Saturday, January 14, 2006

You are Here pt II.

One thing I wanted to mention following the techno-socio-ecological system was a practical aspect. It occurred to me for quite a while, but has now been clarified, that the idea of zero-sum vs non-zero-sum games is... lacking. The extent to which a game is or isn't so is affected largely by where you set the boundary. The idea of various systems as being zero-sum or negative-sum usually takes a very narrow definition of who or what is affected - socio-economics usually focus on welfare of individuals, for instance, while the technical rationality viewpoint (naturally) centres on technology. The problem comes when you assume that these boundaries are all there are.

By giving a more contextual system approach, the boundaries can be extended. By assuming that "we" are not necessarily just a collection of individuals, but a collection of individuals, agreements, tools and environments, borders get fuzzy and the effects of action A on the entire system can be understood more readily. In other words, what we may think of as positive-sum in one "aspect" of the system may really be zero-sum across the entire system. We may be technically and materially better off, but what makes us happy, what makes us societal, and what makes us live may be worse.

Obvious? Yes, possibly. Realised and taken into account? Generally not.

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