insight into the application of neo-Darwinian variation/selection as the essence of evolution in the modern market. As the technology of modeling improved and became orders-of-magnitude less expensive, the nature of modeling in innovation changed, and became more suitable for neo-Darwinian applications.. In prototyping for new products, it became important to radically shorten the time interval for each iteration and to be open to risking iterations that would not be selected. This is analogous to using selection to create new species with organisms that have a rapid reproduction cycle, like fruit flys. Modeling has become so cheap that innovators are encouraged to "waste" innovations (within limits).

Add your comment on this item26 Neo-Darwinian selection is a useful tool, in the appropriate situations. However I find it quite disturbing to see it elevated to a dogmatic fundamental principle in support of contemporary (pathological) market processes.

 

Add your comment on this item27 PATHOLOGICAL INNOVATION

Add your comment on this item28 Schrage devotes much of the book to the dangers of modeling, the extreme sensitivity of modeling to values and assumptions. He emphasizes how useful modeling can be to reveal hidden assumptions and values to an organization - but, how many organizations are not prepared for that self knowledge. Even within a full awareness of assumptions, there are always choices of values, which will bias the prototyping. One set of assumptions relates to who should be invited to participate in the prototyping, which may often include the customer.

 

Simply citing his section and chapter titles in his table of contents is revealing:

Add your comment on this item29  GETTING REAL

  • Add your comment on this item30  The New Economics of Innovation
  • Add your comment on this item31  A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge

Add your comment on this item32  MODEL BEHAVIOR

  • Add your comment on this item33  Our Models, Ourselves
  • Add your comment on this item34  Productive Waste
  • Add your comment on this item35  Preparing for Surprise
  • Add your comment on this item36  Perils of Pathological Prototyping

Add your comment on this item37  S(T)IMULATING INNOVATION

  • Add your comment on this item38  S(t)imulating Intervention
  • Add your comment on this item39  Measuring Prototyping Paybacks
  • Add your comment on this item40  Going Meta: Evolution as a Business Practice

Add your comment on this item41 His list of ten issues in the "Users Guide" for innovation is also revealing:

 

Add your comment on this item52 Software in development is its own prototype. Reflexivity?

Add your comment on this item53 I want only to mention here the special character of innovation with computer modeling, that the model may actually evolve literally into the product. Also, where there is modeling software, such as spreadsheets and project management applications, these tools can themselves be innovated upon. Users of models must be trained in their use, and training can often both involve the models, but also training software (that models the training). If records are made of dialog among users and designers when working with models, and these recordings analyzed, one can begin to develop models for such dialog and decision processes.

 


Add your comment on this item54 CRITIQUE

Add your comment on this item55 MISSING: PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS. WHY?

Add your comment on this item56 My second introduction to computer modeling (after spreadsheets) was with Project Management Software. I explored many of the earlier versions, and found in the 80's a small firm, Aha!, that gave you - on 5.5" floppies - introductory versions of many Project Management Applications. At that time, I was interested in collaboration online with Project Management Software -- which is only now becoming available.

Add your comment on this item57 I have also been disappointed at how limited Project Management Software applications are - being based on early paradigms of physical construction projects and then generalized to business. The use of Project Management Prototypes for the development of educational materials and systems, involving serious participation by the learner (as the customer is involved in business applications) were difficult to perform on business centered applications. Business oriented Project Design and Management Software Applications focused primarily on regulating the flow of money, resources, inventories and the scheduling of tasks. Learning and creating were not categories for budgeting either resources or time.

Add your comment on this item58 In the early 90s there were a few people I was corresponding with who wanted to organize virtually, using Project Management Systems, to demonstrate the complexity of what was needed - but we were frustrated by the lack of tools. Another problem at the time was the incompatibility of DOS and Apple systems. Some of us could have exchanged files online and used them in our personal computers -- but the software was usually not available on both IBM and MAC, and neither groups would shift platforms.

Add your comment on this item59 In the late 80s, the Electronic Networkers Association (ENA is no longer in existence), had as theme for its national conference in Philadelphia: BEYOND CONFERENCING. The vision was fully functional virtual (although the term was not yet used) organizations and projects. Although there are a number of systems currently being explored to augment virtual organization (Groove, CommunityZero, QuickTopic, for example), none yet seen to be adequate for general use. I would like to know of groups who have adapted systems to create functional, truly viable, virtual organizations. I would like to hear of scientific research projects that are conducted virtually.

