Obituary notice


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011


Boyd, G. (2011), "Obituary notice", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 No. 7/8.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Obituary notice

Article Type: Obituary notice From: Kybernetes, Volume 40, Issue 7/8

Gary Boyd (Figure 1), Emeritus Professor of Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal, died on 2 April 2011. He was a long-term and active member of the American Society for Cybernetics. The sad news was passed to ASC members by the President, Ranulph Glanville.

 Figure 1 Photo of Gary Boyd

Figure 1 Photo of Gary Boyd

Ranulph reported that Gary had had a seemingly successful operation for bowel cancer just before Christmas. He was having chemotherapy to follow this up, but suffered dehydration leading to electrolyte collapse and a heart attack. His wife died of cancer several years ago.

Ranulph went on to observe that Gary’s was an inventive mind, widely read and cultured. He had worked in early years on pollution in the Arctic. He was very concerned at the state of the world, wanting to bring it together, to make it cybersystemic. He loved Shakespeare and wished he had directed his plays. He enjoyed driving a convertible sports car. He was generous and kind, and ready to engage in argument, as demonstrated in online discussion lists and elsewhere, and will be missed.

Here are some quotes, from Gary’s Faculty web site at Concordia University (, describing his research activities:

My current projects have to do with: Aesthetics, Emergent Levels, Cybersystemic Systems learning and evaluation, Cybersystemic modelling, Team Learning, and Educative Computer-based games. The overall orientation of my research is to support much more potent and inclusive education to enable World-wide eco-co-cultural symviability. This shall be more than mere symbiosis among cultures and between cultures and nature. It will require each of us while conserving our wonderful languages religions and traditions, to prune them for compatibility with each other and evolutionary reality. It requires that we all curtail our competitive genes & memes propagative instincts enough so that we do not destroy all good possibilities for generations to come. At present the outlook is bleak. However, we must hope that educational technology can be used to change human nature enough so that our grandchildren’s prospects will be better than those of the one-third of today’s’ children who are existing in abject misery.

My own educational-cybersystemic theory construction has been largely based on Mario Bunge’s formal theory of levels, and upon Russell Ackoff’s and Fred Emery’s cybernetic levels interpreted in the light of Maslow’s needs levels and the Bloom, Masia and especially Krathwohl taxonomies of educational objectives. I use and advocate the kinds of requisite-variety values implicit in each of these Emergent Complex Adaptive System levels to appraise and improve educative systems. Gordon Pask’s Conversation Theory combined with understandings from Klaus Krippendorf, and Gerald Edelman and Dan Dennet and D’amasio has yielded my model of human being and appropriate forms of learning support systems.

Reader’s of Kybernetes can find a summary of Gary’s appreciation of Pask’s conversation theory here:

  • Boyd, G. (2001), “Reflections on the conversation theory of Gordon Pask”, Kybernetes, Vol. 30 Nos 5/6, pp. 560-70.

His own work is described in a recent paper here:

  • Boyd, G. and Zeman, V. (2007), “Designing cybersystemically for symviability”, Kybernetes, Vol. 36 Nos 9/10, pp. 1255-65.

Gary Boyd’s paper “Why the arts needs cybernetics for our long-term viability” is published in memoriam in this special issue. He was also a supporter of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics and he participated in its congress. At the last 14th Congress in Wroclaw, Poland, he took a leading role, and in particular, presented the paper “Software and viable systems development with ‘j-Maps’ models and learning conversations” jointly with Wojciech Jaworski (Kybernetes, Vol. 38 Nos 7/8, 2009, 1344-58).

Gary also has a web site with more information about his research and publications at:

Other obituaries for Gary can be found here at: and

Alex M. Andrew and Bernard Scott