The Paradigm Strategy poster

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The Paradigm Strategy poster is an at-a-glance introduction to knowledge federation, and a conversation starter.

To see the poster clearly and to experiment with it, you will need to download this more detailed version.

Contents

A different way to communicate

It seems best to begin by considering the way "the best insights of our best minds" are habitually handled: By being rendered in the context and the jargon of a traditional academic discipline (for examle sociology), they are made inaccessible to most people; and by being rendered as contradicting points of view (for example when the views regarding what drives the evolution of society are divided into "technological determinism", "social determinism" etc.), they are made practically useless (as ways to illicit action) even for a specialist. One might argue that a confrontation of opinions is a suitable way to develop a body of knowledge in a discipline. But one might also observe such confrontation is not a way to make knowledge used, and useful.

The knowledge federation approach, as illustrated by The Paradigm Strategy poster, is complementary; or more simply – opposite!

By rendering the most relevant or transformative insights as vignettes (crisp and 'sticky' stories, where the original experience, what really motivated a brilliant person to create a whole theory, is made palpable and clear), we take them out of their disciplinary wrappings. By stringing the vignettes – from across disciplines and domains of interest – together into threads (where they enhance one another and together produce a dramatic effect), the insights they carry are further accentuated and enhanced. And finally by weaving the threads into patterns and further into gestalts, the key message that those insights may carry or compose together becomes a basis for a worldview change, and for action.

There is no reality claim or coercion to a worldview in Knowledge Federation. By calling our approach or method polyscopy we signal that different ways of looking at any given theme are possible; and that our statements need to be understood as a way of saying "it is also possible, and useful, to see this theme in this way..."

Finally, and most importantly, our statements are never final. They are an invitation to a dialog – and the meaning creation happens as it should, through a co-creative dialog.

A communication that can make a difference

What exactly is communicated by those vignettes, threads and gestalts?

You will see – at a glance, from the visual outline of the poster – that they lead to a pivotal point or The Key Point, which provides a novel view of the situation and leads to a new field of action or frontier, represented on the right-hand side of the poster.

How exactly the vignettes and the threads are interpreted, what conversations will emerge around them, that of course depends on the people in the audience – who should more appropriately be called and considered "conversation partners". It is entirely up to them to discover, through conversation, the meaning of what's presented – which may or may not coincide with the meaning we are attributing to it. Everything here has both general-and-basic and also subtle messages, which may surprise and engage even a well-informed audience such as the one at hand. Let us illustrate.

  • The first, Wiener-Jantsch-Reagan thread shows that even the core insights that emerged in systems research, which were present from the systems movement's very inception – and which are necessary to handling the contemporary issues – have not yet been communicated to the public, and integrated into our 'public sphere'. Indeed we tend to base our political preferences and our approaches to "global problems" on assumptions that are contradictory to those insights. This thread then points to a larger insight called "Wiener's paradox", which is relevant not only to the academic event at hand, but to all academic business as usual – namely that conventional communication may not have any real effect whatsoever, because (as Wiener argued already in his 1948 Cybernetics) our society's communication is dysfunctional or 'broken'.
  • The second, Chomsky-Harari-Graeber thread points to a deeper or underlying reason for the inadequacy of our communication: Our language and other communication tools have not evolved as communication tools at all, but as instruments of our socialization, through worldview or story sharing. While this way of evolving has enabled our species to become dominant on the planet, this came at a price: The institutions or more generally societal structures that have emerged in this way – those gigantic socio-technical 'machines' that take our daily work and are relied on oo turn it into socially useful effects – could be arbitrarily dysfunctional or even harmful, without us noticing that! Here already we have a hint why a new approach to knowledge may lead to a new phase of Industrial Revolution– style change...
  • The Nietzsche-Ehrlich-Giddens thread points to another reason why our communication might be dysfunctional: We may be coping with the overload of impressions we are exposed to, and the complexity of the world we've created, by simply learning a role and performing in it! We are already beginning to discern a larger insight, that we may be evolving or rather devolving as the homo ludens, man the (game) player, and as the homo sapiens, man the knower, which we believed was what distinguished us. This also points further why our institutions or systems may be misconstructed and dysfunctional without us noticing that – they are in the 'shadow' of our successes...
  • The Odin-Bourdieu-Damasio thread points to a still deeper and arguably a deepest issue in our social psychology – namely that those "games" we play may have no better reason or gain than to serve as turf battles – in which we engage unwittingly, and which end up controlling not only our action, but also our awareness.

