Since I started to get into Cybernetics I developed a special sensitivity regarding the usage of the term “cyber”. A few well known examples:
Cyber War Cyber Army Cyber Terror Cyber Crime Cyber Bullying/Mobbing Cyber Security Cyber Attacks Cyber Sex (nothing against sex, but why Cyber?) Cyber Punk (which is actually cool ;))
So: Why in the world is this term associated with these (more or less) lethal or freaky contexts? Why is it not called “Internet War”, “Internet Terror”, etc.?
My only conclusion so far: The origin of the term “Cyber” itself, in conjunction with popular SciFi led a to biased perception what Cyber(netics) actually is.
At this point I would like to embed a little anecdote of Stafford Beer. Once he traveled to the US and had to show up his passport. The immigration officer looked at his job description and said: “Interesting, you are a Cybernetician – you are freezing people, right?”. Stafford answered (as far as I remember): “No, that is Cryonics, but never mind.”
So he changed his professional status to “professor”, because he got rid of explaining it over and over again.
Obviously many people thought (and still think) that Cybernetics is somewhat like a mix of a future science and alchemy – definitely related to mystical knowledge that can be only obtained by sacrificing a chicken liver on full moon. Or that it is connected with a global conspiracy which wants to control everybody’s thoughts… That is really a pity, because the basic concept of cyber is not that esoteric, spacey or control freak-like at all: It is just about the circular causalities that we humans encounter when we observe our environment (or inner-, outer-, sub-environments, what ever you want to specify it).
Unfortunately there is a cultural problem with the idea of ‘control’ –namely sup- or oppression. In my opinion this is narrow minded, since I am very happy to enjoy the autonomous self-regulatory activities of my immune system. Therefore a deeper look into Cybernetics offers the insight that viable systems are always more successful, if they distribute and share power within the system with THESE parts which have the “requisite variety” to handle the situation (which describes just a principle and not a ethical behavior or the perceived purpose).
This observation is indeed quite ancient and still very present.
And very powerful.
WOW! What a fantastic Reasons to be Creative festival! I am back at home and still full of energy and overwhelmed by the inspirational input I got. Additionally I met so many people and made new friends across Europe. Endorphine rush galore.
The advertised slogan truly fulfilled its promise:
Of course my impressions are insofar distorted, since I was a tiny tiny tiny part of the event – as one of the Elevator Pitch speakers, but later about that.
At first I want to emphasize the special atmosphere of the whole thing. It’s a perfect combination of a very well selected program, a beautiful venue and … John Davey, the creator and host of the festival (not to forget his wife and of course the whole crew – but John is “the face to the customer”). It is his personal presence, which creates this family/community like feeling for three days (or four ;-)). And as a good host he is the connector, whilst putting the speakers into the context of “reasons to be creative”.
But it is of course the content that matters (at least to me) and therefore the program/selection of topics and speakers was again wisely assembled. You have always a choice between techie/creative sessions – and especially the Inspired Sessions are a happening you never ever want to miss!
My subjective, personal highlights (it’s a spontaneously generated list, so it might refer to a certain kind of priority):
Why: “I’ve convinced myself that inside every single thing in the world there are hundreds of surprising ideas, connections and possibilities waiting to be discovered. I just need to look closer to find them”. Introduction from his book Variations on Normal. I think that tells everything. Follow the links and dive into his uni-/micro-/metaverse.
Jeff Greenspan, Be your own brand
Why: I expected a “how to sell yourself” presentation – maybe a bit cheesy – but I was totally wrong. The session was an insightful talk about the way Jeff developed as a person and how his job titles changed – and especially I liked the narrative of the “comma”. You grow as you do you evolve, and nothing is sure but doing “it”. Success is not guaranteed, so you have to do “it” (your project, idea, vision, …). Just ASK. Good message and very good pieces playing with social hacking. I especially liked the Edward Snowden monument and the story behind it.
