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RE: cybernetics and the Internet, Was: <nettime> NNA...
Ronda Hauben on Sun, 11 Jun 2006 01:25:21 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: cybernetics and the Internet, Was: <nettime> NNA...

On Thu, 8 Jun 2006, kenneth c. werbin wrote:

> I was not intending to suggest that the attendees of the Macy
> conferences were military mathematicians (although some like Wiener
> clearly were), rather that the Macy conferences saw social scientists,
> like Mead, consider questions of cybernetics and feedback in their
> fields, as well as in greater society. This is clearly attested to in
> the title of the inaugral Macy conference, "Feedback Mechanisms and
> Circular Causal Systems in Biological and Social Systems", held on
> March 8-9, 1946*. The Macy conferences were but one means of spreading
> the gospel of cybernetics to academics at large. Indeed, I in no way
> intended to reduce the cybernetic community of the 40's and 50's
> "to some militray plot for the purpose of control", rather I wanted
> to illuminate the applicability and resonance of this mathematical
> philosophy to open social order.

But the Macy Conferences were actually about feedback systems, not
about "mathematical philosophy to open social order" as far as the
reading I have done.

I have read a number of the discussions in the Macy Conference volumes.

The point there was to encourage cross disciplinary discussion and
to break through the communication boundaries of the various disciplines.

The effort to look at feedback or self organizing systems across different
disciplines meant that the research was different depending on the
different disciplines

> Does this fit with your reading?

No what you suggest doesn't fit in with my reading.

Which books on the Macy conferences would
> you recommend?

First I recommend you read some of the conferences themselves. There is
a relatively new edition containing all five of them

Cybernetics | Kybernetik
The Macy-Conferences 1946.1953
Volume 1 Transactions/Protokolle
Edited by Claus Pias
Published by Diaphanes: Zurich, Berlin

The 5 Macy Conference volumes are included in this edition and are in
English though the publisher is German.

Other suggestions:
Invention by Wiener

Invention: The Care and Feeding of Ideas (Hardcover)
by Norbert Wiener, Steve Joshua Heims

Book Review of Netizens by Boldur Barbat

cybernetics.ref (14%)

Article on the Information Processing Techniques Office I am working on:

The Information Processing Techniques Office and the Birth of the Internet
 A Study in Governance


It is important to keep in mind that Norbert Wiener at a point in his
life didn't do military related work.



> * Summaries of all the Macy conference sessions can be found at the American
> Society for Cybernetics
> http://www.asc-cybernetics.org/foundations/history/MacySummary.htm
> best,
> ~kcw

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