Synergy and Sympoiesis in the Writing of Joint Papers
(The Anticipation within Imagination)
O#o van Nieuwenhuijze
Independent Research Scientist,
Amsterdam, the Netherlands,
Reader in Design Futures, Goldsmith College, University of London,
Synergy, interfacing, anticipation, abduction, memory, creation
The paper asks how we might develop practical methods that would enhance the quality of synergy in the practice of (co-)writing. Co-authorship is an important and common aspect of scientific method, but under-valued. Surprisingly it is seldom described explicitly. For historic reasons science focuses on the outcome of its methods, more than on its methodology itself. Instead of a focus on the object of the description, a study on co-authorship deals with the interaction of the subjects creating the description. Because co-authorship remains under-theorised, it is rarely taught in education institutions. This is unfortunate, as the world faces major problems (i.a. environmental) that are difficult to solve without combining the different perspectives of the specialist professional disciplines that have emerged over the last few hundred years. Collaborative writing is one of the main means to integrate different view points. It is therefore likely to become increasingly important for the synthesis of models, and the development of new modes of practice that are sufficiently comprehensive to deal with highly complex, contingent, emergent, and distributed systems. The study of joint-paper writing helps create understanding for the integration of different perspectives, and views. What is described for the joining of views of authors can be applied to the merging of disciplines of science. This paper proposes that sub-cognitive sensitive personal skills are determinant for the overall outcome. It suggests that the creative space in joint paper writing lies between the authors, rather than within them. This conclusion can be generalised for the results of science as a whole. Because of the interfacing dynamics, by the interplay between the authors, the outcome is determined by the artistic rather than the scientific method: the dynamic itself leads to a result which can be ascertained only after it has been attained. This has relevance for interdisciplinary studies: the underlying intent of a shared outcome determines the result more than the form in which the authors process and present their own ideas. It calls for a deeper understanding of both the mental and social process of creating science.
This paper studies the synergy in writing a joint paper. It describes the attempt of two authors to work both collaboratively and self-reflexively. The subject of their inquiry is the way they come to a shared outcome. It theorises the complex process of interface interactions and mutual boundary (self)management, by which they interact. The paper proposes that the dynamics of the interface transcend their direct personal realisations, and is therefore based on their inductive and abductive reasoning. The outcome is based on their drive towards a common result, and it depends on non-cognitive mental faculties related to the sensitivity of intuiting the as yet unspoken shared intent. The form of the presentation is a consequence, rather than an aim. This makes the process very artistic: only after the product is achieved can it be established.
This reformulates the scientific interaction: instead of a locus of control within a scientist, the outcome of scientific research is based on the interface interplay between all people involved. Together they form a virtual ‘organism’, for which each author is an ‘organ’. This notion can be generalised for the outcome of the findings of science as a whole; by the collaboration of all scientists involved. In the course of this project the authors reflected upon the feed-forward process, preceding the feedback closure that determined the final result. Sub-cognitive faculties of the scientists, normally not addressed in scientific studies, determine the final outcome. This must be negotiated and balanced to conserve the (collaborative) organism’s integrity. Territorial reflexes (in the authors, and the community) thereby are directly contributory to the outcome. This aspect draws upon work on the anticipatory aspects of cognition-imagination (Kant, Peirce, Maturana & Varela, Bateson, Velmans) in the context of Anticipatory Systems (e.g. Riegler, 2001; Chrisley, 2004)
1) The need for synergy
Synergies in co-creation
This paper explores some of the productive synergy in writing a joint paper. For the purposes of this inquiry, the authors note that synergy occurs when authors collaborate and experience surprising insights beyond what each might otherwise achieve alone. The difference in their sameness extends the forms their joint understanding can take. This is neither a compromise nor an amalgamation of viewpoints. None of the participants surrenders their viewpoint; but a new compatible position is found which transcends what each knew before. As in making art, the result cannot be foreseen.
Synergy can be described as the integration of four perspectives:
- the individual viewpoint
- the relationship between the authors
- their inner/inter-action group dynamics
- the new meaning in their joint context of embedding, extending the context of their original meanings.
These are the four aspects of a system as studied in Systems Theory, where 1) the Object, 2) the Relationships, 3) the Conditions and 4) Embedding in Context all need to be simultaneously addressed. All of these aspects come together in the Interface of the Interaction. Because the action in the interaction, the interface, transcends the system (self) definition, the principles at play cannot be described in terms of the knowledge or functioning of either system (cq. the people involved). It requires all involved to extend their awareness beyond their perimeter; this is commonly as anticipation. (Anticipation is a form of mental activity based on perception, inverted as projection. It reflects the past into the future.) Anticipation is part of the mental process of imagination; which is based on our capacities for pattern recognition. Imagination is a two-sided activity: on the one hand it recalls old memories recorded in our body of knowledge, on the other hand it processes this information – digests it – to detect embedded patterns. This is where imagination relates to intuition (the emergent insight of embedded patterns in new forms of realisation). The bridging of the interface requires a different description than that of the fields that lie on either side of it. The same holds for the field, of which the interface itself is based.