Add your comment on this item60 LIMITED TO ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION ?

Add your comment on this item61 I fear that these new methods of innovation may result in a lesser ability to generate radically new (and possibly necessary) alternative ways of living, doing and organizing.

Add your comment on this item62 For over a decade I have followed those who have attempted to influence business to care more for people and the planet from working within corporations, or serving corporations as consultants. Although there has been considerable progressive change at working levels and lower level management, I find no evidence of positive change among the leaders of corporations - especially as the trends to a narrow form of globalization continues. Although there may be small pockets of improvement (ecological and humanistic) the overall trend is down AND it appears that the elite and top organizations are becoming more hardened and "fundamentalist" in their worldviews. There is no significant action to prepare for the coming planetary crises; indeed, there is a growing defense against all criticism of corporate dogma and an attempt to discredit those who call attention to our Crisis of Crises. Thus, I fear that improvement in innovation as documented by Schrage may, in the short and mid term, actually make thing much worse for human beings and planet Earth -- by strengthening the stranglehold corporations have over global policy.

  


Add your comment on this item63  GENERALIZING BEYOND BUSINESS:
INNOVATING FOR HUMANITY

Add your comment on this item64 SPIRITUAL FLOWERS, OR SPIRITUAL WEEDS?

Add your comment on this item65 Over millennia, creative individuals have had profound insights and their ideas were recorded. Sometimes, their "words" would gather a following, forming "schools" which attempted to preserve the flower of their sacred insights, and if not able to keep them alive, at least to preserve them for posterity. They would attempt to organize human movements that focused on the preserved flower as an eternal guide to life and action. Some of these insights were practical recommendations for action, but they were also often reified and treated as dogma. Some may be scientific or social proposals, and not categorically "spiritual" -- although they all have the intention of improving the life of humans.

Add your comment on this item66 Applying Schrage's view of innovation, we might conclude that "spiritual change agents and movements" have been frozen in inadequate worldviews and processes - and are blocked by their own dogmas against significant self change. What is needed is a radical shift of perspective - to begin viewing the "flowers" of our heritage as models for significant play and development. The issue of movements has always been how to "spread the word", but it has always been done while insisting on the "preservation of the word", and not letting people become practitioners. We need to transform these vital insights from precious flowers in need of careful nurturing to useful weeds (memes) that have both the ability to sustain themselves and spread, but are also open to variation, improvement, and synergy with other useful weeds.

Add your comment on this item67 One might propose that the initial intention of branching movements - as the Protestant Reformation - was to involve people in the modification of models, but their attempt was quickly directed towards the creation of new dogmas and new frozen models. What is necessary in the creative exploration of new worldly-spiritual systems are features that would prevent them freezing into dogmas and "sacred texts"?

Add your comment on this item68 In our era dominated by confrontation and competition, when presented with a new idea, our first reaction is to attack it. This is claimed to be the actual practice of science - the Popperian principle of new ideas facing a gauntlet of attempted refutation. Often ideas are shot down before they have had the chance to mature. Critics start with finding weak spots (in their limited interpretation) before even attempting to comprehend the new idea. This behavior is furthered by our natural psychological tendency to quickly categorize new experiences into old boxes, and to judge them superficially as good or bad, useful or useless. Processes of innovation will have to develop safeguards against these tendencies.

 

Add your comment on this item69 MODELS ARE THE ORGANIZATION, NOT REPRESENTATIONS OF THE ORGANIZATION

Add your comment on this item70 I don't wish to deny the "existence" of "something" "real" that we call GE, or IBM, or Wal*Mart. What I wish to claim is that all actions anyone takes in relationship to these "entities" is in terms of the comprehended "data, information and knowledge" that they perceive in relation to these so-called "organizations". We never perceive them "as organizations" as we perceive an apple "as an apple". Those who are concerned with "knowing" organization (and are not only a functional component) act by contributing to the archive of "data and information" related to that organization. This data and information about an organization is found in many media and formats. Perceiving physical structures (buildings housing an organization) and the behavior of people (CEOs, employees, customers) is one type of information - that is (itself) seldom raw perception but interpretations based on contexts and hidden assumptions. But, more and more the organization is found in patterns among marks on media - text and/or graphics on pages or monitor screens. Conversations also contribute to a person's information input about an organization.

