Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Understanding the Anatomy of a System

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This article describes "the SNO (system-network-object) hierarchy from the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework." It's an interesting and extensive discussion that I don't entirely agree with but feel is worth sharing. "A system, put simply, is composed of individual parts and interactions that produce some result or outcome," writes Mark Ratcliff. "The human body is a prime example of a dynamic and resilient system we can all relate to." Well - yeah - but a human body doesn't "produce some result or outcome," not in the sense Ratcliff intends; we aren't production engines like factories or economies. I like the three level diagram, but only if we understand that systems are objects. A network of many interconnected entities can be thought of as one thing (a culture, a nation, a flock, for example) and this one thing can have properties that emerge from the interaction of the objects forming that network. But I don't think these emergent properties include "results or outcomes" - they aren't teleological. That's my major disagreement with systems theorists, I believe.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: May 22, 2024 6:03 p.m.

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