About us

The Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter for Socio­cy­ber­net­ics Stud­ies Bonn (CSSB) was found­ed 2008 and grew out of the Fraun­hofer Insti­tut für Intel­li­gente Analyse- und Infor­ma­tion­ssys­teme (IAIS). It is part of the  Asso­ci­a­tion “Cul­tures of Knowl­edge” (“Wis­senskul­turen e.V.”) and has activ­i­ties in Ger­many, Colom­bia, UK, Italy and Méx­i­co. The research focus of the cen­ter is the appli­ca­tion of sys­tems think­ing and cyber­net­ic prin­ci­ples in order to analyse and han­dle social phe­nom­e­na regard­ing their com­plex­i­ty and dynam­ics. The fol­low­ing aspects can be empha­sised that may be seen as char­ac­ter­is­tic of our research approach:

  • Sys­tems: Research inter­est focused on han­dling com­plex­i­ty. A sys­temic view is an obser­va­tion attempt­ing to trace the diver­si­ty of inter­ac­tion in real­i­ty instead of ana­lyt­i­cal­ly iso­lat­ing indi­vid­ual causal rela­tions and explor­ing them in their entire
    depth. Sys­tems are defined by a cer­tain form of dis­tinc­tion from their envi­ron­ment.
  • Proces­su­al­i­ty: Cyber­net­ics “treats not things but ways of behav­ing. It does not ask ‘What is a thing?’ but ‘What does it do?’” (Ash­by 1956). It is not the nature, the prop­er­ties, the mate­ri­al­i­ty of objects that forms the cen­tre of its inter­est but their forms of oper­a­tion.
  • Reci­procity: It is not causal­i­ty but the mutu­al influ­ence of dynam­ic self-reg­u­lat­ing sys­tems that research focus­es on. With a cyber­net­ic approach, one has opt­ed for the exam­i­na­tion of the basic forms from which the inter­nal order of a sys­tem results rather than for observ­ing indi­vid­ual prop­er­ties.
  • Self-ref­er­en­tial­i­ty: To Heinz von Foer­ster, this is the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of cyber­net­ic thought. He speaks of “cir­cu­lar­i­ty”, refer­ring to all con­cepts that can be applied on them­selves, process­es in which a state ulti­mate­ly repro­duces itself. (v. Foer­ster 1993, p. 73). Luh­mann adopts this con­cept under the head­word “self-ref­er­en­tial­i­ty”.
  • Infor­ma­tion: Sys­tem process­es, espe­cial­ly the rela­tion between the sys­tem and the envi­ron­ment, are under­stood as “infor­ma­tion­al process­es” in which con­tin­gen­cies exist and selec­tion occurs rather than as neces­si­ties in the sense of a strict causal­i­ty. Infor­ma­tion is often referred to as a func­tion of the organ­i­sa­tion of sys­tems. Some nat­ur­al sci­en­tists regard infor­ma­tion as a “third fac­tor” next to mat­ter and con­scious­ness (Weizsäck­er 1974) or mat­ter and ener­gy (Stonier 990).
  • Reg­u­la­tion: The pur­pose­ful influ­enc­ing of social phe­nom­e­na always amounts to an attempt to inter­vene in high­ly com­plex
    sys­tems with self-organ­is­ing (dis­si­pa­tive) struc­tures. These sys­tems respond to attempts to reg­u­late them com­ing from their envi­ron­ment only on the basis of their inter­nal struc­ture. Thus reg­u­la­tion has to han­dle the phe­nom­e­non of the deter­mined­ness of sys­tems’ struc­tures.

The Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter of Socio­cy­ber­net­ics Stud­ies Bonn (CSSB) is car­ried by the Asso­ci­a­tion “Cul­tures of Knowl­edge” (Wis­senskul­turen e.V.), which is domi­ciled in Bonn, the Inter­na­tion­al UN-City in Ger­many. It was found­ed 2008 and focus­es its activ­i­ties on the phe­nom­e­na of soci­etal trans­for­ma­tion and his­tor­i­cal change of knowl­edge cul­tures. The work is pred­i­cat­ed on the premise, that any social change, in what­ev­er soci­etal area, cor­re­sponds with a change of cul­ture of knowl­edge. Inso­far all soci­eties are “knowl­edge soci­eties” in the sense that any soci­ety has to emerge forms and tech­niques to pro­ceed impor­tant deci­sions reg­u­lat­ing its knowl­edge: Which knowl­edge should be kept, which can be delet­ed. And which form this could be done?

As knowl­edge cul­ture is indi­cat­ed the com­plex­i­ty of gen­er­a­tion, stor­ing, access and dis­sem­i­na­tion of knowl­edge. Inso­far an obser­va­tion of all these com­po­nents of knowl­edge cul­tures should be help­ful to get a deep­er insight into the social qual­i­ty of cur­rent soci­etal tran­si­tion in gen­er­al.

To read more about these activ­i­ties please go to the Web­site of the Wis­senskul­turen e.V.