Monday, March 26, 2007

Self Organizing systems

I have been trying to characterize in my own mind what characteristics a system must have to be self-organizing. This particular paper: Self-organizing systems research in the social sciences: notes that we need to move from using 'self-organizing' as a metaphor to a genuine modeling technique. Capra (1996, p. 82-83) notes that the “most important property is that it is a network pattern. … The pattern of life, we might say, is a network pattern capable of self-organization. This is a simple definition, yet it is based on recent discoveries at the very forefront of science.” There need to be concrete models, and modeling techniques in order to actually make progress in this area. Network theory, cellular automata, and so on, offer different techniques for studying these objects. As the article said, sometimes this talk of 'self-organizing' is more in the line of offering metaphors rather than actually testable hypotheses.