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Systems theory needs a practical structure: Project Universalis
Posted by: Kevin (
Date: November 30, 2005 09:32AM

In the early days of the internet, during the sixties, originally 4 universities were connected with each other through the internet.

Now, 40 years later, all universities are connected to the internet but none of them are using it to realise the original idea.

Using universities as a backbone, there should be one website that connects the whole. F. Heylighen at the VUB and others, are working towards a Global Brain (, but that is not what I mean - though it could evolve towards that way.

This is the tool that should enable one to surpass its own academic borders and join others in multidisciplinary discussion groups. If you view all current knowledge as a system similar to the brain, then it is in a bad shape. There is simply not enough efficient communication between the different parts. As long as this is not established, what is it that we hope for? Many scientific topics require a new generation of "homo universalis" but this is almost made impossible: There is too much information scattered around in different journals, e-journals, books, people's minds, etc. and the education is not aimed towards this holistic vision.

Universities should start a project in which current scientific knowledge is bundled through one weblink. All students, instructors and researchers, gain access through a login and password as given by their institution. CMS or WiKi should be used to promote change rather than stase. Discussion groups will be easily created through an advanced forum, making it possible for any student/professor/etc. from any branche to enroll in it and share ideas, documents (.pdf, .word, .mov), send a PM to anyone there, check the profile (homepage) of all participants.

The way is see it, a handful of universities start this project. As time proceeds and the site runs smooth, more and more institutions are realising that they should join - they simply will have to in orde to keep pace.

One should also be able to publish papers electronically. I think there should be peer-review but not as strict as in journals. New ideas should be given oxygen to breathe. In the long run, paper journals will simply loose their status - People working there should be put on Project Universalis as the amount of papers online will probably ascent greatly.

This could be our only hope to change anything. The future demands people that are not only intelligent, but that can also communicate their ideas with others. In a way, this could be the era of the socials sciences.


Re: Systems theory needs a practical structure: Project Universalis
Posted by: Kevin (
Date: December 01, 2005 01:28PM

It should be the total opposite of this dead forum.

Older and younger [was: Systems theory needs a practical structure: Project Universalis]
Posted by: daviding (Moderator)
Date: December 11, 2005 12:42PM

There's an interesting tension between the older and younger participants in systems theory.

The oldest generation (e.g. probably those 60 years and older, including most of the luminaries) are not very web-savvy. We consider ourselves fortunate that they're using e-mail, because their preferred method of communication is probably the telephone. Some are more active than others in communicating electronically, but they're not really part of the web generation. They do use the web browsers, but are more comfortable with the Internet as a place to view static content.

The youngest generation (e.g. 25 years and under) view e-mail as antiquated, and have migrated to using instant messaging. They're comfortable in the world of blogs and wikis.

This forum is a bridge between the two. Forum or BBS technology is far from new. In some respects it's one step beyond e-mail, because it's multi-user. On the other hand, it really requires people who are willing to move beyond an e-mail one-to-one communication pattern, into a one-to-many pattern.

The difference between ForumsISSS and the wiki at ProjectsISSS is that on this forum, each individual posts his or her own content, and therefore "owns" his or her words. On ProjectsISSS, there's a free opportunity to write over someone else's content. (We have moderators who watch for abuse, though).

Perhaps over time, ForumsISSS will be an artifact of the past. It was conceived as one part of the ISSS web site, circa 2002 (first using alternate technologies, and then settling on the current platform circa 2003). From an administration perspective, it's low maintenance, so it will probably remain a "resource for action" that members may choose to use or not use.

David Ing

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