There is a fascinating article on how Chile Tried to Find the Right Software for Socialism in the New York Times. Quote:
“When military forces loyal to Gen. Augusto Pinochet staged a coup here in September 1973, they made a surprising discovery. Salvador Allende’s Socialist government had quietly embarked on a novel experiment to manage Chile’s economy using a clunky mainframe computer and a network of telex machines. The project, called Cybersyn, was the brainchild of A. Stafford Beer, a visionary Briton who employed his “cybernetic” concepts to help Mr. Allende find an alternative to the planned economies of Cuba and the Soviet Union. After the coup it became the subject of intense military scrutiny.”
I have always been a big fan of Beer since I read his great book Designing Freedom: Stafford Beer (chapters.indigo.ca)
which was part of the Massey Lectures. It’s a very small book, based on the lectures he gave, but it is packed with thought provoking ideas that may just be coming into play with Web 2.0 and social networking technology. Perhaps we need to go back and look at his work again.
See the article at the nytimes.com. Then get his book from Indigo…for under $5, no less! (And try the other books in the Massey Lectures series…there is alot of brilliance in a number of small books.)
(Photo: Joao Pina for The New York Times)