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Into Complexity

A Pattern-oriented Approach to Stakeholder Communications

by Cornelis Pieters

Paperback e-Book PDF
Institution: University for Humanistics
Advisor(s): Prof. Dr. H.P. Kunneman, Prof. Dr. F.P. Cilliers
Degree: Ph.D. in Complexity Studies
Year: 2010
Volume: 511 pages
ISBN-10: 1599423057
ISBN-13: 9781599423050


The NWO-programme "the societal aspects of genomics", has called for stronger means of collaboration and deliberative involvement between the various stakeholders of genomics research. Within the project group assembled at the UH, this call was translated to the 'lingua democratica', in which the prerequisites of such deliberative efforts were put to scrutiny.

The contribution of this thesis has taken a more or less abstract angle to this task, and sought to develop a vocabulary that can be shared amongst various stakeholders with different backgrounds, interests and stakes for any complex theme, although genomics has more or less been in focus throughout the research. As 'complexity thinking' is currently a theme in both the 'hard' sciences as the social sciences and the humanities, and has always been an issue for professionals, this concept was pivotal in achieving such an inclusive angle. However, in order to prevent that complexity would become fragmented due to disciplinary boundaries, it is essential that those aspects of complexity that seem to return in many discussions would be made clear, and stand out with respect to the complexities of specialisation. The thesis has argued that the concept of 'patterns' applies for these aspects, and they form the backbone of the vocabulary that has been developed. Especially patterns of feedback have been given much attention, as this concept is pivotal for many complex themes.

However, although patterns are implicitly or explicitly used in many areas, there is little methodological (and philosophical) underpinning of what they are and why they are able to do what they do. As a result, quite some attention has been given to these issues, and how they relate to concepts such as 'information', 'order' and complexity itself.

From these explorations, the actual vocabulary was developed, including the methodological means to use this vocabulary. This has taken the shape of a recursive development of a so-called pattern-library, which has crossed disciplinary boundaries, from technological areas, through biology, psychology and the social sciences, to a topic that is typical of the humanities. This journey across the divide of C.P. Snow’s 'two cultures' is both a test for a lingua democratica, as well as aimed to demonstrate how delicate, and balanced such a path must be in order to be effective, especially if one aims to retain certain coherence along the way.

Finally, the methodology has been applied in a very practical way, to a current development that hinges strongly on research in genomics, which is trans-humanist movement.

About The Author

Kees Pieters has a background in electrotechnics and computer science, and has well over fifteen years of professional experience in those areas. Currently he tries to alternately pursue his research projects and practical programming assignments. His research interests include complexity thinking, evolutionary computation and technology. More specifically he focuses on the origins of co-operation and its implementation, such as the open-source movement.