The links on this page are as disparate as my interests. I grouped them under the following headings:

  • Authors: a totally idiosyncratic list of my favorite authors
  • Cybernetics / Systems Theory / Systems Science / Complexity /
  • Humankind’s Impact on Planet Earth and Hopeful Trends
  • Nonviolence / War / Peace / Conflict Resolution
  • Politics / Economy / Popular Movements
  • People (mostly key cyberneticians / systems scientists but also a few other favorites)
  • Blogs

Authors: a totally idiosyncratic list of my favorite authors. Authors are organized according to the following categories: 1. Sciences (natural and social), 2. System sciences / Cybernetics, 3. Nonviolence – war – peace, 4. Politics and Economics (including humankind’s looming catastrophes and opportunities), 5. Theology, 6. Fiction

1. Sciences (Natural and Social). The work of Prigogine, Holliss, and Henshaw provide the only three widely applicable theories of change in material systems (i.e., systems which are not purely information) that I have been able to find. The three theories cover very different situations and I know of no efforts to consider how they might fit together although I am intermittently working on this question.

1A. Theories of change in material systems

1B. Other natural or social science.

  • Chris Argyris and Donald Schon. Organizational learning, Explicit knowledge (what we are aware that we know) vs Tacit knowledge (what we are not aware of knowing and which determines much of our behavior)
  • John Holland. Adaptation in natural and artificial systems, MIT Press
  • Zukov. the Dancing Wu Li Masters.  an introduction to quantum mechanics
  • Bentov. Stalking the Wild Pendulum. speculation re a possible physics basis for spirits
  • James Lovelock and Lynn Marguiles: the Gaia hypothesis proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulatingcomplex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.
  • Rupert Sheldrake provocatively challenges some of the fundamental assumptions of “normal” science.

2. System Sciences (I knew most of these people)

  • Russell Ackoff. Originator of idealized design / idealized planning and the democratic corporation / circular organization. Ackoff’s work is being carried on via the Ackoff Collaboratory blog and an academic center with the same name.
  • Ross Ashby. Ross’s “Intro to Cybernetics” and “Design for a Brain” are still important books 60 years after their publication.
  • Christopher Alexander. The architect who originated the “pattern language” for building homes and communities.
  • Gregory Bateson. “An Ecology of Mind”
  • Stafford Beer. My intellectual mentor. Originator of management cybernetics, viable system model, and syntegration (team syntegrity). See the official sitewikipedia,  or the series of videos prepared by Javier Livas on You Tube.
  • Kenneth Boulding. Economist, societal dynamics, father of Peace Studies, founder of General System Theory society.
  • Heinz von Foerster. Biological Computing Lab, second order cybernetics
  • von Glaserfeld. constructivism, second order cybernetics
  • Gordon Pask. Learning theory, conversation theory.
  • John Warfield. Interactive management
  • C. West Churchman. Systems thinking, Peace studies.

3. Nonviolence – War – Peace

  • John Dear. A Jesuit priest who writes compellingly about his life as a nonviolent peace activist.
  • Gene Keyes some of the most compelling writing on non-violence and especially how to present nonviolence to those new to the idea.
  • Gene Sharp. the primary theorist for strategic nonviolence, i.e. the use of nonviolent tactics and strategies in large scale conflicts.
  • Walter Wink. a theologian whose work includes a penetrating analysis of the “domination system” that traps all of us and an explication of the tactical brilliance of Jesus that brings. e.g., “turn the other cheek” into hard political tactics. (Disclosure: Wink praised my novel “Denmark Rising” quite extravagantly, so I am prejudiced about him).

4. Politics and Economics (including humankind’s looming catastrophes and opportunities).

  • Stuart Brand
  • Naomi Klein. “Shock Doctrine” and also John Perkins. “Confessions of an economic hit man”. These two look at the impact of neo-liberal / Freidman economics / Chicago school via case studies (Klein) and from the perspective of an insider (Perkins).
  • Third way economies (neither socialist or capitalist). key authors include Paul Korten, David Schweickert, Gar Alperovitz
  • Wilkinson. the Impact of Inequality
  • Paul Hawken.
  • Rebecca Solnit. Her “A Paradise Built in Hell” documents the extraordinary help that most people offer when disaster strikes. Close knit, cooperative communities spring up almost instantly in these situations.
  • Thomas Homer-Dixon. the Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

5. Theology

6. Fiction

  • Tolkein. the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy
  • William Paul Young. The Shack
  • Joan Slonczewski. A Door Into Ocean

Blogs and Journals

Systems Thinking World Journal, where I was the Coordinating Editor, was the journal for “Systems Thinking World”, a LinkedIn community of almost 20,000 consultants, managers, scientists, and concerned citizens united by an interest in the systems sciences.

Daring to Ask is a wide ranging forum/blog that explores the human condition via literature, film, sports, politics, economics and almost anything else that sheds light on the gray zone of human action and reflection.

Co-Intelligence Institute Together we can be wiser than any of us can be alone. We need to know how to tap that wisdom. Co-intelligence involves accessing the wisdom of the whole on behalf of the whole.

Dick Atlee A marvelous site with (among other things) many fascinating documents on the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Dick worked with me briefly during my time in Mississippi and vividly captured some of those experiences.