Mapping the web of life


This past weekend I started reading The Web of Life. A new Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, by Fritjof Capra.

This book covers systems thinking, Netsci, autopoeisis, self-organizing systems, ecology, cybernetics, fractals quantum physics and classical physics.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about these topics. I’m not done with this book but here are some of my favorite quotes from this book so far:

Capra quoting Maturana:

“Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition. This statement is valid for all organisms, with and without a nervous system.”

This may provide some support towards the humane validation of the living organisms we have undervalued and dismissed.

“He, [Maturana], postulated that the nervous system is not only self-organizaing but also continually self-referring, so that perception cannot be viewed as the representation of an external reality but must be understood as the continual creation of new relationships within the neural network.”

This idea points towards an understainding of our imagination and creativity. It challenges some of the psyche-based sciences. This also points towards the possibility that we construct and create “reality” inside our cognitive systems. The self-referring, patterns within the nervous system network may point towards the possibility that our nervous system itself may be using the self-similar pattern of a fractal to construct reality.

“Patterns cannot be measured or weighted; they must be mapped. To understand a pattern we must map a configuration of relationships. In other words, structure involve quantities, while patterns involve qualities.”

This point underscores the need for new ways to visualize information and relationships, in order for us to gain a deeper understanding of systems thinking dynamics.

Innovators may want to pay close attention to this need. I would suggest that it will continue to grow. I would also suggest that those visualization systems that use 3-D graphics, and real-time approximations of interaction patterns should expect to take play a significant role in this market.

Daniel Montano

For some instpiration see:


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