Valerie and Aunt Hillary

Randomly searching for interesting blogs I came across the Virtual Philosophy Club and Ira Glicksteins’s interesting post on The Gaia Hypothesis – Three levels of hypothesis.

What I like most about this post is his use of the terms ‘Aunt Hillary’ for the communal interaction and emergent behaviour of an ant hill and similarly ‘Valerie’ for that of an entire valley.

Having also watched both of his presentations which work through the same material as the blog post I was also intrigued by the concept of sentience which is defined on wikipedia as “the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences …a minimalistic way of defining ‘consciousness’ ” which made me think about the paralells in human communities:

When an organisation/community becomes ‘poorly’ it is often a symptom of not knowing what the staff are thinking, not understanding the behaviours of its customers or ignoring the needs of its members. This is in effect a reduction of sentience. Using a Sensemaker/narrative approach provides the ‘system’ with a first wash of material to make sense of. Facilitating the self realisation of this material allows ‘sentience’ to emerge in a form appropriate to that ‘system’.

The strength/benefits of this approach is therefore not just the sense making but the ability to react to the sense being made and create feedback loops both encouraging and dampening for the long term survival of the ‘system’.

Now I am not proposing we then call the community Aunt Hillary as Ira does but it is an appealing thought that we may have reawakened or perhaps re-balanced its knowledge ecology.

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