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Systemantics: The Underground Text of Systems Lore
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Systemantics: The Underground Text of Systems Lore

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  102 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Hardcover published by Quadragle/The New York Times Book Co., third printing, August 1977, copyright 1975.
Paperback, 319 pages
Published November 1st 1986 by General Systemantics Pr/Liberty (first published 1977)
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I think what this book demonstrates is that a certain kind of common sense isn't sense at all, but rather a cynical tyranny of half-truths. It is disingenuous, in that it attempts to borrow the prestige of technical language exactly while also writing in a register of humor, so that any attempt to see past it would provoke the guard reflect of not being in on the joke. Another frequently-used convention is to use upper-case words to make conceptual entities seem justified, well-known, and cohesi ...more
This is a weird book. I found out about it by accident, and read it on a whim. The book mainly covers how most systems don't work, or work mainly for their own ends, and not the ends set out at the system's inception. It does this through a series of maxims which define general systems behavior. Often times the book is irreverant (a lame joke about mental retardation is contained within the first chapter), and the approach isn't exactly scholarly, but it's hard to ignore the basic common sense o ...more
Nathan Glenn
Not what I expected, but still very relevant. I expected something very academic and mathematical. The author claimed many times that his principles were "axioms", and that they were pristinely mathematical in nature and all self evident. This was a rather annoying claim, since the book was not mathematical at all, nor were the axioms necessarily self-evident (though good supporting examples were provided). Despite this, it all still rings perfectly true. A system can be a blessing or a curse, b ...more
I would like this book to be required reading for all high school or college students. It would help dispel the now unhealthy wide-spread blind faith in "systems." To paraphrase the author: A large system (Congress for example) never does what it says it does. Large systems have their own goals.

"The Systems Bible" is written for the layperson. It is very witty and full of usable wisdom.
A cross between Dilbert, Dao De Jing and Charles Perrow's Normal Accidents. Large technological and social systems lose track of their original purpose and turn self-serving; they do not function as designed because their creators forgot Le Chatelier's principle and were unaware of various feedback loops. The process of observing the systems changes them. Passive safety is better than active safety; when used mindlessly, safety devices and procedures themselves become safety hazards.

The examples
It's a one of a kind book -- it's the System as idiot blind Azathoth, piping a monotonous tune on a flute at the center of the Universe. It's the System at two in the morning, faking a human voice, blithely informing you there is no emergency and you have always been on fire. It's the System you created that tells you it's going to take your face to make its customers feel more comfortable.

It's a book that tells you every program that you write will have bugs, every company you work for will hav
Lou Cordero
The copy I read is subtitled "How systems work and especially how they fail". Wonderful easy read sheds light and humor on the development of complex systems. The impossibility of solving the problem correctly and completely. I recommend this book to anyone involved in the design of complex systems.
tries unsuccessfully to be flip and not very insightful, but its a quick read with an interesting of mind tickling maxims.
Das Anjos
Entertaining for people with experience designing and using systems, full of internal jokes and insights.
purpose of tutorial is help to understand
TK Keanini
One of the better summary of Systems Theory.
Andre Merlo
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