Editorial and preface


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011



Rudall, B.H. (2011), "Editorial and preface", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 No. 7/8. https://doi.org/10.1108/k.2011.06740gaa.027



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Editorial and preface

Article Type: Editorial and preface From: Kybernetes, Volume 40, Issue 7/8

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the publication of Kybernetes, special double issues of the journal have been compiled. Three of these form Issue Nos 1-6 and have covered a wide range of topics that we believe illustrate the depth and wide ranging fields that make up the multi- and trans-disciplinary fields of cybernetics, systems and management sciences. This special double issue, together with issues 9/10, will complete our celebrations of the journal founded by Professor Jack Rose in 1972, as a quarterly, and with pagination of some 70 pages per issue.

Over the 40 years of its publication, it has expanded both in size and in its interests. It has embraced cybernetics and systems, and more recently, management sciences, so that they form an integrated and relevant field that can provide innumerable opportunities for further research and development. In particular, the present editorial team has published contributions that marry theory and practice in many novel and often fascinating ways, which emphasise the practical significance of the application.

This special issue is but one testimony to the success of this policy which was initiated some 20 years ago and has resulted in our anniversary volume providing papers covering such a wide scope of endeavour.

The Cybernetics, Art, Design and Mathematics (C:ADM) Conference at Troy, NY, USA (2010) was arranged by the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC). Not only did it inspire its participants but, through the good offices of our EAB member, Professor Ranulph Glanville, it has allowed our readers to share the experience through the publication of selected, and updated conference contributions.

We are therefore extremely grateful to Ranulph Glanville and his fellow Guest Editor, Ben Sweeting for preparing this issue and for ensuring the papers were revised after the conference and reviewed for publication.

Readers are invited to access the conference reports of this ASC event (Umpleby, 2011; Wiltschnig and Hohl, 2011) published in an earlier issue of this volume. These communications set out the background to the event and provide incisive comment on what was a remarkable conference.

Wiltschnig and Hohl (2011) write:

[…] C:ADM 2010 aimed at prototyping an innovative conference format structured around conversations rather than paper presentations with the purpose to create powerful questions that were able to generate inspiring novel avenues of enquiry.

How can we describe an extraordinary experience? This one was definitely intense and a clash of extremes for us. The event was characterised by discussions, organized in small, interdisciplinary groups around the themes of “trans-, inter-, multi- and meta-disciplines” and the tension between “actual and abstract”. The encounters within and around discussions were full of provocative arguments, passionate opinions and occasional frustration about individuals trying to dominate a discussion. At the same tine, they were full of depth, surprise, erudition, wit and beauty. This was not only a result of the chosen format, but also of the diverse personalities of the individuals attending. We believe everybody was aware of participating in a very special gathering. Both of us are still busy digesting our experiences and trying to arrange and integrate them. The conversations with our fellow attendees are continuing in various modes and media even after the event.

Whilst Umplegy (2011) described the conference as “[…] not like previous ASC meetings” and proceeds to explain why. In his report of the event, he says that:

For me, the conference was important because I was stimulated to think about the close relationship between cybernetics and design. As described by Ranulph, design is a recursive process involving numerous sketches. “Think with your pencil”. Drawing on my own experience in working with an architect to design an addition to a house, I remember not only the many sketches but also the conversations between designer and client. It occurred to me that the process of sketch, conversation, sketch, test, sketch, etc. is a very general description of how any designer works, not only architects but also software developers, computer simulators, legislators and others. One function of a sketch or a design is to hold previous decisions so attention can be focused on a smaller part. I have long believed that any model is better than no model because with a model the mind can focus either on the whole or parts and thereby encompass far greater variety than with no model to aid memory. The language used in creating a model is much less important than that a model is created.

In total, 23 contributions are included, all with intriguing titles, and which fall within the scope of, a conference that involved “Cybernetics: Art, Design and Mathematics.” This special anniversary issue provides us with an insight into a progressive study of research and development that perhaps, in its earlier years this journal would not care to cover. In the last 25 years, we have moved from publishing only in the traditional and familiar areas of cybernetics and systems. We are most indebted to our Guest editors for their presentation of a collection of studies that are both stimulating and innovative and clearly capture the spirit of C:ADM. As is our usual practice, we include at the end of this double issue a selection of our regular journal sections. We have included a notice of the death of Professor Gary Boyd who has contributed to these issues and whose paper is published here in his memory.

Brian H. RudallEditor-in-Chief


Umpleby, S. (2011), “Reflections on the ASC Conference at Troy, NY, on Cybernetics, Art, Design, Mathematics”, Kybernetes, Vol. 40 Nos 1/2, pp. 330–2

Wiltschnig, S. and Hohl, M. (2011), “A world brought forth with others?”, Kybernetes, Vol. 40 Nos 1/2, pp. 332–3

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