Monday, April 20, 2009

Interactive Map Of Complexity Science ( via

Complexity science is enormously important for intelligence professionals to understand. It holds great promise, I believe, for helping analysts get beyond the 69% threshhold.

It is, however, a daunting topic to tackle unassisted. I spent many years reading everything I could find on the topic that I thought could help me understand the consequences of what is, in many ways, a new way of thinking. I read James Gleick, of course, but I also read Per Bak, Steven Strogatz and Stuart Kaufmann, etc. (My favorite? Laszlo Barabasi).

Eventually, though, the topic become too broad -- there was simply too much to keep up with. Today the field is crowded with all sorts of new entries. If only there was a guide, a "map" of some kind to help orient newcomers to this field...


The picture above is just a partial screenshot of a fantastic, interactive map of the wide range of complexity sciences. The map is part of the larger Art and Science Factory site (worth exploring in its own right...). Links on the map go to important individuals and to key websites that explore the various topics.

Elearnspace (where I first saw mention of the map) comments that the map may be incomplete. They, as I, think, however, that it is a very useful product; particularly for beginners.


Deborah Osborne said...

I have also tried to think of ways to articulate applying this sort of research and am still working on it! I loved Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's book Linked - it is sitting right by me. I think studying Peter Senge's learning organization books, including The Fifth Discipline and The Dance of Change and other change facilitation/management may also turn out to helpful.

Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Thanks for the tips! I haven't read either one of those.


Dalene said...

I'm applying some characteristics of complexity on intel in my thesis. Understanding complexity has profound humbling impact on the way analysts see the world and try to make sense of the world around us; - if you understand "emergence", "feedback", self-organizing" and "multiple descriptions", an analyst would realise that his/her analysis of a situation or issue can never be neutral, objective, complete or permanent. We can only try to explain from a certain perspective, not even knowing what effect our perspective might have on the system we are trying to explain or on our own understanding. An intel briefing or report is therefor only a snapshot/freezed frame in time, and NOT the whole story. I recommend that students look at Cilliers, Paul. 2007. in AALTONEN, Mika, "The Third Lens: multi-ontology sense-making and strategic decision-making" and Bennet, Alex and David. 2004. "Organizational survival in the New World: The Intelligent Complex Adaptive System" or Eve Mittleton-Kelly

Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Thanks for the additional reading suggestions!