Meshworking: An emerging term/idea. Networking doesn’t quite say it all. Transpartisan Organizing?


I came across the term “Meshworks” about a year ago and now have joined a group that knows something about the idea.  Robin Wood hosts the R2 site  “R2 integrates the power of innovators in business, design, governance and technology to catalyze a renewable worldcentric culture & economy”.  Robin posted an expert from an associate Marilyn Hamilton PhD CGA, founder of www.integralcity.com, on where meshworks came from and how they might mesh and work better.  If you ar wonky you will like this.  Walt

(Click here to see the original post)

Excerpt of excerpt follows.

What is Meshworking?

Meshworking is a term derived from brain science to describe how the brain integrates hierarchies and self-organizing webs of relationships. The brain builds itself by laying down large synaptic highways which become the scaffold of communication corridors from which secondary and tertiary corridors emerge, until a vast “hairnet of axons” covers the brain. Once this hairnet is in place then we have a brain that is able to self-organize an infinite number of connections, thoughts, ideas, innovations and learnings while at the same time behave and direct behaviour in dependable, learned ways.

Meshworking seems to combine both the self-organizing results of complex-adaptive human systems with the replicatable backbone of hierarchical organization, capturing the best of two operating systems. In strict terms, brain scientists use meshworks in relation to self-organizing neural nets, and hierarchies in relation to reinforcing levels of hierarchical operations.

The brain builds itself by laying down large synaptic highways which become the scaffold of communication corridors from which secondary and tertiary corridors emerge, until a vast “hairnet of axons” covers the brain. Once this hairnet is in place then we have a brain that is able to self-organize an infinite number of connections, thoughts, ideas, innovations and learnings while at the same time behave and direct behaviour in dependable, learned ways.

Some researchers even relate key synaptic connections in the brain (modulated by the major neurotransmitters like serontonin, dopamine, choline, noradrenalin etc.) to sets of values that allow for regulated brain/body function.

These values appear themselves to be modifiable, based on life conditions. The appearance of this modern brain science evidence of intelligence-based values, seems to vindicate Clare Graves’ (Graves, 1974) proposition that intelligences are triggered in the brain by dissonance (ie. constraints) in the environment.

It appears that it is the brain’s very capability of re-organizing itself and releasing new potentials that allows for the emergence of new values systems. In other words, if the brain lacked its self-organizing capacity, it would be constrained from emerging new capacities. At the same time if it lacked hierarchical capacity, it would not.

What an amazing combination of qualities our brain demonstrates: an organism capable of forever re-inventing itself by meshing neural nets and an organism that is able to sort and choose amongst options by producing useful hierarchies.

Moreover, it appears that meshworks link heterogeneous capacities or entities and hierarchies link homogenous elements or functions. But as values systems emerge, then a level of complexity emerges where our brains meshwork hierarchies (eg. connect organ systems like heart, lung, liver) and make hierarchies out of meshworks (eg. the circadian sequences of the meridian energy system). It is this two-way combination of enabling hierarchal meshes and meshing hierarchies that lies at the heart of my use of the term “meshworking”.

Beyond the appeal of the meshed neural networks, I recognized that the application of meshworking was not limited to brain function, but that it might offer a powerful explanation of how communities and cities function. Because communities and cities are artifacts of human life, I reasoned that if our brains had the capacity to meshwork hierarchies and to make hierarchies of meshworks, this might be the key to understanding how cities are working and evolving.

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