A metaphor for the achievement of Synergy can be found in the fusion of two musical notes:
Together they form a new higher harmonic (a new form, allowing for more precise definition) and a new lower harmonic (a new carrier wave that both can share, giving their previous views more meaning, in a more general context). At a practical level this implies that the language they use is subordinate to its meaning. Their personal views are subordinate to a new emerging joint insight. Their individual understanding is regarded in its immergence in collective understanding.
The consequence of Synergy is the emergence of the new common ‘carrier wave’ for the conversation. It also implies a new (larger) common context, in which the views of each of the authors can now be applied. What they already knew, individually, now has acquired extended meaning, valid for both. A virtual boundary that before limited the extent of their understanding has seemingly ‘collapsed’ (cf. collapse of the State Vector). The Event Horizon of their (joint) Consciousness has expanded.
In the metaphor of the merging of the two musical notes, it is the new higher harmonic that determines the new form of the discourse. It offers a new sharper focus on the issues addressed by each of the authors. It thereby leads to a new form, which may differ from what each new before. It is only to be expected that in the bridging of disciplines, new languaging will need to emerge to negotiate the terrain of what was previously the space between them.
This is an important point, as the co-authors of this paper are collaborating on several related levels of inquiry and discovery. Both are researchers within an AHRC and EPSRC funded research project called “Design Synergy in the 21st Century” (ds21). This project explores the potential role of ‘synergy’ within ‘meta-design’. A practical context for this inquiry is a shared interest in the designing of synergistic communities in the future. This quest is inspired by the perceived need to transcend mankind’s global failure to care for the Earth environment in an encompassing manner. In order to resolve this problem we believe we must introduce terms of reference that can integrate the work done at all levels of government, society and business.
Synergy beyond 'sustainability'
The study of Synergy followed out of earlier research regarding “Sustainability”. One of the prime causes for the disintegration of nature (extinction of species, exhaustion of natural resources) lies in analytical thinking. This is by definition de-contextualised, and therefore unable to account for effects beyond its scope of the modelling limitations. The perceived consequences of damage to our context, due to such analytical models, have led to the search for what is known as “Sustainability”. The term is derived from the notion that over-fishing needs to be reduced to a level where a population of fish can self-sustain, i.e. not go extinct. This term evidently cannot be used for non-renewable (non-living) resources such as mineral deposits. For this reason any appeal to the idea of ‘sustainability’ continues to fail, partly because it was conceived as a simple, moral instrument, rather than as a respectful reflection of how Nature works. Its lack of precision was deliberate, for it was an expedient political tool (Brundtland, 1987). In fact the term now most often implicitly means ‘sustainable business’ (UN, 2005) and ‘sustainable consumption’ (UN, 2005), rather than “supportive symbiosis with Earth”. Vernacular use of the term ‘sustainability’ often implies a biased anthropocentric technocratic world view. It is increasingly clear that our analytical scientific society failed to face up to the mounting environmental problems of the last century, and lacks the skills to integrate the complex disciplines of understanding to resolve the interconnected problems in a concerted and holistic approach. The topic of Synergy in Joint-Paper Writing addresses the general principles involved in the form of a straight-forward example.
The integration of different modes of synergy
Many professions have reflected upon their role in addressing environmental problems; as yet without real success. This implies that the solutions are not within any of these specific disciplinary domains. It suggests that the solution is trans-disciplinary: beyond the reach of existing specialist disciplines and discrete practices within technological development, such as engineering, economics, legislation, and design. In fact, the existing problems were generally caused by them, and often the problems are first signalled by other disciplines (e.g. biology indicating the unwholesome consequences of technology.) It can be inferred that these problems might have been prevented if those differing disciplines had worked together. At present the idea emerges that many disciplines are counterproductive when operating separate from other disciplines. Even the different frames of mind, per discipline, has compartmentalised society to the extent that society operates in conflict with itself. (In psychiatry this might be called ‘schizophrenic’.) While governments advocate lowered consumption, advertising insists on higher consumption. In our world in which resources are rapidly becoming scarcer we must quickly learn to do much more with much less. This calls for the integration of seemingly opposite interests. The different perspectives must be combined, integrated, for the conflict to be resolved. Thence the focus proposed in this paper: a shift towards ‘synergy’ instead of ‘sustainability’. The boundaries that separate the disciplines are also the interface where their differences can be bridged. We must learn to interact (interface) in such a way that ‘competition’ is replaced by ‘synergy’ at all levels. (Maximising is thereby replaced by Optimising,) This is an ambitious and long-term aspiration that calls for a new understanding of co-creative functioning. This paper explores that in the form of collaborative research, and collaborative authorship, such as in the writing of a joint paper.
Synergies of Life
In the foregoing it was suggested that the problems we face are the result of analytical thinking; which is held to be independent of any context. This kind of thinking was developed for linear mechanical models. These are, by definition, always invariant, thus dead. Living systems are contextualised always. Their survival depends on effective interfacing with/in their context. The same applies to humanity as a whole. As we all know, it is imperative that our societies learn to become ‘sustainable’ at the practical level of material resources, actions, processes, and machines. This requires an integrated complexity, which puts this beyond the scope of control. It means that any specific problem cannot be resolved without regarding its context of embedding. An example: the average automobile produced in this century has lower emissions and wastes less fuel than before, but more automobiles are produced and as a consequence we are creating more pollution and consuming more fuel than ever before. Similarly, ecologically benign building design may be locally-sourced, and may even require no public services such as water, gas, or electricity. However, if its owner drives long distances to work each day and regularly flies around the globe, then the benefits of living in an eco-house will be cancelled out. Integrative thinking is required: the part as well as the whole need to be considered. The logical frame of reference is therefore the interface, connecting the system with its context. The required operant mode of thinking is not (analytic) Objective but (Integrative) Subjective. This shifts the focus from that of scientific models to social life styles. Research has shown that the societies who have the smallest ecological footprint also have spiritual and cultural values that sustain the ‘style of living’ that produce it. A key feature of these kinds of society is that conflict is reduced to the minimum, because it is potentially wasteful of precious resources and energies. It leads to conclude that synergies at the material levels must be synergized with synergies at the phenomenological, social, cultural, somatic and discursive levels. It makes Synergy itself into a life style.
