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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Ranulph Glanville

The purpose of this paper is to explore the two subjects, cybernetics and design, in order to establish and demonstrate a relationship between them. It is held that the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the two subjects, cybernetics and design, in order to establish and demonstrate a relationship between them. It is held that the two subjects can be considered complementary arms of each other.

Design/methodology/approach

The two subjects are each characterised so that the author's interpretation is explicit and those who know one subject but not the other are briefed. Cybernetics is examined in terms of both classical (first‐order) cybernetics, and the more consistent second‐order cybernetics, which is the cybernetics used in this argument. The paper develops by a comparative analysis of the two subjects, and exploring analogies between the two at several levels.

Findings

A design approach is characterised and validated, and contrasted with a scientific approach. The analogies that are proposed are shown to hold. Cybernetics is presented as theory for design, design as cybernetics in practice. Consequent findings, for instance that both cybernetics and design imply the same ethical qualities, are presented.

Research limitations/implications

The research implications of the paper are that, where research involves design, the criteria against which it can be judged are far more Popperian than might be imagined. Such research will satisfy the condition of adequacy, rather than correctness. A secondary outcome concerning research is that, whereas science is concerned with what is (characterised through the development of knowledge of (what is)), design (and by implication other subjects primarily concerned with action) is concerned with knowledge for acting.

Practical implications

The theoretical validity of second‐order cybernetics is used to justify and give proper place to design as an activity. Thus, the approach designers use is validated as complementary to, and placed on an equal par with, other approaches. This brings design, as an approach, into the realm of the acceptable. The criteria for the assessment of design work are shown to be different from those appropriate in other, more traditionally acceptable approaches.

Originality/value

For approximately 40 years, there have been claims that cybernetics and design share much in common. This was originally expressed through communication criteria, and by the use of classical cybernetic approaches as methods for use in designing. This paper argues a much closer relationship between cybernetics and design, through consideration of developments in cybernetics not available 40 years ago (second‐order cybernetics) and through examining the activity at the heart of the design act, whereas many earlier attempts have been concerned with research that is much more about assessment, prescription and proscription.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 36 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Ranulph Glanville

The purpose of this editorial is to reach out to an audience that Kybernetes has not previously tried to reach – designers – in an effort to build a bridge connecting…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this editorial is to reach out to an audience that Kybernetes has not previously tried to reach – designers – in an effort to build a bridge connecting cybernetics and design.

Design/methodology/approach

Provides a brief review of the papers within the issue.

Findings

The collection of papers may provoke wonder, enquiry, and a wish not only to respect each field, but also to open up, to find out more and, perhaps, to enter into a symbiotic bridge building operation that might bring valuable theoretical illumination and realm of practice to both fields.

Originality/value

This editorial introduces an exploration that begins to develop any relationships that might exist between the two fields of design and cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 36 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 November 2013

David Griffiths and Ranulph Glanville

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 42 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 November 2013

David Griffiths and Ranulph Glanville

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 42 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2005

Louis H. Kauffman

Discusses the notion of eigenform as explicated by Heinz von Foerster wherein an object is seen to be a token for those behaviors that lend the object its apparent…

Abstract

Purpose

Discusses the notion of eigenform as explicated by Heinz von Foerster wherein an object is seen to be a token for those behaviors that lend the object its apparent stability in a changing world.

Design/methodology/approach

Describes von Foerster's model for eigenforms and recursions and puts this model in the context of mathematical recursions, fractals, set theory, logic, quantum mechanics, the lambda calculus of Church and Curry, and the categorical framework of fixed points of Lawvere.

Findings

Determines that iterating a transformation upon itself is seen to be a key to understanding the nature of objects and the relationship of an observer and the apparent world of the observer.

Originality/value

Contemplates the concept of recursion in the context of second‐order cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 34 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 2 February 2015

Magnus Ramage, David Chapman and Chris Bissell

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Content available
Article
Publication date: 15 March 2011

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Content available
Article
Publication date: 16 November 2018

Thomas Fischer

Ranulph Glanville has argued that ambitions of strict control are misplaced in epistemic processes such as learning and designing. Among other reasons, he has presented…

Abstract

Purpose

Ranulph Glanville has argued that ambitions of strict control are misplaced in epistemic processes such as learning and designing. Among other reasons, he has presented quantitative arguments for this ethical position. As a part of these arguments, Glanville claimed that strict control even of modest systems transcends the computational limits of our planet. The purpose of this paper is to review the related discourse and to examine the soundness of this claim.

Design/methodology/approach

Related literature is reviewed and pertinent lines of reasoning are illustrated and critically examined using examples and straightforward language.

Findings

The claim that even modest epistemic processes transcend the computational means of our planet is challenged. The recommendation to assume out-of-control postures in epistemic processes, however, is maintained on ethical rather than on quantitative grounds.

Research limitations/implications

The presented reasoning is limited in as far as it is ultimately based on an ethical standpoint.

Originality/value

This paper summarizes an important cybernetic discourse and dispels the notion therein that epistemic processes necessarily involve computational demands of astronomical proportions. Furthermore, this paper presents a rare discussion of Glanville’s Corollary of Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 48 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 18 October 2011

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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