Two kinds of CAS: how did I miss this insight?

Whenever I have spoken of ‘complex adaptive system’, CAS, in the past, never had I ever articulated this distinction:

This is the conceptually unified and richly transdisciplinary foundation for the new economic paradigm that we describe in part II of our article[i]. We make a crucial distinction between two meanings of the key term “complex adaptive system”: The first meaning is a complex system that is adaptive as a system(CAS1). The second meaning is a complex system composed of agents following their respective adaptive strategies (CAS2). The key insight of MLS theory is that CAS2 systems do not robustly self-organize into CAS1 systems. Special conditions are required: namely, the whole system must be the unit of selection. Otherwise, lower-level selection forces take over, in the same way that cancers destroy the functional organization of multicellular organisms.

Wow, thinking back, I understood this, but only tacitly. The context of my peregrinations had to serve to indicate whether I was wibbling on CAS2 or CAS1.

PPS: POSSIBLE PRAXIS INSIGHT… What is the unit/chunk/module/holon/VS(or nonVS) that is being selected? Are you sure?

These evonomicks chaps are onto something…

Fix the Konnections, don’t try to fix the Nodes!—an insight from NK network theory

for Ben Taylor and Rory Heap. Rory, it’s a completely inaccessible photo of an article about women in the workplace and confidence and be the best you you can never be you go girl etceteraah…

Let’s see if Bill Gateses’s MagicEye can read that ..

He’s losing control.

Mainly Hes, and increasing numbers of Shes.


The ancients believed that they had angered the gods when there was a natural disaster.

Managers believe that they have angered the shareholders when things outside of their control occur. They call them ‘failure’ and search for a chain of causation, a process that is essentially entrail reading.

Fantasies of control.

Consequences of fantasies.

Watch “Why You Need A Good Internal BS Meter” on YouTube

Rick Beato is a musician and educator.

This is the best statement on the need for Bullshit Detector since Postman and Weingartner wrote Teaching As A Subversive Activity, the whole text of which is around on the web, and is a must read.

BTW, I hate videos. Just give me the feckin’ words and the odd diagram. But there’s always an exception to every rule.

How the states have become “Laboratories of Autocracy” — and why it’s worse than you think |

Coming to the UK as soon as the Electoral Reform Act is passed next week while you’re all whining and laughing abot BYOB Spaffel…

Former Ohio Democratic Party head David Pepper has a dire warning: Rigged state legislatures are destroying America
— Read on–and-why-its-worse-than-you-think/

Are you making me do emotional labour outside my boundaries, or am I using psychopiffle to evade? You decide…

i think what is like to say about this is:


you need to understand the original meaning of the term in its original context, not just the way it’s now used in everyday conversation.


you know when you are protecting yourself, or when you are just bunking off from dealing with something that actually is your concern. So be honest with yourself.

read on…

Where is the edge? There is only one way to find it: you have to go a tiny bit too far…

Beautiful wise observation…

As the girl receded farther along the walkway, I wondered how far she would go. As a boy, we often roamed just beyond the limits that our parents had imposed. When I was this girl’s age, we were expected to stay on our street, but often stepped just beyond that limit, hearts pounding. That’s where the adventure was and it called us despite our parents’ admonitions. For instance, there was a new house being constructed one street over. How could we resist the lure of a partially constructed house? Today, it would be called an “attractive nuisance,” but as a kid, these unfenced sites were impromptu playgrounds. The best places always seemed to be just beyond the limits.

There is a point where the greenbelt walkway turns. Would the girl take the corner? If she did, she would have been out of sight. When she got to there, however, she stopped, waited for the dog to relieve itself, then started heading back. It was at this moment that her father emerged. He stepped cautiously from the door, craning to look along the walkway, peering toward his daughter. Then suddenly he hopped back out of sight, obviously not wanting her to see him.

Now click the link to understand what’s going on here…

TOXIC OPTICS: the management of appearance and the appearance of management

blying blliars blying

“But there is a kicker to the story, and in it we see how the cynicism of self-preservation prevailed at the expense of doing something long-term and substantive about race relations. Shortly before Macpherson published his report, Straw proposed a follow-up – an ambitious strategy that would prioritise race equality considerations in policymaking across government bodies. Yet taking on racial justice in such a direct manner was just too risky, too destabilising to the government. “A regulation nightmare,” said Blair. Angus Lapsley, an official in Blair’s private office, decided not to back a proposal that racist police officers should be dismissed (government was “cool” towards this suggestion, he said), not because the policy would be wrong, but because of how rightwing papers would react to it. Here is where the decibel level rises. “This could easily become a ‘Telegraph cause celebre’ if taken too far,” said Lapsley. Blair agreed, saying: “We do not want to go OTT on this.” The proposal was killed. There is a sort of sickening relief in seeing those sentiments – expressed behind closed doors – spelled out so matter of factly; in knowing for certain that concerns about racial injustice aren’t taken seriously not because they’re not believed but because they rock the boat. Indeed, the smothering of a broad, progressive race policy 20 years ago tells us much about where we are today, with a government proudly hostile to interrogating the true state of race relations”

Why Bosses Are Inflexible About Flexible Work Arrangements | WIRED

Good article.

Especially relevant to Ben Taylor’s recent piece here…

Jah das ist güt and other Germanic clichés… Learning the ropes: why Germany is building risk into its playgrounds | Germany | The Guardian

Lofty climbing towers are part of trend away from total safety and towards teaching children to navigate difficult situations
— Read on

Blah blah blah.