2) Synergy, Sympoiesis, Syngnosis and Symbiosis
Modes of collaboration
Is it possible to operate our society by the harmonious principles cited for those small cultures? Let is consider social systems in terms of their differences in constraints of mutuality and potential. (Fairclough, 2005). The interface between a closed system and open system can be characterised in terms of the boundary transition between them. (It is this interfacing condition that needs to be understood to relate e.g. one discipline or author to another) This can be interpreted as four levels of possible collaboration as ranked by their value to the society for which, and in which, they operate.
For the purpose of enhancing the perspective of the interface – to study and understand it in more detail – the activity of interfacing is described by adding the terms of Sympoiesis and Syngnosis.
Synergy has already been described as the energy that is liberated by the sharing of a carrier waves when two systems align to engage in common process.
Sympoiesis extends the notion of Autopoiesis (Maturana & Varela, 1980), which is the dynamic self-organisation of a dynamic system, essential for the ability for living systems to rebuild themselves.
Syngnosis is a technical term to describe the notion of consensus and group think: in order to interface inanimate objects, a matching of their border dynamics often suffices. In living beings (determined by internal freedom of choice) the system singularity settings need to be compatible and matched. This requires that the mental processes are compatible and matched also. Evidently this needs to account for the ever present freedom of choice in each involved person. Syn-gnosis described this mental attunement, including and beyond the levels of conscious/cognitive awareness.
Symbiosis is the standard term for the mutual co-operating living of life forms, in which the presence of the one supports the existence of the other. The work of Lynn Margulis is recommended to realise the implications.
Aside from describing the aspects of the interfacing it is relevant to have terms for the relationships between the field that are joined by the interface. Traditionally these are describe as singular (separate), concatenated, nested and embedded. In a universe these terms are relative always: every (singular) closed system is by definition part of the open system, in which it thus must be embedded. The definitions (of the system boundary) therefore reflect an observer bias; they describe the way in which the observer relates to the observation. This creates a leverage by which the participation in the context is defined. It is this notion (of variation in involvement) which is elaborated in this paper. By having a choice in our participation, we affect the interaction and effectuate changes in the outcome. This can be made explicit in terms of different modes of interaction:
- Predator (disadvantaging each another in pursuing exclusive selfish advantage)
- Parasitic (high dependency on the fitness of one, rather than both partners)
- Synergetic (mutually supportive collaboration; system interaction)
- Symbiotic (mutual optimisation of synergy; systemic embedding)
The focus of each of these aspects of interfacing is on, respectively,
- the object
- the process
- the interaction
- the integral outcome
The notion presented here is not a shift from Objective to Subjective, but a transcendence of the inter-subjective to achieve a meta-subjective: a standpoint that is of advantage to all persons/beings involved. The same four facets that are identified above for the system interface can be used also to acquire more understanding of each of the above levels of system embedding. In seeking to develop the idea of ‘design synergy’ we propose the following orders of synergy:
First Order Synergy - Invariant.
Synergies within an environment that, in comparison with ecological systems, is informationally inert, and in which the key parties or elements benefit from the shared situation, whilst contributing to shareable benefits unknowingly.
Second Order Synergy - Variable
Synergies within an environment that, in comparison with ecological systems, are informationally alive, and in which the key parties or elements benefit from, and intelligently contribute to, the shareable benefits of the situation.
Third Order Synergy - Interactive
Synergies whose distinctive features are sustained by information-sharing capabilities that can modify or inform the self-identity of some of the participants; and in which the key parties or elements benefit from, and knowingly contribute to, the shareable benefits of the situation.
Fourth Order Synergy - Integrative
Synergies whose distinctive features are sustained by information-sharing capabilities that can modify or inform the self-identity of both individual and collective features of the participants; and in which the key parties or elements benefit from, and knowingly contribute to, the shareable benefits of the situation.
Re-Designing Design as a Superset of Itself (hyper-incursion)
The ds21 project asks whether a discourse of ‘deep synergy’ might bring about a more enlightened approach to the design of eco-centric systems ‘living-styles’, governance, and ways of being and becoming. This will also require us to devise new professional practices because, at present, designers, planners, architects, technologists, etc. are too specialised for orthodox modes of ‘meta-design’ to be able to operate at a sufficiently collaborative and interdependent level of thought-action. Here, the idea of ‘meta-design’ is symptomatic of the perceived need for a discourse and methodology that will encompass systems of an exceedingly complex and volatile nature. Here, ‘meta-design can be seen to include the design of the design process itself. It can also stand for a trans-disciplinary mode of design that combines and integrates different design fields and practices in a flexible and reflective manner. (Giaccardi, 2005). In our environmentalist context we may inform these definitions by asking how designers can redesign the way they design in order to ‘un-manage’ the self-sustaining nature of Nature?
