June 06, 2014 at 10:00AM
On horsemanship, shepherding, information systems, and business plans. #readingToday

Engineers often begin by thinking about system control as holding the reins of a metaphorical horse (strong coupling), but that model does not scale up to handle a herd of horses. To steer a herd, you need to abandon the idea of direct control and adopt a very different way of thinking: shepherding (weak coupling). The discussion of algorithmic complexity, and NP complete methods in chapter 9 , showed how one may relax determinism in order to obtain results quickly in reasoning. Letting go, with weaker constraints might actually increase certainty. Herding systems, instead of riding them , i.e. governing through constraints, can take us a long way, if we are willing to believe in the creative power of indeterminism. Evolution works by randomly exploring all reachable possibilities, constrained by environmental fitness; why not information systems? Business and financial plans also fall into the category of loosely specified plans that allow unspecified activities to take place underneath.

In Search of Certainty, Mark Burgess, 2013