Add your comment on this item71 It should be noted that ALL that we know about an organization is derived from data and information, perceived and comprehended, and all actions we take in relation to an organization is through an exchange of data and information. The pattern of organization, the "systemics" of an organization, is created in the mind/brains of those who processes relevant data and information -- not so much ABOUT the organization as WITH the organization -- which for all practical purposes IS the data and information. Even the material inventories for production as well as the products produced and shipped are data and information. Consumers perceive objects they purchase (which is processed information) and often make decisions about purchase from data provided in ads and descriptions.

Add your comment on this item72 There are complex philosophical and technical discussions about "representations" and "reality" that I don't comprehend well. So, this issue is not about a "truth" as to how representations are related to organizations, but that the issue of such a relationship needs further study.

 

Add your comment on this item73 SEMIOTIC STRUCTURES

Add your comment on this item74 I wish to name a category of things, Semiotic Structures, that are physical, material "things", "made of matter", that are capable of being perceived through application of the human senses, that have the following characteristics. One, on being perceived, they give rise to "meaning" (to be partly explicated soon). And, secondly, they are theoretically (and usually, practically) replicable. The pattern (space-time variations of sensation, either by a person scanning a fixed structure, or a causally determined space-time presentation of stimuli) is what is replicable -- NOT the material substrate serving as host for the pattern.

Add your comment on this item75 For example, a scanned copy of a page in a book contains the same pattern - even if enlarged or shrunk. Replications can lead to minor distortion or loss of subpatterns, but given the assessment of those who agree to the replication (as preserving the "meaning"), replication can be 100% accurate -- as to the pattern. Exceptions might be when a new code, for example, may be incorporated and hidden in the matrix of ink making the characters of the original text. Semiotic structures may be superimposed.

Add your comment on this item76 Thus, although we can never enter a physical river twice - each moment is different - the pattern we read on a page is assumed to be the same each time we read it, and it is assumed to be the same for most others who also read it. Which is NOT to say that all will gain the same "meaning" when reading it.

Add your comment on this item77 A test for the accuracy of replication would be for a person who doesn't comprehend the semiotic structure to make for themselves a copy that is then judged by a person who finds meaning in the structure and its copy. When teaching an experimental course in Learning to Learn and Love Math, I had students (who feared math) copy math expressions in detail. I chose these from some of the most complex mathematical expressions I could find, as well as text that used strange characters, as Arabic. I had expected that some details would not be perceived or copied accurately. I was surprised to discover that almost everyone was able to copy the symbols, accurately preserving the spatial pattern.. Where difficulty existed, it was in preserving the relative sizes and orientation of different marks in the symbolism.

Add your comment on this item78 The visual and tactile surfaces of a city -- its general "architecture" is a semiotic structure. Theoretically, we can replicate any semiotic structure so that persons won't (by ordinary means) be able to distinguish between the original and the replication. In practice, this would often be very difficult. We interpret such "urban structures" as walls and roads and doors and desks - with the appropriate responses we give to them. The detailed pattern of gravel in an alley would not be considered semiotic structure, unless someone had arranged it in ways that told of its history, or was used as an expressive medium.

Add your comment on this item79 This category, semiotic structures, is a prototype or model for a new reality -- which is proposed to be of existential parity with that of the Material and the Mental, of Matter and Mind.

 

Add your comment on this item80 MEANING

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item81 Humans have yet to be able to adequately define "meaning", and it may not be definable. If we live in an area where there are dogs, when we perceive a dog we identify our perception as an animal of the category, "dog"; although usually we just notice it and probably are not conscious of the word "dog". Yet, "dog" and related concepts serve as context for the experiential, giving it "meaning" -- that which is beyond the patterns on the retina and processed within the brain.

Add your comment on this item82 Although we may talk and write about "meaning", it is somehow integral to the very processes of languaging. Meaning is not contained in semiotic structures, but arise from relationships between minds and semiotic structures, mediated by brain activity. "Mind", "Brain", "Meaning" are but labels for prototypes in development.