The integration of different modes of synergy
Here, we may consider the comprehensiveness of appropriate knowledge and skills to be a kind of ‘wisdom’ that is probably too complex and emergent to be representable in an enduring form. (Any form will always need to change in adaptation to an ever changing context.) The high level of knowledge and skills required to achieve this make the practices of collaboration vitally important. Nor is it likely to be consciously comprehensible by individuals because the dynamics of our interfacing, our interaction with/in our context, and our embedding (oneness) with Earth is operated by respectively sub-conscious, unconscious and beyond-conscious reflex levels. The importance of a co-creative approach is clear, since the problems to be addressed are beyond effective remedy unless the remedy is highly imaginative, entrepreneurial, and multi-dimensional. (This puts our experienced involvement at the level of what is known as Art, rather than what is called Science.) Unfortunately, most scientists and designers are trained as specialists. As such, they may find it hard to communicate and collaborate creatively with others for who the discourse is far from clear. Equally importantly, there needs to be a ‘synergy’ of communicable ideas within, and beyond the team itself. In addition, there also needs to be a synergy of actions and decisions between these first two levels.
Towards a 'synergy of synergies'
The problem of co-authorship is therefore a long-underestimated aspect of design for complexity. It is, at least, symbolically and symptomatically related, not only to the need for ‘synergies’ at the level of food and energy production, but also in terms of interpersonal and trans-disciplinary relations. (Not only between human beings, but also all life forms on Earth.) Richard Buckminster Fuller (1975) has referred to the notion of a ‘synergy of synergies’ in which different modes of synergy are able to ‘synergise’ with one another. Hence, where physicists and metallurgists can work at a low order of (physical) synergy to produce synergistic alloys such as nano structured ‘gum metal’ (Saito & Toyota, 2003), we may need to understand much more about the higher orders of synergy that we find in living organisms, in which the embedding in the context operates at more, and more complex, layers and scales.
It is surprising that there is no single, clear definition of synergy beyond that of a rudimentary notion that the totality of factors within a ‘whole’ usually exceeds the combined sum of its parts. In reality, the synergy we seek will need to operate as an ecological system. The term 'Synergy' describes the energy that is liberated by process-sharing of separate systems. The idea of liberating energy is attractive to anyone concerned by the increasingly conspicuous and profligate waste of energy that we have witnessed over the last few hundred years of industrial development. By connecting up, the share the same interface, due to which the interfacing energies can – under appropriate conditions – be combined, and thereby reduced for each system. Also, some of the energies related to the integration of the separate sub-systems into the shared context can be condensed, and thereby reduced. This is the case in general, but of particular interest in living organisms which are characterised by the ability to change their internal degrees of freedom. This involves dimensional changes of state, corresponding with differences in the operational logic.
Practical guidelines for synergy
The paper seeks to integrate two different traditions of practice in an outcome that satisfies the authors' conditions for synergy:
- of a quality that may be higher than the best work by either author
- embodies emergent qualities or outcome that are surprising/unpredictable to both authors
- remains recognisable at a generic level to both authors
- connects/integrates richly with interests outside the collaborative task itself
Sympoiesis and Symtechnesis
Although, at the (meta)physical level (Bohm, 1980), there is no fundamental distinction between theory and practice, the practice of distinguishing between these two levels is common and can often be helpful, even if we need to 'co-synergise' them afterwards. The ds21 project has adopted the above terms to differentiate between synergising at the level of 'sympoiesis' (i.e. the spontaneous and/or unplanned act of co-creation; a ‘falling into place’) and at the level of 'symtechne' (The planned and orchestrated act of co-creation). The latter involves and intentional use of freedom of choice to achieve the synergetic effect. This calls for a purposeful alignment of what (above) has been compared to the establishing of the ‘carrier wave of the system’, common ground for the interaction. This involves interactions at the level of the identity, the relationships, the interaction, and embedding.
In our organic being these are processed by different reflex levels. Our conscious choices (in our head) operate at a different level than the subconscious motivations at the level of relationships by reflex, the heart level. At a deeper level still we function by unconscious reflexes that determine our interactions with/in our context. As the deepest level our cells operate by natural reflexes that determine the embedding of our body in our natural context.
From the perspective of our body biology we can classify these reflexes as our respectively human, animal vegetative and mineral nature. In terms of interaction with our context they refer to the inventor, explorer, communicator and constructor.