An item about play that doesn’t mention Playwork? Why not? Because Playwork is dead. But, huzzah! It doesn’t mention Tim Gill either! Yay! Unfortunately, it didn’t mention Rob Wheway of the CPAS, or, ho ho ho, PlayEngland, PlayScotchland, PlayboredNI, or PllayWhails! Nor did it mention our glorious leader, Sir Adrian of Voce!

Nor Arthur Battram, Wendy Russell, the deceased Stuart Lester, Gordon Sturrock or Perry Else. It completely overlooked Sir Bib Hughes, aka Saint Bob, who invented play in 1902.

Not Lady Allen of Hurtknee, nor her protégé, Lady Penelope of Wilson.

I could go on. I usually do.

But seriously though, the article reads like a clever pressrelease and wudav bean put together by an interner or offspring of Grauniad journo, probably editor Kath Viber’s daughter on the occasion of Take Your Daughter To The Slaughter Day, when posho media ponces are encouraged to give their vile privately educated weasels a day in the office so they can learn the ways of Waitrose, my child.

But I digress.

Matryoska CAS… systems within systems, plans within plans, complex adaptive systems within complex adaptive systems. Not bragging but I foresaw this in 1997.

I’m too old and tired to write my explanation here, sorry. You could start by reading or rereading my book Navigating Complexity.

Here’s the gist: autopoietic systems feedback and amplify. As a system gets bigger it reaches a bifurcation point. Eventually like, say Microsoft v. Apple v Novell v Linux you get a shakeout… one biggy, one ten percenter and minnows. Read Brian Arthur. Read up on N-K networks. Yada yada. Now imagine that at every level. Stafford Beer on acid.

Facebook, the reviled financial corporate entity currently being set up as the proxy fallguy for January 6th (or do I mean 1/6, you know, like 9/11), contains at least 3 nested overlapping CAS. Facebook users are tiny agents in a seethe of nested venned CASes, like 514000 species of bacteria in a mouth ulcer exchanging DNA like pokemon cards in a schoolyard or bodily fluids in an orgy. Try blaming a single, singular lone gunman bacterium that started it all, for any value of ‘it’. Guffaws.

I’d love government to regulate social media. But first you people need to have some glimmer of understanding of what the fuck these ‘internet’ ‘social’, ‘media’ actually are. I can’t tell you, I don’t have answers but I do have way way better questions than you clowns. You need to navigate complexity.

Right now you are up shitcreek without a paddle. You can paddle with your hands, ugh, but you’ll get nowhere without a map and a compass. You need to understand complexity. You have by now understood that you can’t manage it, now you need to learn to navigate it. Damn shame my book is out of print.

Politics: the scum on the waters of change

Thoreau on the Long Cycles of Social Change and the Importance of Not Mistaking Politics for Progress

“One of Thoreau’s most countercultural yet incisive points is that true social reform has little to do with politics, for genuine cultural change operates on cycles far longer and more invisible than the perpetual churning of immediacies with which the political state and the political conscience are occupied. Rather than dueling with petty surface facts, as politics is apt to, the true revolutionary and reformer dwells in humanity’s largest truths, aiming to transfigure the deepest strata of reality.”

Message found in a bottle of snake oil, in the Sargasso sea…

A friend of mine said, in a lovely,erudite presentation to some very smart folk:

“a weakness of my current thinking is a lack of explicitly encompassing the group, the social.”

Totally agree, we all lack this.

Re-examine page 49 of ‘Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’, written by myself.

Then think about that botanical nostrum – Early Years textbooks teach that there are three kinds of play in young humans and many mammals: 

  • individual play
  • parallel play
  • social play

Know that this is botany – classifying plants by the shape of their leaves. We observe the spots of a leopard, but what is the mechanism that creates them?

What are the primitives, the atomic irreducible processes that underly the phenomena?

We do not have a language to describe phenomena in groups. I  suspect they are incommensurable, like weather prediction after Lorenz.

We do not have a language to describe phenomena in groups.

This has hamstrung playwork, education, professional football, orchestral performance, NASA budgetary oversight inquiries, Air Accident Investigation, Corporate Fraud Investigation, etcetera etcetera.

There are clues in the Miles Davis approach to group play.

There are clues in Taoism, and Zen.

But as Sapir, Whof and Wittgenstein, and probably Gibson (JJ not W) would tell you, language shapes thought and we do not have the language. 

Try explaining how to put oil into a car without using any car-related, or engine-related words. Go on, try it. Write it down, now go through it and strike out any car-related and engine-related words that crept in. We don’t have a big enough RAM, our short-term memory, to hold even one sentence of the resulting tedious arm-waving stuttering verbiage.

Why doesn’t the world move when I shake my head?


M’learned friend also said:

“This has many implications, but that main one is that we should judge education by the value created for stakeholders (laudate Tom) – this is fittingly complex and circular. 


Very pleased that you rate teecha Tom.

Not stakeholders, feck stakeholders. Leave that to the Tory Goovey Gradgrindians.

I  think you might mean participants? If so then I‘ll semi-agree.

How would you judge a Beth Chatto garden? Answer that and you’ll know how to judge education .


Read Seedstock by Frank Herbert… full text here…

I  cannot link to that story without rereading it, and when I  reread it, I  cannot help but be moved to tears.


Koan for you: “how can we value things without judging them?” asked the abbot.

Answers on a postcard to my fastness by Ruabon mountain, please, or via ‘e-mail’.