 

Add your comment on this item83 SEMIOTIC REALITY

Add your comment on this item84 I propose that we learn to treat "semiotic realities" as one of three "equal" realities, along with the mental and the material. All three are both independent and interdependent. None can exist without the others, but none are determined solely by the others. This perspective/approach may give us the tools we need to change as we must to survive/thrive.

Add your comment on this item85 An example. In many scientific situations we translate our observations into mathematical symbolism, then play with the symbolism until a perceivable form of the symbols gives us "meaning", and then we translate the symbolism back to the physical. Although our primary objective is with the physical system, by applying to tools of symbolic representation and mathematical manipulation, we can arrive at potential solutions to our physical problem. These tools do not guarantee success - as the assumptions that lead to the symbolic representations may be wrong, and sometimes even the procedures of mathematical manipulation may be invalid. Yet, the tools have been invaluable in the history of human ideas.

Add your comment on this item86 We need to reexamine history in the context of a distinct semiotic reality. We will probably discover that almost all human decisions are made in terms or human comprehension of semiotic realities and not in terms of what is "really happening". We become so good at working with this fiction, that whenever things go wrong we are always able to rationalize the happenings in terms of modified semiotic realities. In its strong form, we assert that humans can never know external reality directly, and all inferences are open to questioning. In our historical survey we will discover how new technologies for working with semiotic realities have transformed these realities. Yet, in our gut we believe that we have good enough knowledge of the "real" reality that we can treat semiotic realities as problems only when intentional deception is involved.

Add your comment on this item87 Whether they are deliberately explicit about it or not, corporations are far more effective and efficient in working with semiotic realities than loose groupings of citizens. Through the use of semiotic realities, large organizations coordinate the actions of millions of individual persons - making the loose cooperative actions of humanistic change agents virtually non-existent.

 

Add your comment on this item88 DIFFICULTIES WITH SEMIOTIC REALITIES

Add your comment on this item89 Although the "marks in media" are "objective", and may be the same for all perceiving - yet giving radically different perceptions and interpretations -- these interpenetrating cyberworlds are far more complex that our hypothesized material worlds. Each person, or culture, has access to only a very small percent of available "texts" or semiotic structures. The interactions that occur over "texts" are complex, and fraught with difficulty - and there are differences among those who seek to study the interpretation of texts.

 

Add your comment on this item90 SETTINGS FOR HUMAN INTERACTION

Add your comment on this item91 Until we develop telepathy, humans will interact with each other in settings, in sensory environments. Even when talking over the phone, each person is in their own setting, and may have sensory imagery of each other in imagined settings. Often the shared setting provides content for the dialog - other times the setting is only backdrop, but can contribute to the mood of the dialog.

Add your comment on this item92 Most human play is in terms of settings. Chess and checker boards, other game boards and now electronic games. Physical play on fields with balls and other devices involves body movements. Players move in these settings, interacting with each other.

Add your comment on this item93 When teams construct buildings, the structure, tools and materials provide a setting for the workers to collaborate in the construction process. Once a task has been completed, the setting may not obviously signal what task is to be undertaken next. This sequencing of tasks is governed by a "plan", either in the memory of the expert leaders (gained from prior experiences) or from a plan in a semiotic structure -- a blueprint or a computer project management application. When the plan for the building is under design, the designers interact with settings that are semiotic structures. Schrage proposes that in some cases, these prototypes serve as settings for mutual learning by participants, where there is a co-development in the emergence of an innovative plan and the emergence of an innovative team.

Add your comment on this item94 "Presence" is a matter of mind and attitude. We automatically believe that face-to-face is somehow essentially different than mediated communication. But, we know that some people approach telephone chatting as "real", and that asynchronous email can even feel "real". What is experienced as "real" is learned. Virtual communities have all the potential as becoming as "real" as f2f organizations. Indeed, when we carefully study f2f interactions we discover that shifting attention, distortions as to expectations, emotional masking, and variations in individual differences in cognition and imaging -- all lead to the "accuracy and utility" of close one-to-one communication being an illusion. Indeed, the non verbal signaling from ancient inherited programs re dominance make many f2f interactions far less free"and open to creative interaction than those linked by intelligent interfaces. This implies that virtual communities have greater potential for serving the needs of both individual humans and global human society than organizations dependent on f2f interaction and gatherings.

