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Welcome to Systems Explorers
A New Chapter
Why systems? Why now?
Ever since graduating from college in 2012 my career and my curiosity has been laser-focused on a single topic — cryptocurrencies and the world of blockchains.
I still believe in crypto’s mission to increase global economic freedom and build better financial systems, but I’m no longer deeply curious about the technology. There’s little mystery left for me.
As someone who is driven primarily by my curiosity and desire for understanding, this has naturally led my attention to drift towards a new obsession. I want to learn as much as I can about systems.
The question of how to define “system” is a complex one which deserves its own post. Here’s one useful definition to start with.
“A system is a set of things—people, cells, molecules, or whatever—interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time” — Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems
The key concept is that we are dealing with sets of things that are connected which produce unique behavior as a result of the way in which they are connected.
My desire to understand systems stems from the fact that they are quite literally everywhere; they make up the fabric of our existence. The fact that diverse systems such as rocks, the United States Congress, and our solar system all share common underlying elements is satisfying to the part of me that craves to better understand how our world works. Although they have distinct features, they also share common properties such as possessing boundaries, consisting of internal components, and interacting with an external environment.
In 2012 I believed Bitcoin was the most fascinating system on the planet. People thought I was crazy for believing Bitcoin could even work in the early days.
Today, I believe that Systems Science, the fledgling academic discipline concerned with understanding systems, is the most interesting topic in the world. Many people today think it’s strange that I’m so interested in systems science. What does that mean? Is it even a real science? What can we use it for?
I’ve learned that when my inner passion and conviction is met with intense outer skepticism, it’s a sign I’m on the right track.
My journey exploring crypto was a solitary one. I spent years tinkering with software while perusing online message boards, Reddit, and Twitter for information.
I want my journey through the world of systems to be different, to be collaborative.
I want to use this newsletter to create a community of people who are interested in exploring “systemness” and the future of systems science. My desire is to:
Foster close connections between members, prioritizing quality of relationships over quantity of readers
Inspire deep conversations about systems, their properties, and how they manifest in the world
Facilitate exciting and productive collaborations between community members
Readers might be curious about systems science but lack the time or motivation to deeply explore the subject. They want simple introductions to key concepts and actionable insights.
Other readers will be experienced and battle-hardened systems practitioners. They are scientists, engineers, theorists, and teachers who have been steeped in a systems approach for years or decades. They want to help systems science mature as a discipline.
What to Expect
Ultimately Systems Explorers is about me following my curiosity, sharing where it leads me, and connecting with others who share my passion.
I’ll share one post every week on Tuesdays. You can expect a blend of academic theory, the application of systems science to better understand the world, and personal reflections on systems that interest me.
Some questions that will be explored in the newsletter:
What is a system? What do all systems have in common? What are the unique properties of complex adaptive systems, and how can we dance with them?
What is systems science? Why is it useful? What is needed to help it mature into a serious academic discipline?
How can we use this knowledge to improve ourselves, our interpersonal relationships, our governments and economies, and our relationship with the Earth?
I’m looking forward to embarking on this journey. If you would like to join me please hit the subscribe button and come along for the ride!
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