Purpose: To preface Part II of the special issue focusing on the work of Heinz von Foerster. Design/methodology/approach – Outlines the contribution made by Heinz von Foerster. Findings: Highlights his role as the founder of second order cybernetics. Originality/value – Provides an outline of the importance of Heinz von Foerster’s contribution to cybernetics. Keywords: Cybernetics, Research work
Purpose: Discusses the notion of eigenform as explicated by Heinz von Foerster wherein an object is seen to be a token for those behaviors that lend the object its apparent stability in a changing world. Design/methodology/approach – Describes von Foerster’s model for eigenforms and recursions and put this model in the context of mathematical recursions, fractals, set theory, logic, quantum mechanics, the lambda calculus of Church and Curry, and the categorical framework of fixed points of Lawvere. Findings: Determines that iterating an object upon itself is seen to be a key to understanding the nature of objects and the relationship of an observer and the apparent world of the observer. Originality/value – Contemplates the concept of recursion in the context of second-order cybernetics.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to connect two discourses, the discourse of cybernetics and that of design. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes a comparative analysis of relevant definitions, concepts, and entailments in both discourse, and an integration of these into a cybernetically informed concept of human-centered design, on the one hand, and a design-informed concept of second-order cybernetics, on the other hand. In the course of this conceptual exploration, the distinction between science and design is explored with cybernetics located in the dialectic between the two. Technology-centered design is distinguished from human-centered design, and several axioms of the latter are stated and discussed. Findings: This paper consists of recommendations to think and do things differently. In particular, a generalization of interface is suggested as a replacement for the notion of products; a concept of meaning is developed to substitute for the meaninglessness of physical properties; a theory of stakeholder networks is discussed to replace the deceptive notion of THE user; and, above all, it is suggested that designers, in order to design something that affords use to others, engage in second-order understanding. Originality/value – The paper makes several radical suggestions that face likely rejection by traditionalists but acceptance by cyberneticians and designers attempting to make a contribution to contemporary information society. Keywords: cybernetics, sciences, design.