In developing some practical approaches to the development of tools for meta-design, the authors - in collaboration with 12 other ds21 researchers - developed a system that offered specific roles for each of four inter-communicating teams. The teams met in order to co-draft a document that explores aspects of co-design within meta-design. This is the emergent level that can appear when the boundaries in the system are resolved. This is found not in the juxtaposition of the four aspects of the boundary, but by their integration, which implies a dynamic. Relevant in this dynamic is that all facets reflect and uphold each other. This is where the notion of synergy stands central: the interfacing boundaries are dissolved, when the participants transcend their own self-definition and limitations in supporting each other (symbiosis). This calls for imagination and anticipation (i.e. resolution of the shared pattern of understanding and shared functional dynamic). In the ds21 project the work group was asked to operate in four groups, each of which represented one of the four aspects of boundary integration. Within the context of this project they were called:
- Pushing and doing (object level)
- Communication (interaction level)
- Visioning (relationship level)
- New knowing (origination level)
The above categories were devised as a practical way to enable the most effective collaboration with a variety of designers and others with a very wide range of different types of knowledge, skills, and temperaments. In working with this model we came to re-think the categories within the context of how the body organises itself. The rationale is that all aspects of the interface (of the interaction) need to be addressed, thus represented. It implies that the different reflex levels by which we function all need to be appropriately addressed. Thus sensed by the people involved.
An obvious problem of trying to integrate 'head reasoning' with less rational modes of reasoning is that the two systems appear to have a clear boundary distinction between them that cannot be interpolated reliably. This is because, for one thing, we tend to assume that only 'rationality' is 'reasonable'. Some recent research has suggested that testosterone/oestrogen tends to impede the connectedness between 'head reasoning' and more emotional modes of judgement. Secondly, we may overlook the possibility that Pythagoras was misguided, and that, even if the internal consistency of numbers was absolute (c.f. Gödel), that we cannot depend on their correspondence to the 'external' world. Given the differences it is remarkable how we manage to inhabit contradictory language systems with apparent success. Perhaps it accounts for our tendency, as humans, to impede, damage, and eradicate one another on a depressingly habitual basis. It is necessary to learn to integrate these levels of functioning as they operate within our being:
- Head reasoning (objective perspective)
- Heart reasoning (experience of relating)
- Gut reasoning (sensation of interaction)
- Sense reasoning (awareness of shared being)
The assumption that we reason 'in the head' is long established within western belief systems. It is an idea that has evolved and refined since the pre-Socratics, probably because of a strong hope, or belief, that 'truth' (in Greek: aletheia) is isomorphic with 'reality'. The word 'rational' derives from the Latin word for (equal) measurement, so in rational reasoning we appear to have an internally-consistent mode of logic. Arguably, the most revered version of this belief is the Pythagorean mode of rationality in which numeracy (quantity) is seen as virtually synonymous with the world itself. We are familiar with syllogistic modes of reasoning in forms such as deductive reasoning, or Boolean algebra, etc. These are forms that are characterised by a high level, or even an absolute certainty within their own terms.
At the height of the Enlightenment era - the 'Age of Reason' – a mathematician called Blaise Pascal had the insight that "the heart has reasons that reason cannot know" (1670). If we are to take this seriously we might begin to look for a logic of the heart. What might this mean? Perhaps it relates to the emotional modes of reasoning, or what Payne (1985) and Goleman (1995) termed 'emotional intelligence'. Michael Polanyi's (1958) term 'tacit knowledge' may be a similar idea, although the word's etymology suggests that it is more to do with the sense of 'touch' than with the 'heart'. His term has subsequently been used to describe aspects of reasoning that enable us to see things more holistically. Polanyi asserted that all knowledge is tacit 'if it rests on our subsidiary awareness of particulars in terms of a comprehensive unity'. Tacit knowledge is therefore deeper than we know because we cannot grasp it fully. Neither can it be discussed in a conscious and explicit way. This can be illustrated by the way that doctors deal with a complex condition like an illness. Many people have criticised (western) medical practice when it appears to base diagnosis and cure on only a handful of seemingly disconnected indicators (e.g. rash, temperature, vomiting, fever) rather than using an inclusive, broadly comprehensive map. Polanyi (1969) describes a doctor's skill in diagnosing disease by its 'physiognomy'. In explaining this he quotes Immanuel Kant who coined the term "unformalizable powers", and who spoke of "an art hidden in the depth of the human soul".
More associated with a strong sense of conviction that is, usually, not endorsed by a more rational explanation, 'gut reasoning' is difficult to describe.**. However, it would seem that Diogenes (412-323 BCE), who was the first of the Cynics, appeared to work from a kind of 'gut logic',
- Who you are
- what you do
- How you do it
- where you want to go
Wolff Olins, (1999) The New Guide to Identity, University of Cambridge, UK
At the most basic level our functioning is based on the vital dynamics of our cells; and the way they form part of our natural context (via an extended development of a series of living organisms of which development we are all part).
Some theoretical considerations
Synergy can also be described as the coupling of four perspectives:
- the several individual viewpoints
- the relationship between the authors
- their inner-inter-action dynamics
- the meaning within their joint context
Each perspective may be characterized by a particular ‘language’ of description. Synergy cannot be attained if the form of the conversation is let to prevail over its essence: the intended aim. This puts the basis of synergy at the interplay of the ontological, existential and epistemological levels. The synergy emerges at the fourth empirical level, due to what can be called ‘sympoiesis’. It means that synergy cannot be created by any specific action; other than that all participants remain in contact with the less tangible underlying shared intent. This enables them to maintain their own perspectives whilst (self)regulating a ‘common carrier wave’, or wave coincidence? to enfold the distinct ‘wavelengths’ of all participants. This joint system transcends that of each system element. Because the system synergy is not based on the components but on their interaction, structural coupling (shared meaning) can be regained after losses caused by (individual) misunderstandings.
