Stewart Brand asks a great question: Did Herbert Simon explore the maintenance of systems? I haven’t found Simon discuss maintenance explicitly. But two related themes are worth highlighting: (1) Simon discusses maintenance through the topic of homeostasis. “For example, Maintenance of a system becomes much simpler if the internal temperature is constant.” Keeping a limited … Continue reading Herb Simon on maintenance
A listening dialogue on infrastructure Like any good art project, this idea has been percolating in my mind for a while now. A side project related but very different from my day-to-day. I propose hosting a day-long listening dialogue on the role of infrastructure across disciplines. This gathering would bring together practitioners to uncover patterns … Continue reading Plans for an infrastructure conference
My understanding of maintenance: More: capable to continue to evolve Less: contain at status quo / steady state Related to infrastructure: Keep flexible so can accommodate future changes And don’t forget the personal maintenance it takes to pursue unique ideas or to have sufficient “slack” to emotionally support others The Cybernetics of Maintenance Cybernetics is … Continue reading A short description of maintenance
Title inspired by Bret Victor’s piece “What can a Technologist do about Climate Change?“ Something that has been swirling in my mind lately: personally having a more direct impact on our quest to reduce the causes of climate change. While I’ve been indirectly involved in environmental endeavors for most of my career, I naively thought … Continue reading What can a Building Technologist do about Climate Change?
An excellent framing of the fragmentation in the building industry can be found in Dana A Sheffer’s 2010 dissertation on the Diffusion of Energy Saving Technologies in the Building Industry. (Also see related work here by Daniel Hall.) Sheffer’s piece inspired my own thinking, as written here: Introduction The decentralized nature of the building industry … Continue reading Fragmentation in the building industry
Concluding her famous book, Jane Jacobs writes: “Cities happen to be problems in organized complexity.” From sidewalks of access to sidewalks of place, cities deal “simultaneously with a sizable number of factors which are interrelated into an organic whole .” My question today: If a city is a problem of organized complexity, then what kind … Continue reading The kind of problem a building is
Attention “We rarely attend to what we know.” That’s what urban geographer Yi-Fu Tuan writes in his book Space and Place. It’s a refrain that stays with me. Everywhere I go these days, I see and hear comments and questions on the time and space of flows and how we orient ourselves (and our families) within … Continue reading New ways of distributed work: By the senses
PART 1. “Organizations are systems of behavior designed to enable humans to accomplish their goals” –Herb Simon, The Shape of Automation The “buzziness” of 50-100 The period of organizational growth from 50 to 100 people can be a chaotic time. According to physicist Geoffrey West, at this stage [A] the org begins to lose its “buzziness.” … Continue reading Org Design, Part 1: Nearly decomposable systems, with Serendipity & Slack
Books (with sprinkling of articles & podcasts) that have stuck with me throughout 2018 Scale by G West Engineering Systems by O de Weck, D Roos, C Magee Thinking in Systems by D Meadows How Buildings Learnby S Brand Pace Layering article by S Brand Sciences of the Artificial by H Simon Computers and the World of … Continue reading My 2018 reading list
Something I’ve been struggling with lately is: how does one best “package” their efforts to demonstrate what they’re thinking, working on, achieving? I don’t mean in the sense of a resume or elevator pitch. I mean, how do we point to the ongoing outcomes of our efforts, even when those efforts are still in progress? … Continue reading Should I be writing more?