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Being in the Flow on Strategic Highways and Byways

Explores clues to self-organization provided by the set of road traffic signs.

Being in the Flow on Strategic Highways and Byways
Signage for sustainable self-organization?
Insights into "flood navigation" from road signs?
Danger warning signs for traffic
Traffic priority signs
Prohibitory or restrictive traffic signs
Mandatory traffic signs
Special traffic regulation signs
Information signs for traffic
Direction signs for traffic
Hazardous condition of drivers

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Annex to Disastrous Floods as Indicators of Systemic Risk Neglect


The main paper explores the systemic imbalances described metaphorically in terms of "floods" and "flooding". The suggestion made there was that "flood control" could be usefully explored in the light of the degree of self-governance and self-organization associated with road traffic.

Rather than consider metaphors based on the control of flooding by water -- even though this requires very concrete measures -- of potentially greater relevance is the understanding to be derived from the control of a "flood" of traffic. This involves forms of "governance" with which many are personally extremely familiar on a daily basis. It also implies a higher degree of self-organization and self-governance. The degree of personal resonsibility and engagement in the face of risk "on the ground" is strikingly contrasted with that articulated through abstract representation in complex systems diagrams.

As discussed separately (System Dynamics, Hypercycles and Psychosocial Self-organization, 2010), the more complex the map of a system, the less likely it is to be widely comprehended and used, and the greater the potential for unremarked errors. This is relevant to mapping the current strategic issues in Afghanistan (Dion Nissenbaum, Graphic Shows Complexity of US Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, The Huffington Post, 22 December 2009; Dion Nissenbaum, The Great Afghan Spaghetti Monster, Checkpoint Kabul, 20 December 2009).

It is understandable that people find it difficult to identify with the dynamics indicated by such systemic representations. These can be usefully recognized as offering a "false" sense of perspective dissociated from that which people require to navigate within a flood of traffic.

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