[SIGCIS-Members] Cybernetics and Industry

Erica Robles-Anderson ewoka823 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 4 07:08:33 PDT 2018

Hi Bjorn

Your line of inquiry sounds super interesting, I’d love to know what you find. I’ll echo the recommendation to trace Stafford Beer. There’s a helpful chapter about him in Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain. Also following Gordon Pask’s lineage to practitioners such as Paul Pangaro and Hugh Dubberly might make sense. Both have worked to transmit cybernetic ideas to major industrial players. I believe interactions of the ACM ran a piece by Dubberly a few years back with diagrams showing how cybernetic thinking applied to the product design and innovation processes. They’re quite beautiful and deserving of scholarly analysis. Happy to chat offline if it’s useful.



Erica Robles-Anderson
Associate Professor
Media, Culture, and Communication
New York University
erica.robles at nyu.edu

> On Jun 29, 2018, at 9:41 AM, McMillan, William W <william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu> wrote:
> Hi, Bjorn.
> The work in systems analysis of Ben S. Graham, Sr., at Standard Register starting in the 1940s might be relevant.  Strong ties to Taylor and the Glibreths.  Graham explicitly employed cybernetic concepts and worked with the Gilbreths and W. E. Deming.
> I can send you some info on this if you'd like.
> - Bill
> ________________________________
> From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of Bjorn Westergard [bjornw at gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2018 6:27 PM
> To: members
> Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Cybernetics and Industry
> Esteemed SIGCIS members,
> Which are the indispensable histories (and/or shorter historical essays) of cybernetics that touch on its social context?
> I'm particularly interested in the influence of self-styled cyberneticians on those playing a directive function in private enterprise (industrial/process engineers, managers, etc.) and vice versa.
> This question was prompted by a (characteristically!) gnomic remark of Wiener's in The Human Use of Human Beings, in which he appears to be quite fluent in "Taylorist" idiom:
> "The notion of programming in the factory had already become familiar through the work of Taylor and the Gilbreths on time study, and was ready to be transferred to the machine. This offered considerable difficulty of detail, but no great difficulty of principle." (p150)
> Cheers,
> Bjorn
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