I have a high need for cognition.

My craft is making and applying knowledge worker tools. Stuff that is practical but powerful to solve real problems. It’s the engineer in me. But I need to understand why it works – and more often than not, understanding the underlying principles helps you make better tools. I’m constantly on the lookout for mental models and frameworks and things like that.

Now, if that’s how you’re wired, sooner or later you bump into the literature around complex adaptive systems (CAS)… It’s a framework to think about frameworks, and gives you a mental model to understand where you need mental models in your system. It’s another layer of abstraction. Pretty meta. But it is very useful to conceive of better tools (and think about how you can use them in contexts involving, you know, real people).

For people like me, seeing the world through the lens of a “systems thinker” is irresistible. But they say you don’t understand something unless you can clearly explain it. They also say that writing is proof of thinking. So this section is me trying to explain CAS concepts to me, grappling with one keyword at a time.

I’d like to make the list longer, and the articles shorter.

> Proximity

> Hierarchy

> Context