Evan Roth, The Art of Misuse Why: It was fascinating to see him speaking with so much passion, personal openness and a honest portion of self irony about his projects, developments and intimate thoughts on the journey to himself. And by the way (and that’s what I love about this festival), I of course have seen already one of his early works:
David Lenaerts, A Peek at the Future of 3D on the Web
Why: It was very cool to learn about the current trends in 3D programming, covering a wide variety of sub topics like rendering methods, shading, smoke simulation, etc. Besides the technical explanations, which were pretty cool explained so that one could follow the conclusion, he gave insights into matters like the biological constraints, our perception system and what is “good enough”. The Porsche 911 web special is top nudge. Kudos again.
I could only add my personal insight, how we somehow transformed into a group of competing fellows. It’s nice to remember how we tried to give each other a good vibe, whilst mutually being aware of this adrenalin rollercoaster thingy each of us was going through. Nevertheless – we made it. But maybe this is just the Stockholm Syndrome … Sorry for joking, could not resist 😉 – But… I hope I can speak for all of us: We learned “something”, and that is IMHO the real point about the whole experience. Therefore I can only repeat what Geri already wrote: Apply for the session!
Last but not least I want to mention:
Another aspect that I like about the festival: It’s well – very smoothly – organized. And: I am a big fan of a proper AV equipment – and this stuff is high quality. The sound system really rocks. I attended on other “conferences” and it was a pity to see/experience the bad equipment and looking at disoriented people, running around in an non personal atmosphere.
And.. we got unlimited free vegan drinks for everybody! Redbull! 😉 har, har.
Just recently I wrote about some basic insights regarding the (current) education of our son. After posting this in Facebook my (more or less virtual) friend Bruno wrote:
rule #1: it’s a kid, not a project
To make it short: I totally agree, even though I have to admit that I felt a little bit angry about this response. Why was I angry? Because I thought this aspect is soooo crystal clear, that I do not have to point this out. I felt personally “attacked” (yes, my problem), that such a smart guy like him has to write a comment like that. On the other hand I am glad for his opinion (or feedback = corrective impulse), since he gave me the opportunity to write about one of my favorite pieces of Khalil Gibran – “On children” – which says:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Ok. Forget the “God”-blah (as an atheist I replace these terms with “universe”). The condensed “truth” is: Let the children be children. Let them make their own experiences. Let them go their own path – do not even try to create “perfect” beings. Give love, consultation and patience. So everything I can do is to offer, but not to “sell” insights. And definitely no helicopter-parent-style indoctrination.
To end up this post, and to prove that I really mean it, one last little story about my stance:
I am (or was?) really not the greatest fan of soccer. And what happened? Our son is since one year TOTALLY into it. He loves the game, the spectacle, the team spirit, … actually everything which a seven year old can understand about it.
What happened? He will join a kids soccer club in August and I bought a seasonal ticket for Fortuna Düsseldorf.
The cool thing is: I started to understand the “narrative” of soccer – and I started to like it. And that is the real thingy about this story: I have the chance to learn something from him. That is the real gift.
There are for sure many aspects of live (and philosophy) that I would like to transfer to our son. But in the moment three aspects play an important role in my current state of father-ship:
a) A german phrase, which is relatively easy to translate: “Communicating humans can be helped” (-> Sprechenden Menschen kann geholfen werden)
b) Don’t account what you miss – but be aware of what you have (what is here and now), as a resource. In other words: It is not bad to be aware of “what’s missing”. But at first start with the question: What is my initial situation? What do I have? What is the potential of the context? Do not be a master of personal “deficit management” (German: “Mangelverwaltung”). Because then one probably will end up in a loop of mental stasis, anxiety and frustration. Hope can’t be bought, but one can “earn” it by clever reflection.
c) Failing is inevitable. Perfection is abstract. It is very rare to see ones “stars/idols” failing in “public”. But they failed – gazillions times. So especially as a kid it is easy to assume that these “idols” never failed. The learning process is not necessarily obvious. Therefore keep on asking yourself : Have I learned from my “mistakes”? Aka: By “unterstanding” the limits one could gain the power to overcome these limits. It is not guaranteed that one might achieve ones goals. but it is more likely to get closer – or even push the boundaries of ones personal system.