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An Introduction to General Systems Thinking

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  35 reviews
For more than twenty-five years, An Introduction to General Systems Thinking has been hailed as an innovative introduction to systems theory, with applications in computer science and beyond. Used in university courses and professional seminars all over the world, the text has proven its ability to open minds and sharpen thinking.
Originally published in 1975 and reprinted
Paperback, Silver Anniversary Edition, 279 pages
Published April 15th 2001 by Dorset House Publishing Co Inc.,U.S. (first published 1975)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  537 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Sergei Kotlov
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: system-thinking
The book is excellent and deep. The author is a guru in System Thinking and you feel it almost from the first page. Huge number of examples and suggestions for discussions is the most valuable part of the book. Spending most of my time in IT I had a limited view on the application of System Thinking. This book opened my eyes to many interesting directions and spheres I wasn't aware of.

At the same time the book is difficult to read. Sometimes I found myself moving slowly through sentences trying
Nikolay Theosom
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of systems thinking writing is just piles of self-justification management trash; most of it doesn't worth the time spent reading. This one though is a completely different beast.

I feel like, what Baudrillard did for reality deconstruction, Weinberg does for knowledge and thinking processes. His work on relationships between identity, change and regulation is just unparalleled. So, if you enjoyed the first you will enjoy this too.

also, prepare for a very condensed stream on knowledge in yo
Benjamin Scherrey
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computers
This is one of those few books that I revisit every few years and always learn something new from. If you're a systems designer of any sort (I'm a computer software architect/developer) then you'll find it remarkable how Gerry articulates things you've sort of noticed but never personally fully quantified resulting in those wonderful "ah-ha" moments. Then he proceeds to map those back to first principles and relate it to all kinds of other relevant considerations you had never considered. Pearls ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
To be a successful generalist, then, we must approach complex systems with a certain naive simplicity. We must be as little children, for we have much evidence that children learn most of their more complex ideas in just this manner, first forming a general impression of the whole and only then passing down to more particular discriminations.
Weinberg tries to explain how our preconceptions and biases get in the way of understanding the world around us.
I am more interested in system thinking to a
Although it has been more than three years (March 9, 2015) since I first purchased Weinberg's book, "An Introduction to General Systems Thinking", in many ways it represents the perfect compliment to the works, "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" and "An Introduction to Special Relativity" — both written by David Bohm.

Where Bohm leaves off, pleading for a more carefully structured approach towards understanding the process of thought, Weinberg gladly picks up both the trail and the mantle. It is
Angie Boyter
There are a lot of good ideas here, but for a book that is supposed to help people think it is incredibly badly organized, and he uses terms he does not define and laws he never states explicitly. (I read it as an ebook from Smashwords, which enabled me to look up terms or laws that I thought I could not remember, so I can be confident of that.)I am really surpirsed it is considered a classic.
It is clearly intended to be a textbook. There are some quite interesting "problems" at the end of each
Adam Zethraeus
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m always wary when I encounter a cliché, or an orphaned maxim. Often there are useful pieces of knowledge underlying the creation of these bundlings, but they’re not necessarily conducive to deriving it. Rather, the underlying utility is only recoverable through the process of independent, if potentially guided, discovery. This is after all why a good maths teacher will attempt to give you more context for a theory than just its corresponding formulae.

This book suffers from the sense of cliché
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
As the book points out in the beginning a person with a CS background might not get much out of it and I fully agree with this statement. My reason for the low rating is that I was expecting more in terms of way to think about things differently, meaning to see or extract general pictures. The book is more about possible ways to consider things. One of the most useful passage for me was the following:

"In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Well, it never turns out quite that way
Neville Ridley-smith
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, technical
The sight you see before you is me with a glassy gaze, a slack jaw, and dribble coming out of the corner of my mouth. Followed by me saying "Wha?"

Which is how I feel about this book.

For the most part, Weinberg is quite readable and has a lot to say. The problem I have (which others may not), is that I find it hard to summarise what I've just read. And furthermore, find it hard to see how I would apply this book to my work as a programmer.

