More Looping Loops

Alois wonders if this is already double loop. No. The word is a descriptor to describe a process so there’s a category error of thinking that a definition can turn something mobile and variable into something static. No. But we do need words to be able to address ideas, even slippery ones. Denham picks up the thermostat as single loop, which is a simple feedback loop and the ‘variable’ is fixed – what is the temperature, double loop means the variable is more negotiable. So even using this engineering example a double loop might be a thermostat that ‘learns’ that in winter people seem to want it a bit warmer inside and on cold days warmer in the morning, cooler in the afternoon, and that in summer people prefer it to be a bit cooler inside than they like it in winter. So the thermostat is able to ‘learn’. Still machine learning, but the beginnings of double loop because the variable (ambient air temperature) is now able to be questioned.

Prani realises that double loop invites a certain type of honesty. Danielle picks up the point of model II needing our assumptions to be also available for question (this is what I did in the first unlecture when I contrasted the example of essay writing with blogs).

This though, is outstanding, from Abby:

Strangely enough, I think outside of the academic environments, my attitudes tend more towards Model II. Perhaps because in a professional working environment, there are fewer definitive measures, and a sense of teamwork and responsibility shared throughout a workplace.

Yes, and one reason I’ve set the reading is for you to all begin to realise that your education, inspite of the nature of the workplace, and the world, has largely trained you to be model I thinkers and doers. But it is model II that will matter for your futures if you want to be more than button pushers (or call centre middle managers).

Alexandra brings acting theory into to single and double loops, accurately noting that we move away from things when we act defensively. This subject intends to disrupt, and we’ve started with what we think learning and teaching is, the disruption is a deliberate positive strategy to make explicit what our otherwise implicit assumptions are. It’s a way of fast tracking double loop stuff.

Ditte has an excellent quote: “It  is  only  by  interrogating  and  changing  the  governing values,  the  argument  goes,  is  it  possible  to  produce  new action  strategies  that  can  address  changing circumstances.” It is excellent because media as an idea, industry, and form, is undergoing rapid change. Some of it will stay the same, but that risks being the modern version of opera, very expensive to run, requiring subsidisation, and only of interest to a specialist audience. Opera is the arts version of a threatened species, it needs special protection. The media is heading the same way. Even something as simple as journalism and the press, in the US there are serious claims being raised that it ought to receive state subsidies to continue. This in the land that most enshrines the idea of a free press and small government.

Cuong suggests that double loop learnings “pretty much similar to single loop learning  but extended with extra steps to undertake.” Not quite, that’s a quantitative answer (do a few more steps). Model II and double loop is a qualitative change. Not more steps but different steps that produce distinctly different sorts of outcomes and experiences. Patrick has a reasonable and mature response, recognising the ways in which what is discussed in the Arygris reading relates to not only learning, but emotional and personality possibilities too. In practice based disciplines (so where making stuff is fundamental, which covers most areas of media pretty thoroughly) the ability to reflect-in-practice is a key marker of those that have ‘mastery’ versus the apprentice, or the just plain not very good practitioner. Reflection-in-practice is in the moment of the making, not afterwards. It is a sort of super charged double loop sort of learning. The more you know about your own methods (or ‘systems’) the better off you are in these contexts. For instance, if you’re already feeling threatened by the subject (and so are deciding it is ‘not working’ and so on) then you probably thrive in situations where what needs to be done is very clear, well defined, and so on. It is important to realise this about yourself now, not in your first job, because it simply means you are very good at some things, and not at others, and you want to know this before your first real job application.