Only the geography and anatomy of the subject is described and analyzed; a kind of system of static
relations [Most architecture and graphic design systems are of this type.]
Machines that are determined
The level of control in mechanical and cybernetical [sic] systems
As an open and self-maintaining system, having a through-put that transforms unpredicted inputs into
outputs [what Maturana, Varela, and Uribe later called an “autopoetic” system]
Of plants and accumulated cells
Specialized receptors, a nervous system, and an “image”
All of the previous six—plus self-consciousness. The system knows that it knows, and knows that it dies
The unit at this level is a role, rather than a state; messages with content and meaning exist, and value
systems are developed
The “ultimates” and “absolutes” and the “inescapables” with systematic structure
— Kenneth Boulding, as summarized by Horst Rittel [ 13]
[ 10] has referred to a “moral compass” or scale for
interactivity “Reactive > Automatic > Interactive
> Instrument > Platform.” Cornock and Edmonds
have proposed five distinctions: (i) Static system, (ii) Dynamic-passive system, (iii) Dynamic-interactive system, (iv) Dynamic-interactive system
(varying), and (v) Matrix [ 11]. Kenneth Boulding
distinguishes nine types of systems [ 12].
One way to characterize types of interactions is by
looking at ways in which systems can be coupled
together to interact. For example, we might characterize interaction between a person and a steam
engine as a learning system coupled to a self-regulating system. How should we characterize
computer-human interaction? A person is certainly a learning system, but what is a computer? Is it
a simple linear process? A self-regulating system?
Or could it perhaps also be a learning system?
Working out all the interactions implied by combining the many types of systems in Boulding’s
model is beyond the scope of this paper. But we
might work out the combinations afforded by a
more modest list of dynamic systems: linear systems (0 order), self-regulating systems (first order),
and learning systems (second order). They can be
combined in six pairs: 0-0, 0-1, 0-2, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2.
a sense, the two linear systems function as one.
This type of interaction is limited. We might
call it pushing, poking, signaling, transferring, or
reacting. Gordon Pask called this “it-referenced”
interaction, because the controlling system treats
the other like an “it”—the system receiving the
poke cannot prevent the poke in the first place [ 14].
A special case of 0-0 has the output of the second (or third or more) systems fed back as input
to the first system. Such a loop might form a self-regulating system.
[ 11] Cornock, S. and
E. Edmonds. “The
Creative Process where
the Artist is Amplified
or Superseded by the
Computer.” Leonardo 6
The output of a linear system provides input for a
self-regulating system. Input
may be characterized as a
disturbance, goal, or energy.
Input as “disturbance” is
the main case. The linear
system disturbs the relation the self-regulating
system was set up to maintain with its environment. The self-regulating system acts to counter
disturbances. In the case of the steam engine, a
disturbance might be increased resistance to turning the wheel, as when a train goes up a hill.
Input as “goal” occurs less often. A linear system
sets the goal of a self-regulating system. In this case,
the linear system may be seen as part of the self-regulating system—a sort of dial. (Later we will discuss the system that turns the dial. See 1-2 below.)
Input as “energy” is another case, mentioned for
completeness, though a different type than the
previous two. A linear system fuels the processes
at work in the self-regulating system; for example,
electric current provides energy for a heater. Here,
too, the linear system may be seen as part of the
[ 12] Boulding, K.
Theory: The Skeleton of
Science 2, no. 3 (1956).
[ 13] Rittel, H. “The
Universe of Design.” A
series of lectures given
at UC Berkeley, 1965.
The output of one linear
system provides input for
another, e.g., a sensor signals a motor, which opens
a supermarket door. Action
causes reaction. The first
system pushes the second.
The second system has no choice in its response. In
[ 14] Pask, G.
in Education and
also an explication of
the model in the text