By Luciano Gallón
It was around last May that Patricia, our RC51 president, ask the RC51 board for ideas on a RC51 2020 conference after the postponement of the ISA Forum because of the pandemic. It was a provocative and interesting challenge because of the restrictions but also an opportunity for creating new ways for participation for member and non-members.
After some really key experiences working with documents about a “credo” or a “manifesto” of a field of knowledge, I shared with the board a proposal for carrying out an experiment on collaborative writing of a very simple but relevant document for our sociocybernetics field. It should be a very simple experiment, easy, and take little time. In the end we would have a two to three pages document with a set of ideas about the present, practice, future of, and vision for, sociocybernetics.
After a couple of board meetings, we as a team came out with the decision of holding a collaborative experiment with the purpose of writing a “Sociocybernetics Manifesto”. The other possibility was writing a “credo for sociocybernetics” but this was well discarded with solid arguments.
So, during June and July, detailed planning began with the challenge of setting up an experimental and collaborative session, two hours maximum, open to all participants, both members and non-members. Through an online collaborative debate process, the goal was to produce a short reference document about sociocybernetics as a paradigmatic framework: a Sociocybernetics Manifesto.
We held the experimental session on the third day of the online RC51 2020 Conference, July 16th. The core ideas the participants shared came from these three aspects of sociocybernetics:
- Intentions: What one has in mind as a purpose or goal to do or bring about with sociocybernetics (what for?)
- Motives: Something (such as a need or desire) that causes you to act based on sociocybernetics: (why?)
- Views: A mode or manner of looking at or regarding sociocybernetics (what?)
For me, as the experiment moderator, this was a wonderful experience. Seeing the way everybody was following the instructions, well, almost everybody, and how the flow of ideas started to increase with a lot of insights on sociocybernetics, was evidence of a useful way of creating value for RC51.
In the end we got 86 points about the three aspects: 34 Intentions, 30 Motives and 22 Views. So, at first, it looks like answering What for? is easier than What? We also got 294 votes for the different points.
What is next? The experiment has not ended yet. We have the following plan ahead: September: document what was done and the result as it is; October: debugging work; November: a new on-line session with guests to do a second round of review and consolidation; and, finally, December: publication of the manifesto.
I will conclude this report by remembering Felix Geyer. I had the opportunity to meet him in person during the RC51 2007 Conference in Murcia. I learned from him some key answers to the question What is sociocybernetics? Following Felix’s insights, I invite all the participants in the manifesto session to share your ideas about the evidence, or not, of the presence of these concepts during the “intriguing experimental session: Self-reference, Self-steering, Self-organization, Auto-catalysis and Cross-catalysis and Autopoiesis.
Please feel free to share with me your ideas over firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again for your support and participation.