How systems complicate themselves to death and the need for usability based re-design.


I have been thinking that all systems are –(at least in the beginning)–”open systems”.

To design a system the system needs energy and materials. We can’t just make them appear out of nowhere, so we borrow from our environments.

This may pose the idea that all systems are “open” to a certain degree. Some of them tend to move towards closing themselves and this may introduce a closing factor. The closing factor may describe how closed or how open the system is in a percentage or other type of measurement.

This means that closed systems, (those that once created, effectively recycle all matter and energy without exchanging anything with their environments – and I would guess these are comparatively few), become “closed systems by design”.

The closed design may be intentional and/or the result of emergence (growing complexity).

OK, now in English

Think of our circulatory system, veins, capillaries etc. Now assume there are “gates” in our veins every few millimeters that regulate and limit the ammount of blood that flows through. Every system acts like a “gate” or obstacle that through design and/or through its existence and its contribution to complexity limits the flow of blood through the gate.

In one sentence: systems indiviually and collectively create complexity that limits their effectiveness, their usability and their functionality.

As a collection of systems the systems begin to work as a tourniquet on the circulatory system – something that results in the death of sub-systems that depend on nutrients and energies that never arrive arrive late, and/or may arrive in such small quantities (or high price) that it lowers the chances of survival andor limits the chances of success within the rules of the system.

In one sentence: Lack of functionality due to inneffective complexity with low usability and functionality leads to system atrophy, (and sooner or later maybe network of systems atrophy).

As I said, this may happen by design andor through growing complexity (emergence) that is not continuously re-designed with the aims of usability, user experience, full functionality and effectivity.

I would pose that all systems needs to enter cycles of re-design with an aim towards simplicity, humane design, usability and optimal contextual need-based functionality.

Without open designs that are continuously re-designed (as described above) we are actively designing system tourniquets that are hurting ourselves, our communities, and our global collective ecosystem.

-Daniel Montano

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