What's Going On

Jay Cross, Internet Time, Mar 23, 2004
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I was going to link to the Strategy+Business item on Power Laws and complexity, but they wanted me to fill out a form demanding to know everything but blood type (which they probably have on file from Microsoft), so I decided to link to Jay Cross's discussion instead, which requires no registration and is probably more accurate. Anyhow, Jay gave me some lemons when he came to visit the other day. "Why has complexity become my recurring obsession? Perhaps because complexity challenges the bedrock of Isaac Newton, rationality, cause and effect, an ordered universe, and faith in logic. The worldview I believed in for the first fifty years of my life does not explain the world I live in today. Some things will never be figured out. Prayer does not assure salvation. Anything could happen. The world defies logic." Now it's not as madcap as all that, and Cross knows this. I remember when Francisco Varela demonstrated to us a screen of static, pure and utter chaos, and said, there's order here. Complexity doesn't defy order, or get in the way of order. But it doesn't contain order: the order comes only from the context, from having a point of view. Ride the wave, man.
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