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In search for the Unity of the World as a networked system
- Coupling of Engelbart and Luhmann models

Importance of FLOW in the system:

A system consists of connected parts/components and the flow that runs through the connections to attain the mission. For example, Radio is a system that has many parts connected, and on top of it, the electric current 'flows' to attain the mission of the equipment.

With the same token, it is now appropriate to regard social system as a 'system' that works toward the unity of itself sharing the mission. For example, a family is a system that has its members as the components and the relationships among them is the 'connection'. The communication among the family members is the 'flow'. In the same way, organizations like company, union, country etc. are also systems. In the past we regarded people as the component of those system.

Before the internet, people needed to get together physically to maintain the 'flow', the communication, that is necessary to attain the mission and the unity of the system. So the architecture of the society we have developed is of monolithic and proprietary.

Change of system component from people to communication:

Internet changed the communication situation completely. We are now connected world wide in real time and we do not need to get together physically to maintain the 'flow'. We now can make the flow through the screen in front of us to anywhere in the world. This new space in front of us, what would it be?

Luhmann suggests to me that social system consists of 'communication' ( My superficial understanding convenient to augment Doug Engelbart's ABC/Nic model):

From http://www.leydesdorff.net/montreal.htm :

Luhmann suggested resolving this debate by considering the core concept of symbolic interactionism, that is, the interactive construction of social meaning, as the unit of operation of social systems. Whereas Parsons (1937) had considered action as the unit of the system's operation,

Luhmann's social systems theory thus provides a mirror-image of Parsons's so-called "structural functionalism." The analysis of social structure should not be based on (the aggregate of) action, but on the interactions between actions.

Understanding is necessarily reflexive. The social system as defined by Luhmann exists exclusively at this reflexive level, that is, in terms of expectations. Consequently, the operation of interactive meaning ("Sinn") is claimed by Luhmann as the proper domain of sociological analysis. His social systems theory is a special theory focusing exclusively on human interactions as events. The human being itself is defined outside this domain of sociology as another system of reference; Luhmann attributes this subject to psychology.

Coupling of Social system with Actions based on individual value system:

If it is OK to take individual communication that comes from the individual value system as the component of the social system, then the space in front of our screen is the world wide social system. This 'Social system' excludes human actions as outside the system ( This is very positive in that the 'system' avoids control of people and keeps autonomy of people's daily life).

Then the remaining issue is how to connect this Lumann social system to our actions in our daily life.

The individual's value system for their actions comes from epistemology of the individual that comes from personally developed and structured concepts inside the brain in relation to his/her DNA. Here;

  • Concept belongs to each person to give meaning to his/her life.
  • Each person should be able to act properly/freely according to her/his value system without being controlled by the system, but also needs to realize that he/she can not live alone without being a part of the system they belong to. Thus they are also responsible to maintain the unity of the system.

This means in terms of Doug Engelbarts's ABC model;

  1. Each person has his own value system. It consists of recursive/hierarchical structure of C frames.
  2. This C frame structure leads each person to actions in real life through A/B frames.

Luhmann's social system says 'Social system is communication'. This means to me that only C frame of each person belongs to the system but not AB frames. AB frames of each person is free from the system and keeps its autonomy. This is to me the most important of Luhmann's system model, making only each person's structured concept domain in mind as 'parts' of the system. Then each person has the freedom of daily actions but has the obligation to communicate through the system to attain the unity of the system, society and the world.

If people share a Mission of the overall society, then the individual person will develop action story (A/B frame) toward the social mission recursively organizing C frame structure - the Doug Engelbart's model says that C frame structure is recursively and hierarchically goes down from mission/goal to reality C-BA frame). In the monolithic society of the past before the internet, the 'Goal' we worked was rather of low mission in light of the unity of the world. We now need to elevate it to a Mission that unite the whole world like the aesthetic unity many social scientists now talk about to save the Nature. Here, we are proposing Live-as-a-part-of-Nature as the shared mission. Each individual has its own story and organizing the concepts toward various level of missions, but important thing here is to share them and sustainably communicate and make them a part of Collective IQ of this social 'brain' directly or indirectly.


  1. People and Social System - Engerbart and Luhmann
  2. Toward the implementation of Live-as-a-part-of-Nature
    http://www.abccommunity.org/Toward the implementation of Greener Economy.html


The model described here has been developed by overhearing discussions of sociocybernetics community using Doug Engelbart's Augmentation model and through extensive discussions with John Deneen and Eiichiro Kamiya. Thank you.