Given all of the political upheaval around the world at the moment, much of it fueled or supported through social media and communications technology, it’s no wonder that news outlets are looking for experts to explain what’s happening. There is a Feb. 18th interview on the Wall Street Journal site with social media expert Clay Shirky: http://online.wsj.com/video/facebook-and-twitter-are-changing-the-middle-east/E0BAA515-5056-4F4A-AC5E-C684BADE46CA.html . This seems to have resulted from an article which he wrote for Foreign Affairs: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67038/clay-shirky/the-political-power-of-social-media. These led me back to talks he had done for TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html and http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_on_institutions_versus_collaboration.html.
There have long been discussions about whether systems are “real.” Some take the position that the universe we know is comprised of systems which we discover through recognition. Others claim that systems are only a way of seeing things – a particular set of concepts by which we describe reality, but which are arbitrary and completely subject to the interpretation of each observer.