Add your comment on this item95 This is NOT to say that we should all be living in isolated boxes, linked by computers. Indeed, as I have written on elsewhere, the "unit" for network interaction should be a team of individuals in a real-time, f2f setting sharing I/O interfaces -- which I have called a "colab studio".

Add your comment on this item96 Training is essential for any practice to become "tacit" and "natural". We need to devise exercises with coaching to assist us becoming fluent with processes within virtual communities. We cannot prejudge the utility of a technology by its initial reception and the difficulty people may have learning to master the technology.

 


Add your comment on this item97  WHAT AM I TRYING TO SAY ?

Add your comment on this item98 I have read and reread what I have written above, many times. I make modifications and add parts, but I seem not to be getting at what I wish to share from my reading of Serious Play. I will try to address that here.

Add your comment on this item99 For human issues beyond a small consensual group, details about working with semiotic structures is essential for human multi-millennial survival/thrival, as well as making it through the next few years. It may be that attention to semiotic structures will also enhance human thought and behavior within an individual and within those small consensual groups.

Add your comment on this item100 Those social systems that dominate employ the technology of semiotic structures many orders of magnitude better than those they dominate. The new technologies of computers and networking provide tools for alternative forms of human organization, where dominance is not the norm. However, the dominant are now taking advantage of these technologies to expand their power and make it more secure. People who have explored a wealth of alternatives and new potentials have not mobilized to organize to really make use of this technology. This is mostly due to the lack of imagination, to envision what is really possible. And, much of this lack can be traced to a long standing bias of "people centered" persons against "talk". They prefer feeling and poorly considered action in response to their feelings.

Add your comment on this item101 This is still not what I want to share. This emergent text is a prototype of a semiotic structure (a text) that I envision. I have been playing with it for days, in short bursts, never feeling satisfied as to progress. This morning (12/23/01-- six days after beginning) I woke with the insights that "virtual infrastructures as prototypes" was the link to my previous mission/vision for nu human organizations (nuco with colab studios - leading to Easemen). And that "educational infrastructure as prototype" was the link to my previous mission/vision for nu education/learning systems/processes (Learners for Quality Education and Creative Collaborative "Organizing for Learning & Learning for Organizing"). So, the play continues.

 

Add your comment on this item102 VIRTUAL INFRASTRUCTURES

Add your comment on this item103 Some roads and bridges are below standard, are in need of immediate repair or a reduction of traffic. There are relatively unorganized sets of data representing the state of our nation's roads and bridges. How accurate is it, how effectively updated, who has access, what are the explicit procedures for having this data influence scheduling and supervising work on roads and bridges, what are the procedures for improving all systems and procedures related to maintaining our road and bridge infrastructure? Ask these same questions for all other societal support infrastructures.

Add your comment on this item104 I speculate that corporations have far better (than those for public infrastructures) virtual infrastructures "representing" the material infrastructures that support their business - and they manipulate these virtual infrastructures when they plan re-engineering, downsizing, and acquisitions. Yet, I also expect that to meet the competitive bottom line, corporations are also weak in many essential virtual infrastructuring. This is aggravated by the fact that our technological expertise for virtual infrastructuring is spotty re quality and its R&D development without quality direction.

Add your comment on this item105 At some point it may be useful to organize a mission to create a virtual infrastructure for all the essential infrastructures on Planet Earth. This would be a project similar to the genome mapping projects, but much more complex. It could be done if there was a will to do it, which would also provide needed resources. Whether such a project would be useful depends on a different system (also with a virtual infrastructure) that would enable augmented humankind to appropriately use the planetary virtual infrastructure to guide repair and new construction. For any virtual infrastructure to be useful the values and hidden assumptions that give it a necessary bias must be explored - and that exploration, too, requires another system and virtual infrastructure to function. None of these virtual infrastructures can be created quickly (each virtual infrastructure requires a material system to augment it and persons appropriately trained to use that material system). Forces that would work against such efforts would remain strong. Thus, the likelihood of this being accomplished is very low, unless there are some insights that might reveal an alternative way for achieving the same objectives.

Add your comment on this item106 The above vision is what is needed if our objective is to TRANSFORM our contemporary world (with all its beauty and ugly warts), by gradual and scientifically incremental, coordinated changes phased over time. I propose that a general systems study of this objective would conclude that it is impossible to achieve. That the REFORM of large, complex, dysfunctional systems is IMPOSSIBLE. However, to TRANSFORM the world is not our only positive option.