BUT Even though I feel I've barely grasped it's concepts,
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be called "An investigation into what you do when you think you're producing scientific thought". The book discusses the domain of medium scale systems with large randomness; and consequently low predictability. It tries to law before the methods of understanding those systems; exposing assumptions, fallacies and the like; that make your methods weak. It does seem to have many interesting idea but feels largely dry. I was unaware that it was intended as a textbook, which explain ...more
Jake McCrary
I'm having a hard time writing a review for this book and figuring out what star rating to give it. I think a second reading or reading more on the topic would help.

It was good. The book presents some ways of thinking about systems that might enhance how you approach general problem-solving.

Sometimes the language was awkward. This forced me to reread sentences and paragraphs to grasp what they were saying.
Szymon Kulec
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really demanding book. It deals with approaching and analyzing systems and building their models. It's filled with laws and principles and every chapter ends with several exercises that you can use to deepen your understanding of this part of the book. To me, it's a book that needs to be revisited, as grasping its content in once, is really hard (at least for me).

I can tell right now, that I'm sold and will read more books from Weinberg for sure.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Weinberg provides in clear language interesting ways to think about systems, in whatever incarnation they take. I feel like it's deceptively simple, verging on common sense. The thing is, so much of our perception is clouded by long-ingrained habit that it is useful to take a step back, and actual think about what how we think. Anyway, the principles and "laws" Weinberg introduces are something I intend to revisit.
Martynas Petkevičius
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Like in most social sciences, the book's ideas are pretentious, but too general and vague to be of any use. The book if full of inaccurate trivia, used as examples of its ideas, paradoxical scepticism towards science and invented names for common-sense concepts, but very little valuable.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
got me thinking

I am not a fan of the writing style.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Worth coming back at least once, potentially 5-star
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
A fresh perspective on the development of common understanding. Full of examples between ‘extremes’ such as computer programming logic and anthropological studies.
Paul Jarzabek
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: college majors
Very difficult to learn but useful beyond description. This book has the potential of resetting the entire way one approaches problem solving.
Erika RS
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
This book has lots of good content -- I was highlighting frequently -- but it's not the easiest read.

The high level idea of general systems thinking is that there are large classes of problems that are difficult to analyze. Problems with small number of pieces and lots of structure -- organized simplicity -- can be handled analytically. Problems with many pieces and lots of randomness -- unorganized complexity -- can be handled statistically. Those systems in between -- medium systems -- are to
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: could-not-finish
This is great and the erudition of the author is impressive. The logical problems and strategies he describes can really be applied to anything - and he shows that by applying them to all kinds of subjects, from computer science to biology and linguistics. The only reason why I couldn't finish reading it is that this book should really be completed in one sitting - I found that being distracted and going back to it, even to separate chapters, after a hiatus in reading would really interfere with ...more
Graham Lee
There are some useful details on thinking about systems in the abstract sense, but there's also a lot of the book that comes off as helping men to splain things in areas in which we aren't experts. I did not hear the same humble tone from this book as from the Psychology of Computer Programming by the same author.
Ryan Freckleton
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the seminal book on the Systems Thinking movement and Systems thinking in general. I've read it at least 4 times from cover to cover.

If you're a scientist, an artist or someone who just is curious about how the world works, from sub-atomic particles to individual relationships, this book is full of gold.
Johnno Nolan
Oct 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I'll admit I've struggled with this book. It's dense and a little bit all over the place. But when I set my mind to there is some fascinating information in there.
Thirumal Rao
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
A profound book that needs another careful reading to benefit from it...
John Blevins
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read a couple of Weinberg's books. He did some on-site consulting in organization development at my employer's of the time.
I preferred his "Psychology of Computer Programming" for accessibility.
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deep and fascinating. Already got me hooked on Systems Thinking.
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I now see the world around me differently because of this book.
Christian Brumm
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Interesting, but not so well written/edited. Hard to see how these ideas can be put into practice.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
It can be shortened and explained better. It reads like a brain dump and not a coherent text.
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Gerald Marvin Weinberg (October 27, 1933 – August 7, 2018) was an American computer scientist, author and teacher of the psychology and anthropology of computer software development.
“If you cannot think of three ways of abusing a tool, you do not understand how to use it. Faithful” 2 likes
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