Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Your favorite books and links
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SalutNounou
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Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by SalutNounou » Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:34 pm

Hello Everybody!

After having read again and again that ERE was system thinking applied to personal finances and permaculture is system thinking applied to growing plants, I decided to read further about systems theory. I just finished Thinking in systems by D. Meadows and I will soon start the Weinberg book.
So far, what i have read :
-blew my mind
-made me feel very ashamed because, having been an engineering student ten years ago, I realized that I did learn a lot of the notions (for instance, positive/negative feedback loops and their effects, etc) but I never pushed it further to use it outside of my academic studies.

So I was wondering if there were other good books on the subject, especially on how it is applied to various domains. Do any of you have book recommendations on applied system theory?

jacob
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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by jacob » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:17 pm

I highly recommend the Weinberg book. When I wrote there ERE book there wasn't a whole lot of literature out there but there seems to have been some developments during the past 6 years, yet not that much. I'd recommend looking into Senge's works ("the 5th discipline"). Also Norbert Wiener (early cybernetics stuff). Anything out of the Santa Fe institute. Didier Sornette. O.E. Wilson. Bateson. Musashi. Sun Tzu.

One observation of systems theory writings is that they won't make sense or that they will appear useless or absurd until you're ready for them.

Overall, there aren't that much application yet. I think this is 99% because applied systems-thinking is supremely hard because it requires practitioners to be intimately familiar with multiple aspects of the system in order to make the connections, see http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-intolerance-of-genius/

PS: Not applying college education to actual living is perfectly normal. Yup, pretty shameful. But therein lies the problem.

JamesR
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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by JamesR » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:26 pm

@jacob, There's been a number of forum threads where it was going on fairly normally and then all of a sudden BLAMMO, you drop some systems perspective that was completely novel to whatever the topic was. I really enjoy that.

I don't see many people having that heavily internalized system-izing of everything style of thinking. I noticed that Elon Musk definitely has that, just listen to him talking about the automated car manufacturing lines and he'll be focusing on metrics that not even normal engineers would ever think of.

I've noticed that from some writers as well but I forget who. (The on-the-fly system-izing thinking isn't as obvious with writers though..)

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Dragline
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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by Dragline » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:45 pm

+1 on Sante Fe Institute.

The Origin of Wealth by Beinhocker.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:45 pm

I recently read "Thinking in Systems" and I have been playing around with some systems modeling software. I agree with what Jacob said about application being supremely hard. Even trying to construct the simplest model for energy flow in my garden system is very confusing or awkward feeling. For instance, it takes a minute to figure out what to do with watts/square ft. Land because the Sun is not a stock that is being depleted for the purposes of my model. Also, Land is a stock which can be sold/purchased for Dollars, but has to be divvied up between PVC , Cherry tree, and potato plant use etc. etc. etc. etc.

Anyways, it is super fun, and I hope to be able to use it to do all sorts of things like consider all the consequences of growing a potato, then eating it, then using the energy my gut microbes are providing to my muscles to operate a bicycle to ride 12 miles to a trail where I know I can dig up some black raspberries, then plant them in my garden, and then feed them some greenwood mulch, and then run my model 5 years into the future, and see how much more energy I will have.

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SalutNounou
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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by SalutNounou » Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:40 am

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Yes, systems thinking is quite difficult to apprehand. I remember reading the ERE book a first time, thinking it was too much abstract theory(let's face it, i was looking for the tips), and then re-reading it some time later, when it all made sense.

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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:50 am

https://www.amazon.com/Mindstorms-Child ... 0465046746 ... this is not so much directly about systems thinking but about learning about learning in particular when it comes to learning new paradigms. The context is old. 1980s computers. Anyone remember LOGO and the turtle?

saving-10-years
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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by saving-10-years » Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:10 am

There was an Open University (UK) course which I think is no longer offered and which was remade into a course 'systems thinking and practice' see http://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-m ... -section-0 which might be useful.

EDIT: This is an openlearn course so free to study.

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Re: Looking for resources on applied system thinking

Post by SilverElephant » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:34 am

The Weinberg book has a newer edition ("silver anniversary") which unfortunately seems to only exist in paperback form. As far as I can tell from the preface, the only changes seem to concern "sexist language" which was "changed in as many places as I could find". Any particular reason to get either edition? I'll have to buy either way because no library close to me has it.

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