American Society for Cybernetics

Activity Plan for 1999-2000

1. Membership


Attract the 400 or so previous members as well as new participants to join the society and pay their membership dues. Provide members with something of interest and delight. Actively encourage participation by younger people.


Recruitment letters

Letters will be sent to all active members as well as previous members. To facilitate this the business office has transferred the membership lists to a database program and consolidated updates and corrections from various sources.

An invitation to join the ASC will be sent to the members of ISSS according to interest in our orientation, activities, and manner of conduct. Other such invitational groups will be identified and acted on.

Current members will be asked to encourage participation by others and by young people; email-based forms will be prepared to facilitate this.

Membership fees and benefits

The cost of a general membership will be maintained at US$50.00 for the coming year (beginning Sept. 1) Student memberships remain at $25.00 per year.

Members will receive updates on developments on ASC activities and projects by email (not more often than monthly), invitations to conferences by mail, and the occasional publications (as described below) on a quarterly basis. Updates on ASC business and projects will be included with the monographs as appropriate. All members will have the right to contribute to monographs in the occasional publications series, and to have relevant material posted on the website (guidelines are being established). Members may choose to have their url linked to the ASC website.

Members will have the option of subscribing to two journals that have historic connections with the society. Both the Journal of Cybernetics and Systems and the Journal of Cybernetics and Human Knowing have extended a discount of 20% to ASC Members. The Journal of Cybernetics and Human Knowing has furthermore provided the ASC with 4 pages in each issue under the editorship of the ASC president. This space will initially be used as a column for members of the ASC Board of Trustees to write concerning their passion in cybernetics. Heinz von Foerster has agreed to provide the material for the first column via an interview format.


Further to the standard letter recruitment, with follow-ups to those who have not registered, we will provide email and web-based registration forms.

All members are encouraged to invite young people who may be inspired or who may inspire others to join the society. Members are also encouraged to invite friends and colleagues who might be interested in the activities of the ASC to join the society. A sample email letter of invitation and a one-page poster will be made available to anyone who wishes these.

Validating youth participation

We are in the process of establishing awards for the best paper, performance and web-site submissions from young people in several categories. We are also reviewing mechanisms for providing travel bursaries to students for participation in ASC conferences.

Time Flow:

The first recruitment letter will be sent this summer with a follow-up by the end of August. Those who have registered will receive the first monograph at that time, and those who have not will receive the table of contents. A similar pattern will continue for several cycles.


Suggestions concerning membership can be sent to Pille Bunnell (see coordinates below). Requests for additional membership forms and posters can be sent to Wafa Abou Zaki (posters available after Sept. 15).

2. Occasional Publications: ASC Monographs


To provide a "voice" for the emerging ideas within the ASC community and retain the spontaneity, variety, novelty and invention that characterizes the Society.


Steve Sloan (ombudsperson) has agreed to act as managing editor for the monograph series, with individual issues developed by guest editors. Steve will compile and produce the materials in a simple booklet format. The monographs will be printed in the ASC office in Washington, D.C. and mailed from there with the support of the business office manager, Wafa Abou Zaki.


At this time the following Monographs have been suggested:


issue editor

Doing Cybernetics and Doing the School for Designing a Society

S. Sloan

A Synopsis of the ASC Syntegration : What has Cybernetics to Contribute to the 21st. Century

K. Forsythe

Evil and Ethics: A Compilation of the first three months of an on-line discussion.

K. Forsythe

General Systems and Cybernetics: A Compilation of the Discussion on the Cybcom Listserve, April-June 1999
(this may be done only as a hypertext document on the web)

P. Bunnell

Time Flow

The first monograph will be mailed to members by the end of August, 1999, the next a month later. Thereafter the intent is to produce several monographs per year.


Suggestions for Monographs can be sent to Steve Sloan. Suggestions that include the willingness to contribute to the development of an issue are particularly welcomed.

3. Archive


To have a central secure location for ASC archival materials that is independent of current administration and maintains professional curatorial and access services.


Paul Schroeder has arranged for the University of Illinois to provide the archival services. A copy of all significant original materials, including executive matters, correspondence, conference proceedings, and publications will be maintained. An effort is underway to collect and consolidate scattered files and sources of these materials.


Submissions of historic materials, and suggestions for materials to be included should be directed to Paul Shroeder at

4. Website


Develop and maintain a website that both connects members in a meaningful way and presents the ASC to public view in a manner that reflects the uniqueness and richness of the people and ideas. This includes a review of the content and structure of both websites that support the ASC and generating a unified ASC website which may be resident on several locations.


Lee Scott, Pille Bunnell and Kathleen Forsythe met in Seattle on July 15 to establish the parameters of the upgrade process. The report on this meeting is available to ASC members on request.

Time Flow

The upgrading of the website is an ongoing process. Primary changes, especially those concerning overall structure and accuracy with respect to current circumstances, will happen in the next few months. Improvements will successively permeate all the links of the web.


We would like a volunteer to actively participate in website management, and we would like a panel of reviewers for web page content, particularly as we receive further submissions. Suggestions are also welcome. Please contact Pille Bunnell.

5. Conferences


To organize a series of ASC meetings which both provide a forum for presenting and publishing papers (conference proceedings) and a forum for playful co-inspiration.


Two conferences are currently being discussed for the near future:



The Circularity of Ethics and Environment.

Washington, D.C.
spring or fall 2000

The Laughter of Circularity and the Circularity of Laughter

Vancouver, B.C.
fall 2000 or spring 2001


Regional meetings were discussed at the last Annual General Meeting (Falls Church, March 1999), but no practical plan for implementing these has yet been formulated. Consequently they depend on local initiatives.


Suggestions for Conferences and Meetings can be sent to Kathleen Forsythe. In particular we would like to hear from anyone who is willing to make a substantive commitment to organizing a conference.

6. Connections


Make the ASC visible without compromising its uniqueness. Take advantage of the resources of larger organizations while contributing the perspective and freedom possible in a small organization. Expand the official presence of ASC members at the meeting of related groups and societies



The ASC has been a member organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for a number of years. AAAS requires two liaison persons. This year Stuart Umpleby is acting as liaison for Social, Economical and Political Sciences and Lou Kauffman is acting as liaison for Information, Computing and Communication.

ISSS : Asilomar - June, 1999

Several members of the ASC including the president, the vice president, as well as two past presidents, participated in and delivered papers at the recent meeting of the International Society for Systems Science. Our presence was well received and our intellectual contributions significantly affected the tone of the congress. Over 300 people attended from all over the world and a number indicated interest in the ASC.

ISSS: World Congress of the Systems Sciences - Toronto, June 2000

The ASC has been asked to be a co-sponsor of the ISSS conference in Toronto in June 2000. (A letter of invitation is being sent to all ASC members) The following is the tentative outline the ASC contribution:

1) Humberto Maturana as plenary, speaking about "Conservation and Change".

2) Panel discussion on "Conservation and Change; a Circularity in Ethics and Environment"

3) An evening event "Conservation and Change; Enactments of Ethics and Environment" to be presented by the School for Designing a Society.

7. Projects


Provide a context for realizing projects of interest to the ASC.
Use the charitable status of the organization to seek support for such projects.


Heinz Von Foerster video

We will be making a video recording of a conversation between Heinz Von Foerster and Humberto Maturana as a joint venture with the not for profit educational organization, Change Management Systems operated by ASC member Barbara Vogl . The raw footage will be archived, and each of the two organizations will produce a final broadcast quality edit suitable to their purposes. ASC will retain review rights of any materials produced by CMS and will receive a proportion of any revenues generated, to be applied to a Heinz von Foerster award for young people.

This project had its genesis in the successful Philadelphia ASC conference, and is being materialized on short notice as the frail health of Heinz von Foerster calls for immediacy in the making of this important record. The recordings will be made as health permits over a three day period in late July, 1999. Contact Pille Bunnell for details.

Review of funding possibilities

Kathleen Forsythe has taken on the task of reviewing funding sources such as foundations and agencies to determine which are appropriate for various ASC projects or activities.


Suggestions for projects may be made to the ASC executive. Proposals should include a general implementation plan, including key people and financing strategy. Suggestions for Fund Raising can be sent to Kathleen Forsythe.