My week in Review

I have something of a fixation for the new. This cybernetics research is new, it is interesting and, I can feel it, important. And it is all these things because the researches of Norbert  Wiener, Gregory Bateson and others did away with the old and using the concepts embedded within Cybernetics as their guiding light they created a new world. The plethora of new ideas, technologies and understandings to come out of this time have fueled the world ever since. To understand why this period is so important to the world we live in now is necessary to find out what happened and why during the 1940’s and 1950’s. I cannot help but want to dive down and bring this history to light, to share it with the rest of the world.

This last week has seen me on a diminished research timeframe due to other factors in life. Nontheless, I started digging into the wealth of data that surrounds Nobert Wiener, not only the father of Cybernetics, but also one of America’s, and the worlds, greatest polymaths whose insights went far outside that of mathematics. The image that is coming out is one of a man for who the beauty of pure mathematics wasn’t enough, and any thing Wiener touched turned into a beautiful example of applied, practical, meaningful mathematics.

I also dug into Gregory Bateson. Now I’m an anthropologist but I have never come across the name Gregory Bateson before now, not even as the husband of Margaret Mead, who in anthropology circles is a very famous, and now controversial, name. However, beginning to sift the data surrounding Bateson reveals an original inter-disciplinary mind who saw the importance of explicating the ‘Cybernetic Explanation’ in terms of humanity and the world in which they lived.

You Should Read:

Dark Hero of the Information Age By Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman – A deep, Humanising  biography about Norbert Wiener. This book makes the great mathematician not simply a set of equations.

‘Cybernetic Explanation’ in Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson – This piece lays out, explicitly, the direction Bateson comes to Cybernetics and humanity, and what it means to him. I was going to say ‘Cybernetics and Anthropology’, but it isn’t that simple with Bateson.


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