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Treasures of Second Order Cybernetics

An introductory three day workshop

May 23-25, 2001, Vancouver, Canada


What does the community of second order cyberneticians consider as its most valuable treasures? What concepts, observations, insights, experiments, etc. do they use to distinguish what second order cybernetics is? And how do they sustain the community's ongoing conversations?

In this three day workshop we will collectively explore what some of these treasures might be by examining the work of four members of the community - Heinz von Foerster, George Spencer Brown, Gordon Pask and Humberto Maturana. Through readings, evocative presentations, playful activities, group discussion, and individual reflection we will examine the practical consequences of a cybernetics of cybernetics, the liberating no(ta)tions of indication and self reference, and the seminal ideas of conversation theory, autopoiesis and structural coupling.

This workshop is intended for people new to cybernetics as well as those who are experienced and are willing to contribute their understanding. It will provide the curious with a gentle introduction to second order cybernetics and to the issues and concerns to be raised in the Remaining Human Forum and the American Society for Cybernetics Conference which will follow the workshop. No technical or philosophical background is required - only a willingness to read several papers before arriving and to participate fully in transforming our experience of our world and ourselves.

The cost of the workshop is CD$150 (US $100). This includes all course materials, three days and two evenings in session, and two lunches. Accommodation is available at the University of British Columbia Conference Center for as low as CD$35 (~US$23)for private room and shared bath (see attached reservation form). We are making every effort to provide scholarships to allow all those interested to attend. Please inquire from ASC Conference coordinator, Pille Bunnell.

This workshop is presented by Dr. Scott Carley, in collaboration with several other members of the A.S.C. Scott is an environmental educator, systems ecologist and knowledge architect with strong interests in collaborative learning and research and in the application of non-equilibrium thermodynamics to ecology, economics and social/cultural dynamics.

Enrollment is limited to 30 individuals. Early registration is recommended. An electronic registration package will be posted on this site, or request forms.