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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
To be and not to be, that is the system - a tribute to Stafford Beer
In addition to reviews of books by our distinguished reviewers we have also introduced into this section of the journal a selection of reports on books that have been of particular interest to our readers. In many cases books have been presented either before or after their production in hardcopy, as CD-ROMs or, indeed, in other media. The following text, which has already been described in Kybernetes, has now been made available as a Festschrift CD-ROM and because of its importance we are pleased to include information about it.
To be and not to be, that is the system a tribute to Stafford Beer
Editors: Raul Espejo and Markus Schwaninger
(April 1998)ISBN 3-89670-063-4Syncho, BirminghamCD-ROM (£22.55 per copy plus VAT,where appropriate and packaging) also Carl-Auer-Systeme Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany.
The production is regarded as a new approach to collaborative publishing, using the new multi-media CD-ROM. The compilers believe that it uncovers the potentials of cybernetics to organisations and society. As a tribute to Stafford Beer it offers 12 aspects of management cybernetics in a multi-authored book. The producers of the new CD-ROMs say that :
This Festschrift is a tribute to Stafford Beer. The idea was to use systems ideas in its production. Since it can be argued that Beer himself is one of the outstanding systems thinkers of our days, nothing is better than using his own work for this purpose. This Festschrift has been produced using one of his own inventions Syntegration (Stafford Beer, Beyond Dispute, Wiley, 1994). It is the outcome of 30 people from all round the world working in collaboration.
This group has tested the Syntegration communications protocol as a means of creating a common knowledge product. The usual solution, in similar circumstances, where the purpose is producing a book in honour of an outstanding thinker, is to make the task manageable by decoupling participants and asking them to produce independent contributions.
However, in our case the production of the Festschrift is underpinned by a truly integrative protocol. In this book we can appreciate a rich tension between an individual's desire to make a genuine personal contribution, and a group's desire to conjointly make such a contribution. This concerns the real problems of collaboration in any social context.
The names and contents of the 12 chapters were created together by the 30 participants in a heterarchical process of interactions. Following the protocols and methodology of Syntegration itself, these chapters are related to the vertices of a 12-coloured icosahedron, used throughout the CD-ROM. The topics of these chapters are as follows: Black: Team syntegrity as the practice of democracy; Yellow: Humanizing society; Light blue: Methodology; Dark blue: Recursive organization; Purple: Second order cybernetics; Gold: Spirituality and self-transformation; Silver: Communication and information; Brown: Diffusion of cybernetics; Orange: Cybernetics and community; Green: Adaptive ecological organizations; Red: Management knowledge and knowledge management; White: Cybernetics and ethics.
Each chapter has been introduced by a short description of the process. There, the reader can appreciate success and failure stories. The results are the ones you will be able to appreciate by seeing, hearing and reading the Festschrift. The task was not easy, and indeed, there is much to do in order to make it better in the future.
Raul Espejo, University of Lincolnshire and Humberside, and Markus Schwaninger, University of St Gallen, Editors, April 1998.
Requirements: Display: Minimum 800 × 600, 8 bit colour (16 bit recommended) CD-ROM: Minimum 8-speed (Maximum possible recommended) PC: Windows 95 or 3.1, Pentium 120MHz with 16MB RAM or better Macintosh®: PowerMac with 12MB RAM (16MB recommended)
In German-speaking countries contact: Carl-Auer-Systeme Verlag, Weberstr 2, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany. Tel: +49 6221 64380; www.heidelbergergruppe.com