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21st Annual
Winter Chaos Conference

 Dynamical Systems Thinking in Science, Education, the Humanities, and Society 

March 21st to 24th, 2013
Center For Human Development

Springfield, Massachusetts, USA   



Chaos & Complacency
Snowflakes 2: The Next Generation 
Dr. Mark R.Filippi
Beautiful, Downtown Larchmont, NY ;)                   
I thought I'd apply some of our nomenclature to the journey of the Winter conferences. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary so I figured this meeting would be a good time to look back at how we got here. I'll examine our 'initial conditions' that led to the formation of the group, the key struggles it faced during it's first 10 years of existence and the major events over the ensuing decade that led to the group's current configuration. From all of that, I'd like to offer several trajectories for the group to consider as we enter the next generation. I'll try and keep it 'clerical' and focus on how our own NDS tools can optimize the group's maturation.


The Burning Question


"It's Snowflake 2032. What happened to us?"  
How did any/all of our ideas get applied? 


As we look ahead, even as far as 2014, what is the purpose and direction of this group?
To find out where we're going it's time to take a closer look at where we've been...  

Overview: From splinters to smithereens..

I figured a little NDS review of the history of the Snowflakes may help illustrate our current dilemma...sure it will!


From all accounts, the 1st Winter Chaos conference was well attended and despite
the subzero temperatures and the remote location, it attracted the best of the best.
The initial idea, as far as I was remember, was to create a model for a regional version

of the newly formed SCTPLS that could be duplicated around the country. Or was it? 

As the SCTPLS grew, the Winter Chaos meetings became a portal of entry for
many people who wanted a local introduction to the world of nonlinear dynamical systems.
People would attend the Winter conference to get feedback and guidance about what
they were preparing to present in long form at the Summer SCTPLS conferences.

As the Winter Chaos conferences became more established, factions developed
and the first signs of friction emerged. It was clear that the people who attended
these conferences wanted a more informal, interactive, straightforward environment.
Many past SCTPLS presidents attended these conferences regularly and that attracted
grad students seeking their expertise and a wide range of disciplines new to this world.

In a sense, the Winter Chaos conferences had developed a niche that the larger
and more formal Summer SCTPLS conferences were lacking. This contributed to a bitter
and prolonged power struggle that festered and that early general friction led to sour personal
relationships and spiteful professional stuff that further compounded the problem.

The tension boiled over at the 2004 and 2005 Summer SCTPLS conferences. If you
ever wondered what a bifurcation felt, like the aftermath of those two meetings
was your real world tutorial for it. The Snowflakes needed to find a new direction.

Leave it to Karen VanderVen from Pittsburgh to be the salvation of the Snowflakes.
The 2006 Winter Chaos conference in a geeked up Superbowl city was the stage for
a new beginning. Many first time presenters joined us and we became a closer knit
group as a result. The subsequent meetings have sustained that precious vibe.  




Going onward, but not necessarily upward, the 2013 Snowflakes need to answer the 2032 crew...

*Did we become a well-respected continuing education faculty, bringing NDS to the world?
*Did we offer distance learning and training in our areas of interest, ala the Assisi Conferences?
*Did we become a highly sought after interdisciplinary think tank that impacted the culture?
*Did we design yearly peer-to-peer project partnerships and publish the results our efforts?

*Did we just keep meeting 'the same time next year' until all or most of us 'evaporate'? 

 Or did we do something really @#%! cool?


Like Write A Sequel!



If we view the YELLOW BOOK as the movie poster that captured the BIG PICTURE of what we all collectively recognize as the base principles and core concepts of dynamical systems...IOW..it was GESTALT CHAOS for us. We've all seen the movie by now. We long since transcended the limitations of chaos theory and even found some other ones that challenge it. Our ideas as a group are provocative and sometimes downright radical. Yet we sit in the audience alone, watching the movie silently...The reality is that the rest of the population LIVES in the turbulence we can decipher.


The book would APPLY our collective and individual expertise. It would be written in true Snowflake storytelling form. All the conversations, discussions, arguments and anecdotes would be along for the ride. This way we'd not only educate readers but demonstrate to them how we have taken these rare and unprecedented meetings into our own work and personal lives. We can also celebrate some of the people we've lost along the way, like Hector Sabelli, Daniel Miller and even CHAOPYSC's best ever resident critic, Jeff Pressing. We all know dozens of people who've altered our path.

This book would be a way of transforming a generation of off the radar toiling in obscurity by putting together a living record of who the Snowflakes are, how we think and what we know. What I'd like to propose is that we give the reader a template to move through the attractors with us. Since everything we're dealing with is a SHI*T STORM we'd have to keep our guidance consistent...

*Forecasting - Assessing Initial Conditions, Calibrating Variables, Separating "IS" from "IF"
*Tracking - Understanding Dynamics, Weighing Information, Seeking Saliency
*Prepping - Combining Intrinsic and Extrinsic Resources, Allowing For Emergent Properties
*Facing - Recognizing Limitations, Evaluating Trajectories, Mobilizing Resources 
*Learning - Relating Different Perspectives, Qualifying Conclusions, Using Results As Currency 
*Resetting - Establishing A New Equilibrium, Communicating With Coherence, Embracing Chaos

These are the skills we've all honed in our individual fields of expertise. We've also been able to apply them to the same challenges everyday people experience. That awareness is needed now as all these sectors undergo what for us are the inevitable changes all dynamical systems undergo. It's on us to open up and deliver this book and then use that as a platform to reach more liked-minded Snowflakes around the world. How we do all that and more is what's up for grabs this weekend.

But Filippi, how will we write this? We're all over the planet/busy/tired/etc...Easy people. That's what Sunday morning and all the things between then and now are for us to discover. Obviously I have my ideas, but this is something we need to compose together. I just want it to happen damnit!  


Spiral on Snowflakes! Now we're legal drinking age! :)



"You can't be common, the common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon."

Herb Brooks 



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