There is an easy seductiveness to stories that cast a technology as brand-new, or at the very least that don’t belabor long, complicated histories. Seen this way, the future is a space of reinvention and possibility, rather than something intimately connected to our present and our past.

But histories are more than just backstories. They are backbones and blueprints and maps to territories that have already been traversed. Knowing the history of a technology, or the ideas it embodies, can provide better questions, reveal potential pitfalls and lessons already learned, and open a window onto the lives of those who learned them.

At the School of Cybernetics we have an abiding interest in histories of science and technology, and large-scale systems. We believe that such histories help inform our understanding of present versions of those systems, as well as provide critical frameworks within which to explore present and future systems.

In this workshop, based on our own research and analysis, participants will revisit the 19th century Australian Overland Telegraphy Line, using a case study approach to explore the importance and utility of a “cybernetic systems” point of view. Using historical examples and interactive encounters, participants will develop important and relevant tools and questions for designing, building, running, regulating and even decommissioning complex, dynamic systems.

group size up to 20
default length 3 hours
delivery mode in-person

Learning Outcomes#

At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. understand a cybernetic approach to complex, dynamic systems, including the interplay of human, ecological and technical in any systems
  2. importance of multi sited perspectives and points of view
  3. experience utiltising cybernetic tools
  4. relevance of pre/history of technical systems to contemporary systems design
  5. exposure to key Australian engineering and technology projects

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