Unintended consequences of constant surveillance, or the transparency paradox

[When] we feel over-observed at work, our performance suffers. This can take two forms. One response is to just do exactly what the watchers want to see. Observers may get compliance, but they won’t get much innovation. We’re just not likely to try something different if we’re being watched to make sure we’re doing our jobs right. Another response, no more to a company’s advantage, is to find ways to hide. Put employees in open offices and they’ll work from home—and feel more productive. Track more data, and they’ll find a way to stay under the radar.

Notes on The Sovereignty Paradox

Do shared norms matter in international relations? Psychic operational closure means we cannot share thoughts; we can only share language. Ideas cannot be shared. Thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc., must be translated into meaningful communication within a social system. Norms are not ideas, but rather expectations.

Mechanistic metaphors–structural insecurity, etc.

Stability, instability, balance, imbalance, structure, etc., are mechanistic metaphors that don’t fit social theory very well. For instance, structural instability is a bad quality in a bridge or tall building, but it’s necessary for autopoiesis to happen. Structural instability, in a social sense as well as a linguistic sense, is generative. Structural instability is a quality of any dynamic, evolving, or “living” thing.

Functional differentiation among Native Americans

The Shawnees traditionally comprised five divisions, or societal clans, each with its own area of responsibility for the welfare of the tribe. The Chillicothe and Thawekila divisions took care of political matters and generally supplied tribal political leaders; the Mekoches were concerned with health and medicine and provided healers and counselors; the Pekowis were responsible for religion and ritual; the Kispokos generally took the lead in preparing and training for war and supplying war chiefs. These divisions were semiautonomous, and their own chiefs, occupied particular towns (often named after the division), and sometimes conducted their own foreign policies with other tribes.

Wicked Problems & Second-Order Science

” The problems that are most in need of interdisciplinary cooperation are
“wicked problems” such as food crises, climate change mitigation, and other resilience and sustainability problems (Klein 2004). Wicked problems are complex problems where there is disagreement on what the problem actually is, there are different interests and different perspectives involved that frame the problem differently, and proposed solutions often contradict each other.”


“Rather, containers change with their contents. To take a simple but non-trivial example, an empty amphora [a tall ancient Greek or Roman jar with two handles and a narrow neck] might weigh five kilos. A full one not only is valued differently; it might weigh 5 or 10 times this, changing who can lift and carry it, how one sails a boat piled high with amphorae, and how likely it is to break if it shifts or falls. In functional terms, it is a different object.”

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