Correlations between different modes of synergy
In physics, a corresponding principle is known as the collapse of the state vector. In the domain of human interaction and understanding this change of logic is called a change of paradigm. In synergy, different operational states play simultaneous roles. In human interaction, synergy includes different modes of understanding (paradigms). The following addresses the application of synergy in the more general situation: including human involvement. Therefore the following description addresses 'synergy' not only from an objective perspective, but deals also with the particulars of subjective involvement. Part of the description therefore focuses on the changes of internal (processing) states – as is relevant in living beings; and the changes in awareness by which they can be monitored and modified. Synergy involves the internal energy states, as a result of a change in interfacing with/in the context. For this reason synergy cannot be imposed for living organisms. They are always able to change their internal degrees of freedom, if not, they die.
The synergy of collaboration
The attainment of synergy therefore requires communication. Here, the transfer of information by which the internal degrees of freedom are affected to a more general shareable state. Synergy requires the appreciation of uniqueness: one of the aspects of synergy is that the joint-system can do more than each component alone. The added value stems from the combination of more, and different points of perspective and unique possible states of being. By synergy, the system as a whole becomes more complex – has more possible states of being – due to which it can interface with a much more wide variation of possible contexts. The presented tools for Synergy therefore address 4 aspects:
None of the participants surrenders their viewpoint; but a new compatible position is found which transcends what each knew before. As in making art, the result cannot be foreseen. Synergy can be described as the coupling of four perspectives:
- the individual viewpoint
- the relationship between the authors
- their inner/inter-action group dynamics
- the new meaning in their joint context of embedding, extending the context of their original meanings.
Each person has their own ‘language’ to describe their realisation of reality. Synergy is the term used to describe the energy that is liberated by the condensation of meaning due to their joint insights.
This requires that the essence of the conversation (its aim) is let to prevail over the form. This puts the basis of synergy at the interplay of the ontological, essential, existential and epistemological levels. In the interaction between the authors four levels of awareness play a role; each of these involves a different level of consciousness. Personal insights are realised at a conscious level, and communication between the authors takes place mainly via subconscious reflex habits. The attunement between the authors is based on yet deeper unconscious reflex patterns. And the meaning of the conversation itself (its relevance for the general context) is based on reflex patterns that operate beyond our consciousness (because they are the basis on which our consciousness is founded.)
The synergy emerges at the fourth empirical level (the embedding in the joint context), due to what can be called ‘sympoiesis’. It means that synergy cannot be created by any specific/intentional action. The mayor part of the interaction takes place as a result of reflexes (communication, interaction, being) and is therefore beyond thought (but sensed as feelings, as desires, or as ‘reality’). It means that the cognitive content of the joint paper writing is carried by feelings at deeper levels of interaction than that of the academic discourse. It requires that all participants remain in contact with the feeling of the less tangible underlying shared intent. This enables them to maintain their own perspectives whilst (self)regulating a ‘common carrier wave’, or wave coincidence? to enfold the distinct ‘wavelengths’ (‘tones’) of all participants. The joint system therein transcends each personal system. Because the system synergy is not based on the content/components but on their interaction, structural coupling (shared meaning) can be regained at this deeper level (the shared intent of desired outcome) after losses caused by (individual) misunderstandings.
The synergy of collaboration
To attain synergy therefore requires communication: the transfer of information by which the internal degrees of freedom are affected to a more general shareable state. Synergy requires the appreciation of uniqueness: one of the aspects of synergy is that the joint-system can do more than each component alone. The added value stems from the combination of more, and different points of perspective and unique possible states of being. By synergy, the system as a whole becomes more complex – has more possible states of being – due to which it can interface with a much more wide variation of possible contexts. The presented tools for Synergy therefore address 4 aspects:
- Personal Realisation (inside of the interface)
- Interpersonal Attunement (the inside of the interface)
- Transpersonal Awareness (interfacing the interface)
- Integral Functionality (embedding the interface)
3) An example of synergy
One of the unforeseen examples of Synergy in the writing of Papers emerged at the CASYS conference itself, where this paper was presented. Rather than addressing intentional synergy, it illustrates group synergy, as a result of a development of the field of research.
Synergy in Science - pattern recognition in conference contributions
In Ličge, the conference CASYS 2005 brought together insights of a kind most people are unaware of; and few are willing to accept. (Faster than light. Mathematics of consciousness. Multiple dimensions of time.) Yet it is this kind of science that not only shifts the boundary of our understanding, but also reconnects science with consciousness, and life. Shifting the interface – as explored in this paper – is a central concept. The following shows how many people individually work on research that – by their presentations – can be seen to be part of a collective effort. The following is presented here to point out that there is a coherence between the seemingly separate presentation, suggesting that a latent synergy is at work; which may be brought out and enhanced when raised to a conscious level and applied with intention. The “writing of joint papers” might be one of the ways towards this.
(These finding of unpremeditated coherence between the conference presentations are presented in anecdotal form.)
- Dimensional Space
1) One of the basic shifts is that of the inclusion of Dimensions in the considerations. This is where realities emerge, or cease to exist. Shipov presented his model of 3 connected Torsions (a.k.a spinors, vortices or chakras). Intriguing, but not mentioned, in this approach is that 3 vortices together engender a 4th. Together they create a system where right and left, top and bottom, front and back can be in balance: and turn inside-out. This is the basis of a Dimensional Pulse. (A notion which is so alien to many that few are willing to take this idea into account.)
2) In the conference there were 3 others dealing with this issue.
Bernard Diaz proposed a formulation for a Dimensional Point. (A “Gabor Point”). It is a point in which a Dimensional shift can take place. It is also a point in which the reality as a whole can turn inside out. As Diaz pointed out, such a point can be as simple or as complex as you like. In fact, any point in any space can be a dimensional point; in fact, is a dimensional point. But this can be realised only when this point is used for a dimensional shift, which requires conscious involvement. Without that, the point is a normal natural point in the space of observation; not a point of creation. Realised as a point of creation, it can open one or more dimensions; as much as you care to consider. Which means that the Dimensional Operator, D, is at the same tome a scalar, a Gabor Point, a Gabor Vector, or a Gabor Matrix of any, N, dimensions.
3) John Conway in a way addressed the same issue. He too looked at the interface of creation, and showed that it is our involvement that leads to the distinctions that we know of. In his approach, the number zero is the starting point of all numbers; of all kinds. Because zero is the interface where we make our distinction. This relates to the work of Spencer-Brown? and others: once you make a distinction, you change your realisation. For Conway this leads to a systematic unfoldment of different forms of involvement, the interface of discernment seen as a fractal, and as a result the complete system of Surreal Numbers. This is where the discernment of qualities are the logical basis of the quantities that can thereon be defined.
4) Peter Rowlands had the more elaborate description, of the way the Dimensional Unfoldment can be interpreted in a more encompassing sense. Shipov’s Dimensional Pulse, Diaz’s description of the Dimensional operator, D. Conways addition of the different qualities that ensue from this unfolding perspective of involvement, come together in the operations of the nilpotent operator of Dirac, in the work of Peter Rowlands. In this approach, our degree of involvement is actually seen in the way it reflects as different degrees of manifestation. For example: when we immerse in the discernment between differences in logical organisation, our entrainment in the process dynamic is experienced as the ‘emergence’ of an added material density dimension in the equations. (Such as when fermions and bosons are discerned.)
These forms of description are related to other notions.
1) What Shipov presented as the triple torsion vector, Jean-Pierre Garnier-Mallet showed as the relationship between the other representation of the same: the involvement of the 3 real time dimensions. Time is a perspective on process, which depends on a characteristic form of dynamic involvement. As a result, subjective and objective observations do not match, in time. This leads to a need to integrate the two perspective, which is experienced as a time acceleration, at the moment that the different perspectives are seen from an integral understanding.
2) Uri Fidelman dealt with the equivalent of Diaz’ presentation, but now also in Time: Where Diaz described the Dimensional Operator, Fidelman described that likewise we need to account for a multidimensional time. This is evident: when any point in any space can be an emergent Gabor Pont, than that point (and its time perception: the spinor rotation) will be multidimensional also, as described for the D-operator above. This means that any dimensional point can be a fulcrum for any. Many, processes of emergence (or immergence). This was described in the concept of Dimensional (de)Compression.
3) Susie Vrobel described the equivalent of the presentation of Conway: where he addressed the fractal nature of the interface of perspective, she described it as the fractal nature of time. In a complex system, such as the cells of a living body, each cell has its own time frame, yet all of those are connected. To address time as a fractal construct is a logical reflection of the way all these time domains (and their root formulation as spinors) are all interconnected. This was described in the 4D of time.
4) In a more abstract mode the relationship between different degrees of involvement and different formulations of time, as system of organisation, was described by Winkler. His formulation could as yet be made much more explicit, if for the relationship between subjective and objective realisation the model of Rowlands were used. Schempp had in fact in his own way done this, by showing that the Heissenberg Uncertainty is resolved when the interface of observation is coupled to the observing observer. As a result, the Collapse of the State Vector does not take place, but the interface of temporal unfoldment can be followed, in its own fractal (de)acceleration (dimensional (de)compression) and the probabilistic uncertainties also are resolved, by the need to make no distinction. In a parallel to the model of Conway: all surreal numbers thereby become real. This is the dynamics of Realisation, which Schempp used for enhanced imaging in MRI devices.
Meta-design in conferencing
The conference likewise brought out the similar integration of perspectives for Energy and Consciousness (which will not be discussed here). It shows that humans implicitly function in the ‘organic mode’ mentioned above. We are all ‘cells of the body of humanity’, and in working towards the goal of the whole bring out different aspects of that integral process. By this, seemingly separate (conference) contributions are interconnected. This study points out that there is benefit is realising that this takes place, and to enhance this by adding mutual support to the standard conference practice of personal presentation. This calls for a more integrative perspective on conference co-ordination, for which the concept of meta-design, mentioned above, has practical use. The next brief section presents some instruments that already exist by which this mutual support may be attained.
4) Tools for collaboration.
At present many tools for collaboration exist as part of the Internet; the communication system for human consciousness. Many of these existed prior in different forms. Some examples are:
- e-mail; the equivalent of writing letters and postcards. (It is generally found that in the email browser people write the equivalent of ‘post cards’; and read their mail in the context of many other emails. For writing the equivalent of ‘letters’ most often the text is composed in a text editor and sent as “attachment”.)
