International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.


COMMUNICATION (Failure in human) 4)

G. VICKERS describes three areas in human communication where failure is possible, namely in defining problems, in evaluating programs, and in securing cooperation and concurrence".

He states: "In more static societies the relations to be regulated and the situations which involve them are usually familiar and are often equally visible to all. In our society, the more numerous relations to be regulated combine in subtle and often novel ways and the situations which involve them have to be anticipated by techniques of simulation, often involving the combination of large volumes of information. So the task of defining the problem is by no means simple. Ways of seeing the problem become obsolete, no less than ways of solving it… This need constantly to restructure problems makes novel demands on communication".

As to the evaluation of programs: "The situation to which the policy maker attends is not a datum but a construct, a mental artifact, a collective work of art. It has to be simplified, or it becomes unmanageable.: yet, if it is oversimplified, it will be no guide to action".

This comment makes clear the reason why our over-simplified or distorted media messages are generally so confusing for the public… and even possibly for their own senders.

As to secure cooperation and concurrence: "It has to reflect present and future reality; yet if it departs too sharply from the familiar thinking of the past, it will not be sufficiently shared by those for whom it has to provide a common basis for discussion. It has to be not merely discovered but invented, not merely invented but chosen from among several alternative inventions, each a valid but differently selected view. Most difficult of all, it must not obscure the views which it supersedes" (1967, p.63-65).

There is of course much ground for communication failure. This is why co-participative design seems necessary to obtain and maintain workable consensus.


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]

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