Terse Systems

Systemantics

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New Five Minutes of Fame presentation. This one’s a presentation about a little known book called Systemantics (a.k.a. The Systems Bible).

This is a hard book to get hold of, but a worthwhile one. Systemantics doesn’t make a lot of sense without the context of Systems Theory, which is responsible for the word “cybernetics” and a whole bunch else, mostly talking about systems in the context of the complex feedback loop of a nuclear power plant.

Systemantics is a little bit different: it talks about the feedback loop involved in organizations, and how the system has an independent life (and will to live) outside of any of its participants. It’s a book about how systems actually behave, and how what an observer may consider to be a bug looks like appropriate behavior to the system. It’s about the system as you know it at 2 am, the system complete unto itself in all its ineffable complexity.

That being said, much of it is applicable to complex computer systems as well — in fact I’d say that Systems Theory is far more applicable to my day job than most CS Theory is, and if there’s ever going to be a Software Engineering curriculum then I’d want it to include this book.

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