Affordable Housing and Complexity

My friend Eric invited me to come to an Isaiah meeting at Westwood Luthern church last night. He’s been working with the group for the past few years on a bunch of different issues, including affordable housing. The meeting began with two introductory presentations about the problem of affordable housing. The message is pretty simple to state: the current median home price in Minnesota and the nation is significantly higher than the 30% of income that is the threshold for affordability.

Happy Pi Day +1

Happy Pi day + 1 everyone. I’ve been personally buried in an avalanche of reading, writing, processing, thinking, sensemaking, and job seeking, so there hasn’t been much activity here at I just finished writing the following introduction to a paper for my complex systems class. It will give you some idea of what I’ve been thinking about over recent days and weeks. Collective intelligence, group-think, organizational knowledge, distributed cognition, situated action, and the wisdom of crowds are just some of the many different phrases used to describe the similar phenomenon of people collecting, evaluating, and acting on information as a group.

Solving the Millionaire Problem, or Seeing into Networks

Two weeks ago I wrote about a presentation by Scott Page on diversity and the wisdom of crowds. One of the examples he used was the greater effectiveness of polling the studio audience versus calling a friend for an answer to a question. I suggested that a big part of this Millionaire problem is the difficulty we all have of seeing into networks, whether they belong to others or ourselves.

Scott Page on Diversity

Scott Page, an economics, political science, and complex systems professor at Michigan spoke to the ICOS seminar today about his new book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. His talk straddled the line between pop social science books, like Blink or The Wisdom of Crowds, and an academic talk. The line tended to the more pop economics end of things than the academic, but I enjoyed it.

A Pocketful of -archies

A confluence of recent readings have reintroduced me to some -archies I was familiar with and introduced some that were new to me. I’ll begin with holarchy, a term that I’ve recently encountered in [Integral Psychology]() by Ken Wilber. Wikipedia says the term originated with Arthur Koestler. I’ve read parts of his Act of Creation but don’t remember encountering the idea it that work. Wilber deploys the term to describe the way complex systems nest inside of each other.

Steven Bankes on Bridging the Gap from Complex Models to Policy Analysis

I just finished attending a presentation by Steven Bankes at the Complex Systems seminar. Bankes is a part of the Rand Information Sciences Group where he works on computer modeling and policy analysis. His speciality is exploratory modeling His talk basically called for a reframing of how academics use computer models to support decision making by policy leaders. According to Bankes policy leaders and academics are in two different cultures. The academics are concerned with rigorous model building and the policy leaders are just looking for enough robustness in the models to be able to see their own conceptions of the problem.

Neil Johnson at Complex Systems Seminar

Neil Johnson from Oxford visited Ann Arbor this week and today he gave a talk at the Complex Systems seminar series. He described some very interesting research that his group has been doing to model complex network/agent like systems, such as trading behavior or traffic patterns, guerrilla warfare, and relationship building. His Arxiv papers look very intriguing. It’s interesting to see how physicists have taken to sociometry and agent networks so enthusiastically.