The metaphor of chaos

I love it when serendipity gives you a new lens to observe a current event in the news:

Last week on my travels I was reading a research paper on ’ The Metaphor of  ‘Chaos’ by Wlodzimierz Klonowski from: Systems Biology: Principles, Methods, and Concepts 2006

Klonowski suggests that systems on the edge of chaos can be termed “informative”.

Here parts are rigid not loose and therefore: – stable enough to keep information – but unstable enough to dissipate it.

So any system at the edge both stores and broadcasts and in this kind of system information can propagate over long distances without decaying appreciably.

Thus allowing long range correlation in behaviour

He then suggests that:

ordered configurations do not allow information to propagate at all.

Disordered configurations cause information to quickly decay into random noise.

Now I realise the dangers of moving theories/observations from the domains in which they originate but that’s how innovation occurs: Klonowski’s paper is primarily directed at ecosystems but substitute knowledge for information and you start to make sense of human interaction in systems such as long surviving teams or organisations which are so stable that knowledge sharing never enters their mind.

Now, take a look at the current uprising of anger against university fees in the UK.  Students in general seemed to be in a pretty stable state as far as I could ascertain from my kids experiences at University. No real identity as a community and varied and diverse in their interests. Bring on the UK Govt proposed increase of student fees and whoosh, the system is pushed almost to the edge, everyone is buzzing, new technologies such as twitter and facebook are enabling rapid long distant information sharing. The whole system is animated, coordinated, and behaviour is changing right across the country. Non-students are jealously associating themselves with this new common ‘enemy’, a truly irreversible revolution in the making.

So the implications seem to be that a system pushed to the edge not only livens it up and brings out new ideas so that it becomes ‘healthier’ but that it becomes better able (more likely) to share knowledge.

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