Add your comment on this item107 The other option is to seed and nurture the EMERGENCE of a new planetary human system. I have learned that this option is very difficult for most people to comprehend, as the transformation paradigm is so very powerful that it attracts distortions of emergence into itself and believes it understands. I cannot explicate the alternative to transformation here, as this mode of discourse prohibits it. The insight I gather from Schrage is that I must start by creating small and primitive virtual prototypes and invite others to play with them, and if the prototypes are appropriately designed, the players will learn from the play and facilitate the emergence of the prototypes. This will involve initially a small population of individuals, playing in prototypes with their virtual community, and coming - hopefully - from the whole planetary population. I will refrain from going into more detail on this, at this time, as I recognize that this is not the appropriate medium.

 

Add your comment on this item108 EDUCATION AS PROTOTYPE

Add your comment on this item109 The infrastructure of an educational system is special. Contemporary educational institutions get funding primarily to construct physical infrastructures, buildings and equipment. The profit economy engineers funding and budgets towards this priority - as that channels the educational funds back into the pockets of business. Very few resources are given to the DEVELOPMENT of better educational processes and relevant training of educators. The bulk of money for personnel is only to maintain their low pay and keep them docile.

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item110 The educational infrastructure I speak to goes beyond the material and the simple employment of staff. I refer to the semiotic structures with which educators and learners interact and which facilitate their interaction. The textbook is a common, but restricted exemplar, as is the process of classroom instruction. From my insight of Learners for Quality Education, LQE, where all participants are learner/educators and the emergence of the educational system (organizing for learning and learning for organizing) is directed by the needs of the learner (not knowledge experts or teachers - who are valuable consultants, but not bosses).

Add your comment on this item111 Thus, the core of LQE would be a virtual semiotic infrastructure serving as a prototype, model, simulation for serious play by learners (who also serve in roles of facilitators of learning for others). This would be "systems, curricula and educational materials". This is far beyond what is currently available as distance learning and educational software applications.

Add your comment on this item112 This virtual semiotic educational infrastructure requires material infrastructures to support it -- primarily networked intelligent electromechanical systems to augment the serious play. There will be great overlap between the virtual prototypes for general societal infrastructure and that for semiotic educational infrastructure.

 


 PROCESS / STRUCTURE COMPLEMENTARITY

Add your comment on this item113 What has been enhanced for me by Schrage's Serious Play and Taylor & van Every's The Emergent Organization is how "processes" gives rise to changes in "structure", which reflexively cycles back to both serve as a foundation for process and facilitating process changing. AND, that the structure is primarily semiotic.

Add your comment on this item114 Years ago I discovered a new way of comprehending the complementarity of process and structure by reframing them into another pair: "processing structure" and "structuring process". I will later attempt to link, here, what I wrote on this. The key is that any attempt to comprehend and share "process" involves finding "temporal patterns" what must be explicated as "spatialized patterns" or structures. Thus all representations of processes are structured. The opposite applies when we attempt to perceive and comprehend a spatial structure - we must scan it over time, we apply the processes of perception to the structure. The experiencing of structure involves the creation of process, and the comprehension of process involves the creation of structure.

Add your comment on this item115 Taylor and van Every explicate how the structure of organizations emerges from the interaction of persons, communicating with each other - often about text and other products of interpersonal interaction "within" the organization. The conventional metaphor of there being a fixed (or very slowly changing) structure which hosts communication and actions is but one of a pair of essential perspectives. The other complementary perspective views structures as only being temporary abstractions, emergent as we attempt to comprehend and represent organizational dynamics. This harks back to Erich Jantsch's view of structures as standing waves in the flux of process.

Add your comment on this item116 Schrage explicates the same point. Innovators interacting with each other about semiotic structures (prototypes) give rise to the organizational processes of innovation, and the structure of the innovation organization (team).

Add your comment on this item117 The future of planetary humanity will emerge as a dialectic process of human collaborative interaction with semiotic structures, at the same time giving rise to changes in those semiotic structures. This rather abstract notion can have very practical consequences. By no longer viewing "organizational structures" as primary, we are open to consider a full repertoire of actions that we never before imagined.