John Robb is hard at work on Book II which will be about the building of ” Resilient Communities”. He’s batted a few comments about on twitter and worked up a series of posts on the RC theme at his “formal” site. Here are a few samples to give the flavor of his enterprise:
“Resilience” is a particularly intriguing concept with multiple meanings though John is honing in on those related to Newtonian physics and complexity theory ( one source in the last post, Ilya Prigogine ,was a significant influence on John Boyd). I particularly liked this bit by John:
The modification of thermodynamics necessary to accommodate this observable fact was formulated by the Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine in a theory called “dissipative systems” (read his excellent book: “The End of Certainty” for more). One important leap in this theory is that a dissipative system isn’t a closed system. Rather, it lives within a larger system (an “environment”) that it can interact with.
This upshot of this is that it can extract energy from this larger external environment to increase its structural complexity (build itself up through a process called self-assembly). It can also use this external environment to dump the entropy created during the energy conversion process to minimize the deleterious impact on its structure.
We’ve been pretty good at building up the complexity and are rather poor at dissipating the entropy, mostly for reasons related to the structure of our political system that ties self-interest of politicians and corporate CEOs to short-term frameworks and gives comparative advantage to rentier interests over innovators. The problem has become more difficult because many aspects of “the system” due to globalization are now beyond any state’s control.
Resiliency will involve decentralization and independence within greater interdependence in order to put natural “brakes” on high velocity forces without using draconian state controls ( which won’t work and never did – except with globalization they will be all side effects and no benefits). I’m very much looking forward to reading what solutions Robb proposes in Book II.
ADDENDUM: Past posts on resiliency: