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10 May 2008

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University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
MAY 11 - 15, 2008

Being held in conjunction with:
The 8th Understanding Complex Systems (UCS) Symposium
"Informatics, Energy and Others"


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CONTEXT for the 2008 ASC Conference

May 11, 2008, will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Biological Computer Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

To commemorate this occasion, the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) and the sponsors and organizers of the Understanding Complex Systems (UCS) symposium series will be holding a pair of parallel events during the period 11 - 15 May:

Our organizations have established a reciprocal arrangement for attending both these conference events.

Registration for one organization's event will entitle you to attend the other event's sessions and vice versa.

THEME for the Conference

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  My Cybernetics / Our Cybernetics

This conference is devoted to cybernetics in its full variety.

For each person who names themselves a cybernetician, an attendant "my cybernetics" is created, informed by her or his study, practice, and experience. Through conversation, "my cybernetics" joins the larger domain of cybernetics as it is studied, practiced, and experienced by other people who name themselves cyberneticians and thus create their own "my cybernetics". These interactions form "Our Cybernetics". During this conference we anticipate hearing many voices and ways of being, and the opportunity to observe the observing system we constitute.

In creating papers and presentations for the conference, we ask participants to tip their hat to our theme of "my cybernetics". Certainly whatever you do will be your cybernetics, but please include an extra loop of observation that examines your own work in the context of cybernetics in the large. And when you participate in the conference, keep examining the nature of cybernetics in relation to your own activity and the activity of others inside and outside cybernetics.

In the view of the organizers, cybernetics is like a Klein Bottle. Its inside is its outside. The process of traveling that strange topology/geography is the process of cybernetics herself.


A Sampling of Cybernetics (to stimulate thoughts toward the 2008 Conference theme ...)

In the public eye cybernetics is often linked with origins in the the design of automated systems and the consequences of interactions of women/men and machines. Contemporary cybernetics began as an interdisciplinary study connecting the fields of control systems, electrical network theory, mathematical logic, stability in biological and engineering systems and neuroscience in the 1940's. Cybernetics expanded through the Macy conferences and other outlets to embrace social systems, Anthropology, general systems theory, psychology, architecture and design. Under the influence of Margaret Mead and Heinz von Foerster, cybernetics turned its light upon itself and became the cybernetics of cybernetics, the cybernetics of observing systems.

As we move back to specific cybernetic societies we find different lines of thought and exploration:

  • The American Society for Cybernetics, closely allied with Heinz von Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory has been concerned with the role of the observer in systems and the understanding of observing systems.

  • Complex Systems Theory groups have emphasized the roles of mathematical modeling and the notion of emergent properties of systems in the presence of process, recursion, and feedback. There are many other viewpoints in this complex adventure in science and epistemology.

  • Many other groups study cybernetics in their own way around the world.

For more background on cybernetics, see:

FORMAT for the Conference Activities

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The 2008 ASC Conference invites a variety of contributions including and not limited to:

  • papers
  • performances
  • displays
  • symposia
  • workshops
  • panels
  • hosted conversations

... relating to the conference as described or to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Biological Computer Laboratory.


Conference Fees
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Proposals for contributions are invited from prospective attendees.

Such proposals should be summarized in writing and submitted to the Conference organizers.

You should send your proposal(s) to both:

Elizabeth Simpson



Louis Kauffman


The submission period for contributions opens on 1 March 2008.

No deadline for submission of contributions has yet been set.

The Conference organizers would appreciate notification of your intention to participate by 15 April 2008.

VENUE for the Conference Activities

The 2008 ASC Conference activities will occur in rooms adjacent to the spaces used by the UCS 2008 Symposium:

141 Loomis Lab
1110 W. Green Street (Green Street & Goodwin Ave)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana IL 61801

Location References:


May 11

  • 1:00-5:00 Preconference: Our Cybernetics
    (facilitated by Larry Richards)
    Loomis Laboratory
    1110 W. Green Street (Green Street & Goodwin Ave)
    Room 139

    This tutorial/workshop structures an opportunity to develop a personal context for cybernetic concepts by asking: how might these concepts inform my desires and my approach to pursuing them?

    The variety of connections and their intersections, as shared by the participants, facilitates a conversation with the potential for moving toward a collective "our cybernetics". This dialogic process circles back to further inform "my cybernetics", offering an individualized platform from which to continue the conversation at other times and places.

  • 7:30-9:30 Our Stories: Cybernetics Now and Then (dedicated to Steve Sloan)

May 12

  • 7:30-8:30 Larry Wexler: Torsotonic Movement

  • 8:30-9:00 The Creative from the Receptive, the Receptive from the Creative: Bagua

  • 9:00-11:00 Glanville / Whitaker: My Cybernetics / Our Cybernetics: A Participatory Exploration (See Note Below ...)

  • 11:00-11:15 Break

  • 11:15-12:00 Paul Weston: To Discover, To Deduce, To Conclude

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-2:30 Archives/Documentation Panel

  • 2:30-3:15 Lucas Pawlik: Systemic Thinking (Bedtime Story of the Second Order)

  • 3:15-3:30 Coffee and Ice Cream Break with UCS

  • 3:30-4:15 John Zelinski:The Department of Peace in Cyberspace, A Societal Application of Cybernetics

  • 4:15-4:30 Break

  • 4:30-5:50 BCL Plenary Session (Ricardo Uribe and Karl Mueller)

  • 5:50-6:20 Pizza Break

  • 6:20-7:30 BCL Panel

  • 7:30-8:00 Break

  • 8:00-10:00 Showing of Monte Grande: What is Life?

    "How is it possible for body and mind to exist as an integrated whole? The Chilean neurobiologist Francisco Varela devoted his entire life - from childhood to death to answering this question.

    Monte Grande's structure is based on Varela's non-linear thinking and focuses on autopoiesis, ethics, consciousness, meditation and dying. The film also includes narrative accounts and reflections from Varela himself, his family (former partners and children), leading scientists, friends and thinkers ..."

May 13

  • 7:30-8:30 Larry Wexler: Torsotonic Movement

  • 8:30-9:00 The Creative from the Receptive, the Receptive from the Creative: Qi Gong

  • 9:00-9:45 Pille Bunnell. Distinctions of Domains and Domains of Distinctions

  • 9:45-10:30 Philip Guddemi: The cybernetics of (manufactured?) ignorance

  • 10:30-11:15 David Apgar: Relevance Finding the Handful of Performance Metrics That Matter

  • 11:15-12:00 Reflection

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-1:45 Andrei Cretu: On Functionality in Linguistic Communication

  • 1:45-2:30 Ranulph Glanville: The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts

  • 2:30-3:15 Rob Scott: Traces left by the School for Designing a Society

  • 3:15-4:00 Reflections (Coffee and Ice Cream)

  • 4:00-5:00 Fay / Glassman: Depth of a Moment: Scoring the Dynamics of "3-Dimensional Time and 1-Dimensional Space" for Movement-Based Theatre

  • 5:00-6:00 ASC Awards and Business Meeting

  • 6:00-7:30 Dinner

  • 8:00-10:00 Performance: The Inside of My Head and Yours

May 14

  • 7:30-8:30 Larry Wexler: Torsotonic Movement

  • 8:30-9:00 The Creative from the Receptive, the Receptive from the Creative: Tai Chi

  • 9:00-9:45 Allena Leonard: VSM Model of Sustainability Coordination

  • 9:45-10:30 Robert Martin: Critturs: A Fable About Circularity

  • 10:30-11:15 Philip Lewin: Nature Loves to Hide

  • 11:15-12:00 Reflection

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-1:45 Lee Worden: New Theoretical Support for the Gaia Hypothesis

  • 1:45-2:30 Larry Richards: Some Ideas Worth Considering

  • 2:30-3:30 Andy Hilgartner: Replacing Our Systemic Madness

  • 3:30-4:00 Reflections (Coffee and Ice Cream)

  • 4:00-6:00 Whitaker / Glanville: My Cybernetics / Our Cybernetics: A Participatory Exploration (See Note Below ...)

  • 6:00-10:00 Dinner and Reception with Alfred Hubler

  • 8:00-10:00 ASC Meeting

May 15

  • 8:30-9:00 The Creative from the Receptive, the Receptive from the Creative

  • 9:00-9:45 Susan Parenti

  • 9:45-10:30 Thomas Fischer

  • 10:30-12:00 Reflections and Closing

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

My Cybernetics / Our Cybernetics ... (Ranulph Glanville / Randall Whitaker)

My Cybernetics / Our Cybernetics
A Participatory Exploration

During a 2-week period prior to the conference an online discussion exercise was held on the CYB-COALITION forum (Yahoo Groups). This online exercise was intended to set the stage for further discussions at the 2008 Conference. Results from the online exercise will be made available to on-site attendees, who will have the opportunity to make their own contributions during the course of the conference.

Each participant in the online discussion was asked to post responses to 3 focal points or issues. The collated contributions (subdivided with respect to the 3 focal points) are now available for review on the ASC website.

The focal topics (and links to the collated pre-conference results) are as follows:

  1. How I Found Cybernetics (i.e., how I became acquainted and engaged with the field or its subject matter)

  2. What Cybernetics Means to Me (i.e., what value or utility I ascribe to cybernetics in my personal and / or professional life)

  3. Description of My Cybernetics (a statement describing cybernetics as you see it)

Reconciling Radical Constructivism with Social Organizations ... (Klaus Krippendorff)

Reconciling Radical Constructivism with Social Organizations as Networks of Conversations and of Stakeholders

Klaus Krippendorff

Owing to an injury (broken foot), Klaus will not be able to join us at the 2008 ASC Conference.

The paper he'd prepared for presentation is available at:

TRAVEL: Information on Getting To and Getting Around Urbana

Conference Fees
How To Register

  Please make your own travel arrangements.

General directions for getting to Urbana-Champaign:

Sources of general visitor information on the 2008 Conference location:

ACCOMMODATIONS: Where to Stay While Visiting Urbana

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NOTE: Spring commencement at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will occur on Sunday, May 11. This means the demand on hotel / motel accommodations will be higher than normal the weekend our 2008 Conference starts.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Historic Lincoln Hotel in Urbana, Illinois at a rate of $85 per night.

Historic Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center
209 S. Broadway Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 384-8800

Room Reservations must be made 30 days prior to the conference.

This means it is recommended that you reserve your room by April 10, 2008.

If you wish to reserve one of these rooms, refer to Group Block Number 249596.

A summary listing of other local accommodations is provided by the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau at:



Two options for meal packages are available through the parallel The 8th Understanding Complex Systems Symposium (UCS 2008) :

  • Speaker Appreciation dinner (Tuesday, 13 May) - $38


  • Four hot lunch buffets (Monday through Thursday, 12 - 15 May) - $31.

If you want to get one or both these meal options, you must register for them (alone) via the UCS conference website, not through ASC.

Here's how to register for the meal options:

  1. Go to the UCS 2008 registration webpage at:

  2. Enter your personal data at the top of the page.

  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to choose your meal options ONLY (under the 'Events' section - select either or both of the 'extra ticket' / 'extra packet' options listed there).

  4. Submit the UCS 2008 registration form using the 'Submit Registration' button at the bottom of the page.


How To Register


American Society for Cybernetics
2008 Conference
Fee Structure

ASC Members


Conference fee only
US$ 110.00
Others (not ASC members)


Conference fee plus ASC membership for 2008
US$ 190.00

Non-member registration fee represents an amount equal to 1 year's ASC dues plus the ASC member conference registration fee.

Non-members will be enrolled as full ASC members for the remainder of the 2008 membership year (through 31 December 2008).


'Student' means full time undergraduate or graduate students.

Conference fee plus ASC student membership for 2008
US$ 35.00

Student registrants will be enrolled as student ASC members for the remainder of the 2008 membership year (through 31 December 2008).

This is a substantial discount; annual student memberships are ordinarily $35.00 by themselves.

Non-Students / Limited Income

This category includes non-students (cf. above definition of 'students') who are retired or earn less than US $30,000 in annual income.

Conference fee only
US$ 50.00

Non-student limited income registrations do not include ASC membership for 2008.

  Registering for the 2008 ASC Conference entitles you to attend the symposium sessions of The 8th Understanding Complex Systems Symposium (UCS 2008) as well as the ASC sessions.


Conference Fees

  Secure online registration (via is being offered for the ASC 2008 Conference.

To register online - CLICK HERE.

If you would like to join ASC prior to registering for the 2008 Conference you can register for ASC membership at Sporg first.

Non-ASC-members (full / waged) and full-time student registrants will automatically be enrolled as ASC members for the remainder of the 2008 membership year (through 31 December 2008).

If online registration is not feasible for you, please contact:

ASC Treasurer Rebecca Hibit

4811 Darlington Lane
Sacramento, CA 95835-2000 USA


  Registering for the 2008 ASC Conference entitles you to attend the symposium sessions of The 8th Understanding Complex Systems Symposium (UCS 2008) as well as the ASC sessions.

WHO TO CONTACT (with questions about the conference)

For general questions about the 2008 ASC Conference, please contact the Conference Coordinators:

Elizabeth Simpson   -  Email:

Louis Kauffman  -  Email:

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2008 Conference

Urbana Illinois