Since the dawn of recorded history, humanity has been turning to the visual realm as a sensemaking tool for the world and our place in it, mapping and visualizing everything from the body to the brain to the universe toinformation itself. Trees of Life: A Visual History of Evolution (public library) catalogs 230 tree-like branching diagrams, culled from 450 years of mankind’s visual curiosity about the living world and our quest to understand the complex ecosystem we share with other organisms, from bacteria to birds, microbes to mammals.
Interesting links with complexity thinking. Also check the link below for more on knowledge networks and connectivity.
In complex social systems such as those of many mammals, including humans, groups (and hence ego-centric social networks) are commonly structured in discrete layers. We describe a computational model for the development of social relationships based on agents' strategies for social interaction that favour more less-intense, or fewer more-intense partners. A trust-related process controls the formation and decay of relationships as a function of interaction frequency, the history of interaction, and the agents' strategies. A good fit of the observed layers of human social networks was found across a range of model parameter settings. Social interaction strategies which favour interacting with existing strong ties or a time-variant strategy produced more observation-conformant results than strategies favouring more weak relationships. Strong-tie strategies spread in populations under a range of fitness conditions favouring wellbeing, whereas weak-tie strategies spread when fitness favours foraging for food. The implications for modelling the emergence of social relationships in complex structured social networks are discussed.
Two books by Nicholas Humphrey, a prominent figure in research on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness
- Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness (Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative; 2009) http://amzn.com/0674030540 + For a review check http://gu.com/p/2m6yk or http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hbr/issues/7.3spring06/articles/seeingred.shtml
- Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness (2011) http://amzn.com/0691138621 for a review check http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/books/review/book-review-soul-dust-the-magic-of-consciousness-by-nicholas-humphrey.html ;
Hard problems of consiousness @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Problem_of_Consciousness ;
Experiment hints at underlying neurochemistry of uncertainty. The experiment was done with rats and is promising because it sheds more (positive) light on the complexity involved in creating uncertainty through philosophy in the classroom.
From the article:
Since the underlying change in confidence was the only thing that changed abruptly at such a moment in their experiment, a simultaneous abrupt change in activity in the brain could -be attributed to the rat’s decision to abandon its old belief. And that’s exactly what the researchers observed. When the rats seemed certain which handle they should pull, activity in the medial prefrontal cortex was relatively stable. But during the crucial moment of the onset of uncertainty, when the rat reverted to pulling both handles, “the activity abruptly and markedly changed and then remained more variable for the duration of the period when the animal sampled both options,” Karpova says. “It’s as if those neurons were the ones searching for the animal’s new model.”
In this eleven-week course you'll learn about the tools used by scientists to understand complex systems. The topics you'll learn about include dynamics, chaos, fractals, information theory, self-organization, agent-based modeling, and networks. You’ll also get a sense of how these topics fit together to help explain how complexity arises and evolves in nature, society, and technology.
(May 21, 2010) Professor Robert Sapolsky gives a lecture on emergence and complexity. He details how a small difference at one place in nature can have a huge effect on a system as time goes on. He calls this idea fractal magnification and applies it to many different systems that exist throughout nature.
The ‘systems approach’ to education views the education sector as a ‘system’, which is a connected set of components that moves along in an interactive and interdependent manner to achieve certain results. In other words, as a system, education is part of a wider environment, and in turn is comprised of a myriad of subsystems. Policy interventions at one end of the system can fail if made in isolation and without consideration of other parts of the system.
The application of the systems approach to education is not new. In fact, in its 1979 report(*), UNESCO states that “concurrent changes in the social milieu in which education systems are embedded, have led to the emergence of complex problems” (p. 11) which require a more systemic approach to resolve.
Simply wonderful: MoMA’s ambitious survey of 20th century design for children is the first large-scale overview of the modernist preoccupation with children and childhood as a paradigm for progressive design thinking.
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