Hank Bull on Sat, 28 Sep 96 07:19 METDST

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nettime: Re: Nettime:organizing diversity

I was fascinated by the article, Organizing Diversity, by Stark and Grabher, 
submitted by Diana McCarty. This is my first encounter with the field of 
'network analysis'.

Perhaps I should not be surprised to discover scientific evidence that 
'diversity', 'dissonance', 'ambiguity', 'localities' and 'loosely coupled 
networks' are not negative qualities but actually help to improve system 
efficiency. It is nevertheless refreshing and reminds me of a related theme.

A fundamental principle of ecology has it that boundary zones are crucial to 
the health of any bioregion. Where a forest meets a clearing, for example, 
there is a great deal of interaction between species of the two bioregions. 
Through predation, cross fertilization, hybrids and so on, each bioregion 
borrows from its neighbour that which it needs to nourish and sustain it's 
own system. 

At the edge of a stream, there is a narrow zone that is home to a variety of 
microbes, plants and insects, who make their living where land meets water. 
As the water deepens, reptiles and small fish feed on these tiny creatures. 
The food chain builds from there. It has been shown, by simply rebuilding a 
narrow riparian zone, that the health of creeks and rivers can be 
dramatically improved, with large fish returning to the system in quite a 
short time. 

The message of this example -- that healthy margins lead to healthy 
mainstreams -- can be carried over to the cultural domain. The metaphor of 
the "littoral", or tidal beach, has been used by Projects Environment 
(Salford, England) to describe the process of transformation and evolution 
that exists in the zone between art and society. This is similar to the 
evolutionary and mathemaical language adopted by Stark and Grabher. It is an 
interdisciplinary approach that I find aesthetically quite appealing. 
Thank-you Diane McCarty.

I have a question, however, regarding the title: Organizing Diversity. Who 
will do the organizing? Is the inherent contradiction (like organizing 
chaos) intended? Is it not one of the essential qualities, and advantages, 
of diversity that it cannot be organized?

 Hank Bull, hank@wimsey.com
 Western Front, 303 E. 8th Ave., Vancouver V5T 1S1 
 tel: 604-876-9343  fax: 604-876-4099

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