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On scoring complexity

[ by Charles Cameron — mapping, modeling — no, scoring complexity ]

I was interested to see David Bohm‘s On Dialogue (Pegasus Communications, 1990) listed in the bibliography of Nancy Roberts‘ paper, Wicked problems and Network Approaches to Resolution, which Mike Few quoted extensively in his recent post Failing into Collaboration? on the SWJ blog. Dr. Bohm’s book On Creativity was the topic of Zen’s recent post.

Wicked problems, multiple stakeholders, multiple voices, polyphony, counterpoint – there’s a whole nexus here that needs exploring.

My post on The speeds of thought, complexities of problems addresses the “thought-speed” that best addresses this kind of issue. There are ways to educate that particular style of thinking, and I hope to address them in a future post – but the other issue that’s of importance here is how to notate such problems, how to map them, or …

model them? No.


The question we should be asking is not how to code a machine (via stocks and flows, agent based models) to model them, but how to sketch them in such a way that the human mind, working at that slowest and most profound of speeds, can model them using its own natural complexity and capacity for emergent (“aha!”) insights.

That’s a topic I have discussed here before (e.g.: i, ii, iii) and shall take up again, and my preferred term for the activity is the one used in music: scoring.

The other issue that’s of importance here, then, is how to notate such problems, how to map them, how to score them — so that the tortoise mind can read them the way a musician reads a score…


Above: Score by Cornelius Cardew, “Treatise” (1963-1967), p.183
Below: Score of JS Bach, “Kyrie” from Mass in B Minor


One Response to “On scoring complexity”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    Michael Robinson sent me an email with some intriguing pointers, especially to these two papers on modeling:

    Error and uncertainty in modeling and simulation.pdf
    Uncertainty Classification for the Design and Development of Complex Systems

    I would like to respond to Michael’s email here, because it will help me clarify my stance.  
    Both these papers, which are of considerable interest to me, are about mathematical modeling and its pitfalls. My own intention, however, is to “score” human thought processes at the level of anecdote and quote, because I believe that’s the level at which human minds can most easily comprehend complexities — and here I am (roughly) following Gregory Bateson’s observation:

    One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don’t ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we are not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping from complexity to complexity.


    I don’t think this access is limited to poetry, but I think it operates in a more extensive zone that I’ll call “the music of ideas”.  It is that music that I am interested in “scoring” 

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