Since our poster is tailored to quick digestion from which a spirited conversation can follow, and situated in the setting of an academic conference – it is focused predominantly on communication. Had we had a bit more time, we would have offered the power structure pattern instead of Wiener's paradox. An interested reader is certainly encouraged to pursue that line. The power structure shows a view according to which we've been devolving socially or systemically, it shows how our systems may have grown in the manner in which the cancer grows. The power structure as pattern is conceived as a redefinition and re-conception of the traditional notions of 'political enemy' and 'power holder' – where we too are part of 'the enemy'. While the Wiener's paradox is certainly sufficient to bring us into a relevant and spirited conversation about the academic system and the need for systemic innovation in that system, the power structure pattern might be necessary if we should truly and deeply see The Key Point – why a paradigmatic change, in the very manner of our evolution, has become mandatory.

A different way to see

We have used a variety of metaphors to talk about The Key Point and more generally the gestalt and still more generally the high-level views, whose creation and use Knowledge Federation, and polyscopy, enable, by embedding them institutionally and academically. One of them was to talk about "the mountain-top view" and the process we've just described as a collective climb to a metaphorical "mountain top", from which a community of people can raise above "the information jungle" and see "the direction that needs to be followed".

On the poster, The Key Point is represented as a point, and as a wormhole or entry point into another reality.

Our scheme begins to truly work when we begin to perceive our own time and condition as we now tend to see the world and the mindset of the Middle Ages. The poster is just a hint, an "at-a-glance" glimpse of this insight. The way to it will be offered by the Holoscope prototype, as described below. Let us hold back and not be specific here – it is best to allow a specific view of The Key Point emerge in a new way in each conversation. We'll make those conversations and views available, so that later conversation may (to a degree that may be desired) build on the older ones.

We have been using a variety of keywords and metaphors to point to The Key Point. A good example is "the magical Mirror" – where, having seen ourselves as in the world, we've understood that we are not the "objective observers" but creators of reality, and responsible for it. We then become empowered to (metaphorically) go "through the Mirror, whereupon we find ourselves in a magnificent and liberatingly creative new reality (see the blog post Through the Mirror).

Even if the message of the Mirror may appear to us as most transparent, and the world on the other side as most attractive, it is advisable to not go through the Mirror right away but tarry a bit. There are insights to be absorbed. So it may be best to take a moment and look at ourselves in the Mirror; see just how much we have been socialized to fit the world that is on this side, on the 'problem' side. Even if we may be in our minds all ready to join and build the new world, our 'embodied' values may still incline us to turn the new space into a turf, behave in Odin the Horse style... To truly enter the new reality an exercise of 'liberation' is mandatory (see the note about the Liberation prototype below). The body needs to be trained to obey the 'new' or 'systemic' or 'higher' or transcendent values, if it should be liberated from its subservience to the narrow egotistical drives. And that can only be done by practicing or serving those new values.

It is this combination of seeing and doing, of understanding ourselves and our condition and liberating ourselves from this condition through genuine practice, that can make us truly be part of the new world, truly help its emergence.

A different approach to problems

We do not, strictly speaking, approach the problems at all. We see them, but we don't dwell on them. Or perhaps better said – we focus on entirely different kinds of problems. They become our preoccupation.

This way of (not) handling problems can easily be understood if we for a moment reflect on the last time a large societal paradigm shift was about to happened, at the twilight of the Middle Ages. The problems of the day – both those practical ones such as the religious wars and the ravaging plague, and the theoretical ones such as "how many angels can dance on a tip of a needle" – were not resolved by focusing on them, but by evolving further through the empowerment of reason and creativity, which spontaneously resolved some of the problems (notably those practical ones) or made them irrelevant (the intellectual ones).

On the other side of The Key Point or the metaphorical Mirror we once again have utter simplicity – as our action, and evolution, becomes directed by some simple insights and principles which we know (because we've been on 'the mountain top') are guiding us in the right direction.

Two such design patterns are offered at the right-hand side of the poster – systemic innovation and guided evolution of society. And even those two are really just two sides of a single coin.

Both can easily be understood if we consider the power structure as the current 'cancerous' evolution or growth of our systems. A social organism that has that sort of cancer surely cannot be healthy, or 'sustainable'! So systemic innovation alias guided evolution of society are offered as the real or curative remedy (not a symptomatic or palliative one).

In our abstract The Paradigm Strategy, we pointed to systemic innovation and guided evolution of society, and knowledge federation and polyscopy, as a way to make the kind of difference that is illustrated by the comparison of people carrying buckets of water from their own basements, with everyone teaming up and regulating the flow of the river that is causing the flooding. This metaphor may merit a moment of contemplation: Carrying buckets of water out of our basements may seem to be "our urgent interest", and we may also be vitally interested in the best available water pumps etc. And yet the real solutions might be entirely different, and on an a much higher level of generality. The Paradigm Strategy is offered as that kind of solution. Knowledge federation and polyscopy are offered as an approach to knowledge that can help us see and practice The Paradigm Strategy, and more generally solutions that are of that kind. They are offered as a way to provide evolutionary guidance.

Entirely different solutions

From those two design patterns the threads are guiding us to a selection of five prototypes, which are offered as solutions to perceived systemic problems – and most importantly, as ways to realize the corresponding large opportunities, which are reached through systemic innovation.

Knowledge Federation emerges as a natural response to the insights that have been reached. Of course we need to first of all rebuild our communication. And to do that, we first need to build a systemic tool that can do that, which is a new kind of institution. That's what Knowledge Federation is about.

Similarly The Lighthouse is a systemic solution for deciding on, and bringing to public attention, a single insight – can we trust "social Darwinism" (or "the market" or "free competition") to bring us the best social-systemic reality (as our politicians tend to claim, and our business people seem to believe)? Or do we need to rely on conscious or guided evolution – as Norbert Wiener claimed, as well as Bela Banathy and Mikhalyi C. And so many other scientists? At the same time, The Lighthouse will serve as a showcase of a communication infrastructure that can make a centrally important field of knowledge (the systems sciences) incomparably more impactful. In that context, The Lighthouse is conceived as a way to offer a "guiding light" to "stray ships" (attempts to make the world work), guiding them deftly to the safety of an informed or systemic approach. It is in other words what is needed to make all those precious systemic insights that have been reached through the history of the systems movement practically relevant, and used.

On the bottom, the other extreme point, we find Polyscopic Modeling methodology as an application of systemic innovation to knowledge work at large. What should our work with information be like to serve this key new purpose it now needs to fulfil for us, to guide us in our daily lives, and orient our evolution? The Polyscopic Modeling methodology builds on the scientific method, but generalizes it and tailors it to this centrally important purpose. Furthermore this methodological approach to knowledge makes our creation of truth and meaning an explicit part of our social contract – which is by now understood as a necessary next step in the evolution of democracy (in the view of the power structure.

The Liberation is a book prototype and a spectacular strategic move. Its goal is to redefine and rediscover religion as source of evolutionary guidance par excellence. Needless to say, the reconstructed religion ends up being entirely something else than the traditional religions, which may have served the traditional evolution of society, but which also got us into so much trouble.

Finally the Holoscope prototype offers a way for a community to create an entire view of "an impending Renaissance-like change". This poster is a quick illustration and a conversation starter. The Holoscope will be the real thing.

A different way to create communication

You should not think "aha, now I know how knowledge federation works – you create vignetts, and string them into threads and...", because that would miss our main point entirely.

What you are witnessing is only an example. Our intention is to illustrate the genesis of whole new communication genres, to complement the conventional ones such as academic or newspaper article, letters and poems. We are presenting only one out of a myriad possibilities. And also – as a research prototype – our solution is perhaps the simplest in a broad spectrum of possibilities that can be realised by using contemporary media technology.

It is to develop this praxis of knowledge federation that Knowledge Federation has been created.

A different way to engage 'the audience'

Finally and most importantly – notice that the final purpose of our poster is not to inform, but to empower and engage. The participants are invited to first see The Key Point or the Mirror, and then to "go through it" and enter another reality through action.

The simple action that is asked is to provide feedback on the poster and the ideas and prototypes it is showcasing.

But by engaging in this way, the participants become active creators of the other reality that the poster represents. They become participants in the co-creation of The Paradigm Strategy poster and the other illustrated prototypes – which, by virtue of their participation, become living and evolving prototypes as intended.

By engaging with the poster, the participants have already joined the new paradigm. In the midst of an academic conference, a Mirror and a trapdoor to another reality has been created!

An experiment

Everything we do is an (attempted) intervention into a system. We are inviting the people to simply begin to communicate and collaborate in a different way.

As a rule, our experiments fail to produce the intended effect. .

They however produce something else – fascinating, awe-inspiring, beyond belief... evidence just how much even the best of us, even the systems scientists and systemic designers... resist seeing and changing our own system (see My Don Quixote stunt).

We indeed are on this side of The Key Point and the Mirror, we haven't gotten through yet!

See also

  • "The motivation is to allow for the kind of difference that is suggested by the comparison of everyone carrying buckets of water from their own basements, with everyone teaming up and building a dam to regulate the ow of the river that is causing the ooding. We offer to the SDR community what we are calling The Paradigm Strategy as a way to make a similar difference in impact, with respect to the common efforts focusing

on specific problems or issues." The explanation is provided in our abstract The Paradigm Strategy, which we contributed recently to Research in Systemic Design 06 Conference in Oslo, and Enabling Social-Systemic Evolution with Polyscopy article, contributed last year to RSD5 in Toronto.

  • Tesla and the Nature of Creativity 2015 prototype has been created for a similar purpose – to illustrate how a specific result of a scientist can be federated (see the blog post A Collective Mind – Part One). Especially significant here was the act of turning an incomprehensible academic article into an accessible multimedia object – so don't miss this opportunity to download it and experiment with it!
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