- e-telephony: essentially the same as telephony, the internet is used for the communication cables.
- Websites: since the emergence of bulletin boards, forms of web publishing have come into existence which are increasingly interactive. A Web site is open for reading only (preacher model), a Web log (Blog) for statements and response (teacher model), and a Wiki which is fully interactive.
- Collaboration software exists in different kinds. Based on the electronic agenda (personal data organisers), there are shared agenda’s for web sites, editing change trackers built into text editors, mail newsgroups and forums and software by which group members share the same information across time and space, and cross-platform (for different kinds of computers). (An example: www.groove.net.)
As with all tools, their effect depends on how they are used. It is the commitment of the participants to the project, and their time and energy investment that determines if and how the collaboration leads to success.
It is the development of tools like these that will allow the internet (the neural net of humanity) to start to serve as a system for synergy to support symbiosis. In the DS21 project a Wiki Web has been set up to explore and foster this potential (www.attainable-utopias.org). Tools like this will need to accommodate for the communication of feeling and intuition, the ‘wavebands’ beyond the cognitive communication, to allow for trans-disciplinary integration.
Trans-disciplinary understanding seems essential for overcoming the shortcomings of analytical thinking; of which planetary pollution and resource exhaustion are examples. The limitations of separate disciplines can be overcome by joining the perspectives of different scientific models; e.g biology and technology. This however requires a form of understanding and communication which transcends the specific models of the separate disciplines. The study of the writing of a Joint Paper serves as example for exploring the concepts involved. It makes clear that this requires a redefinition of the Interface – the definition of the disciplines involved. As a result the joint process is co-ordinated not from the locus of control of each participant, but by a new virtual persona that is composed the input of each of the group members, on the interface of their interaction. This involves the same shifts in consciousness (i.e. brain wave patterns) as found in our natural sleep cycle. This can be described as the change of authority, in which each group member serves as organ for a new organism that transcends all people involved. Each person simultaneously functions as autonomous authority, and as equal with all others. This opens the way for synergy. Synergy can be defined as the energy that is released when different wave systems resort to using a common carrier wave. The energy they all invest in creating the carrier wave (their connection into their context) is reduced and becomes available to the system. This can be modelled in the metaphor of the playing together of two musical notes: their common lower harmonic represents the common carrier wave, and the extension of the old knowledge into a larger context. Their joint higher harmonic reflects the new ability for clearer discrimination and understanding. This model also helps bring out how in the writing of joint papers (or the joining of disciplines of science) new insights emerge that were previously unforeseen; while at the same time deeper understanding can be reached which generalises previous knowledge into new domains of application. The wave model helps clarify another issue: the new insight and its extended meaning (the higher resp. lower harmonic) operate at different frequencies than the musical notes (personal knowledge) of the people involved. This relates to the different states of conscious awareness in the interaction. Although the conversation of the content of the joint paper takes place at the level of words and symbols, the process of integration of perspectives does not. As was mentioned, the emergence of new insight follows the method of Art. The product is the outcome of a process. It is the level of personal feeling and commitment that guides, respectively, the drive towards a new common understanding, and the corresponding deepening of insight (the lower harmonic). Likewise, the (higher harmonic) new insights emerge and are beyond the scope of the original understanding. New insight and extended validity of meaning are the natural outcome of the integration of disciplines. The process is only in part conscious and cognitive; for a greater part it is based on intuition and a feeling of connectedness with the potential of the overall outcome. This can be described as: the locus of control of the process lies not in the people involved, but in the virtual space between them. This puts the focus on the interface, and interfacing, where a different logic applied (expressed by abstraction and abduction). Although the model of the merging of musical notes is helpful, it is yet too mechanical to understand the real merits of this concept. In living organisms, the ‘organs’ themselves can adapt, leading to a much wider range of adaptation and integration. This is also the basis for a yet more enhanced version of synergy: symbiosis. In this approach all involved realise the benefit of functioning together, and thereby strive to support each other. It is the fostering of the wellbeing of the others that enhances the wellbeing of the collective which optimises the wellbeing of each being involved. It is this interplay between the individuals, the relationships between them, and the grouping this forms which explains how cells function as organs in a body of a species. For humans this implies the need to realise that we function as individuals, as a society, as humanity, as one of many life forms on Earth; and that enhanced symbiosis is a means to achieve our optimal potential. The exercise of writing a joint paper brings out that the attunement of feed-forward (and anticipation) and feedback (and realisation) takes place at different levels: the cognitive aspect of personal views and ideals is critical for personal understanding; but for the expansion of insight and validity of this understanding it is necessary to transcend personal limitations. This requires the ability to trust feelings and intuition. Feelings, for the sub-conscious attunement to the others involved, and the intended shared outcome. Intuition for the acceptance of new insight, of theretofore unknown understanding. This principle of transcending one’s own limitations is not a common field of study in science (which most often is focused on affirming definitions). Yet it is crucial in resolving the limitations of particular models (and thereby distinct disciplines of science). This study on writing a Join Paper point out ways to resolve this, and shows that there is an increasing array of (internet) tools by which such trans-disciplinary science integration can be achieved. In the given example it is seen that such integrative collaboration can take place intentionally (as shown in this study) or unintentionally (as shown in the relatedness between topics in the conference where this study was presented).