Cybernetics in the 3rd Millennium (C3M) -- Volume 3 Number 2, Feb. 2004
Alan B. Scrivener --- www.well.com/~abs --- mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
A Few Odds and Ends
No new e-Zine this month; I spent my time creating a web site on the
history and culture of the region you pass though driving from LA to
Las Vegas. Why you may ask? Well, the US Defense Department's
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is sponsoring
a road race of DRIVERLESS VEHICLES from Barstow to Vegas (approx.)
with a $1,000,000 prize for the first team whose robot crosses the
finish line before 10 hours.
This in turn has inspired some local community-building activity
called "Operation Desert Bloom," and as part of this I was asked
to produce a web site, which you can see at:
The part that -- I believe -- embodies the most cybernetic thinking
is entitled "Contexts for the Desert 0: Introduction: The Western
Wisdom of Powell and Stegner." See of you can find it!
The entire text to Steven Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" is now
Also, there is a new free e-Zine there called "NSKwire" and a conference
is coming up April 22-25, 2004 called "NSK2004 Boston" -- see:
Good Morning Alan!
...this made me twitch:
The innovation at that point was storing the programs in the same
memory as the data.
and the reason is that I thought the Turing Machine also met this
criteria and antedates Neumann's explication of such a principle,
albeit in a different scheme. I guess I'm asking for a free lecture
because I'm almost certain you'll "straighten me out" given you have
been doing your homework and I'm just talking off the top of my head,
but if you could spare me a paragraph to clarify this for me I'd
Well, first of all, you're right, the Von Neumann Architecture
did actually mark a return to the Turing Architecture, and Turing
even built one of his "Universal Turing Machines" secretly at
Bletchley Park to attack some crypto problems, but this wasn't
declassified until the 1970s, and the original equipment and notes
were all destroyed about 1945. Von N. and company THOUGHT they
were the first, and for a while the literature agreed with them.
Well, I just found your "A Curriculum for Cybernetics and Systems
Theory" at www.well.com/user/abs/curriculum.html and have been
exploring it. Very helpful, especially the main ideas, notes, & quotes
from the various books you include. It's packed with information and
references, so I'll be at it for awhile.
You asked for feedback and unanswered questions, so I thought I would
see what insights you can offer.
I'm a graduate student at Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS)
working towards a M.S. in Mass Communications. I currently work at
K-State's Salina campus as an instructional technology coordinator
(setting up, maintaining, and upgrading multimedia technology for
classrooms and conferencing). My life purpose/mission,
however, revolves around helping churches improve their outreach
I don't know what your church experience has been, but I'd guess you
at least have some opinions. I have been largely disappointed
with how out-of-touch and behind-the-times churches have been and
I'm trying to figure out why there seems to be a reluctance or
resistance to embrace newer technologies for the purpose of sharing
the message that we claim is lifechanging and for all.
For my review of literature (our "big" semester assignment,
hopefully to have relevance towards our Masters thesis), I
proposed the question "Why are churches and church people in
general satisfied with inadequate and ineffective communication?"
My communication theory professor recommended that I look into
systems theory and cybernetics as possible explanations -- or at
least starting points -- to my question. From the overview
you gave, I can kind of see why - the idea of open systems having
more openness to change by embracing what's outside, perhaps many
churches see themselves as closed systems trying to protect their
system from outside influence?
Any suggestions? insights? cautions?
I have no direct experience in trying to bring churches
into the 21st century, though I did almost single-handedly
bring electric guitars into a Presbyterian church back in the
1960s, when I was a teenager. Some people were aghast,
though they couldn't tell me what commandment we were
But on a hunch I asked my dad what he thought, since he
has been a computer-literate church volunteer quite recently.
He said it's because most church secretaries are old ladies,
and they're the ones who'd have to use the equipment.
He added that pastors are sometimes older and church governing
bodies (sessions, deacons, or whatever) often are, but the
church secretaries almost always are, and its extremely rare for
a church to have young adults in all three categories.
Hope this was helpful.
Subject: Online-Book: Cybernetic Computer and Electronic Brain
I just found your webpage about Cybernetic.
I like to send you the following link:
It's the complete book: Cybernetic Computer and Electronic Brain
by by Rolf Lohberg and Theo Lutz
Perhaps this helpes your Webpage-Users to get a "first Idea" about
Dear Mr. Scrivener,
We are three students of Medicine at the Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki (AUTH) in Greece. We have been assigned a project regarding
the function of the brain. We are looking for an article entitled:
"A logical calculus of the ideas immanent in nervous activity.
McCulloch, WS, & Pitts, W. (1943)".
We have searched across the Internet but we only found references of
the above article and not the original paper. We have also read in an
essay of you the following:
"I did locate an essay on "a logical calculus of the ideas immanent
in nervous activity," in which he asserts: ..."
We would be really grateful to you if you could please be so
kind as to send us the original paper via e-mail (if you still have
it of course). We are looking forward to hearing from you in due course.
With kind regards,
The paper you are seeking is reprinted in the collection
"Embodiments of Mind" by Warren McCulloch. Buy a used
copy via Amazon.com for about $12:
or look for it at a university library.
I wrote to you last year concerning the transfer of cybernetic thinking
to organisations. You used this at the end of the newsletter.
The project I mentioned is growing to the point where the Board wants to
use it to solve their problem: exploding costs of IT systems for
controlling the movement of trains. They are now receptive to the idea
of cybernetics in IT.
Great news. However, I have been looking at studies linking the use of
cybernetics (control theory, Viable Systems Model, recursion) to IT
costs. And I am still looking. That's the reason for this mail: do
you know of studies linking cybernetics with lower IT costs. The
main thing is to make abstract theory of cybernetics tangible to
Jelle van Luipen
I haven't been able to come up with any studies. I do have a strategic
suggestion, though: call it "operations research" or "management science."
That they will understand.
Long time ago you knew me, ###### ######'s older brother ###. Startling
our paths may cross again. I am now a PhD working for the Department
of Veterans Affairs. My research is in control interfaces, specifically
for individuals with upper extremity impairments such as tremor. I am
writing a grant to fund research on computer access technology for this
population. I note you are involved with Siggraph.
Do you have any suggestions for literature that can identify how many
individuals can't use a standard mouse or similar pointing devices.
The medical literature is weak because computer access hasn't reach
the threshold of medical necessity. Perhaps a commercial researcher
has done some marketing research.
Appreciate any help you can send my way.
[Readers: pass any info you have along to me and I will forward it.]
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Copyright 2004 by Alan B. Scrivener