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Islands of Stability: Engaging Emergence from Cellular Automata to the Occupy Movement 

Back to issue: ZMK Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung 5/1/2014: Producing Places
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Instead of considering »being with« in terms of non-problematic, machine-like places, where reliable entities assemble in stable relationships, STS conjures up a world where the achievement of chancy stabilisations and synchronisations is local.We have to analyse how and where a certain regularity and predictability in the intersection of scientists and their instruments, say, or of human individuals and groups, is produced.The paper reviews models of emergence drawn from the history of cybernetics—the canonical »black box,« homeostats, and cellular automata—to enrich our imagination of the stabilisation process, and discusses the concept of »variety« as a way of clarifying its difficulty, with the antiuniversities of the 1960s and the Occupy movement as examples. Failures of »being with« are expectable. In conclusion, the paper reviews approaches to collective decision-making that reduce variety without imposing a neoliberal hierarchy.