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Going Beyond the System in Systems Thinking: The Cybork

Part of the Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation book series (LNISO,volume 23)


In this paper we make the point of the need to introduce a new concept, and the related term, to account for the dynamic nature of socio-technical systems and make this nature a primary concern of systems thinking to understand and intervene on this kind of systems: the cybork.


  • Systems thinking
  • Socio-technical systems
  • Gestell
  • Bildung
  • Cyborg
  • Cybork

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  1. 1.

    Morphogenesis seems to be the “pillars of Hercules” of computational thinking, as also prominent figures like Alan Turing have considered it as a matter of study, with limited success [3].

  2. 2.

    Not necessarily enacted, but also only imagined by an agent.

  3. 3.

    If Nietzsche was among the first ones, Becker is probably among the latest ones, when he writes that “things are just people acting together” (p. 46) [5].

  4. 4.

    In his words: “[…] there is no being behind the doing, acting, becoming. The doer is merely made up and added into the action—the act is everything” (On the Genealogy of Morals, treatise I, 13, tr. W. Kaufmann).

  5. 5.

    The etimology of thing, i.e., a public assembly of people discussing “things of concerns” (from which it comes the metonymy by which the latter ones got the name of the former one) is a common place that we just hint at here.

  6. 6.

    Simply put, linguistic relativism states that the language by which we describe the world affects our interpretation of it.

  7. 7.

    cf. Goethe’s Botanical Writings, pp. 215–19, cited in [33].

  8. 8.

    “Cognates: Greek ergon “work,” orgia “religious performances;” Armenian gorc “work;” Avestan vareza “work, activity;” Gothic waurkjan, Old English wyrcan “to work,” Old English weorc “deed, action, something done;” Old Norse yrka “work, take effect”. Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001–2016 Douglas Harper.

  9. 9.

    The Greek word for machine, mechané, means “any artificial means or contrivance (i.e., device/arrangement/expedient) for doing a thing”: the machine cannot be decloupled from either its skillful use or the goal it is aimed at. Likewise, and differently from many mainstream translations of the treatise by Aristotle about machines, we translate its beginning as follows: “Remarkable things occur [not in accordance with nature but rather] along and beyond it [parà phýsin], which are produced through techne for the advantage of humanity […] whenever it is necessary to produce an effect [prâxai] beyond nature [parà phýsin]. […] Therefore we call that part of techne [méros tes téchnes] solving such difficulties, a machine.

  10. 10.

    Here again we recall that to understand means “to stand in between” as if it were always possible, by discerning the relata from the relation itself.

  11. 11.

    Orig.: Der Wille zum System ist ein Mangel an Rechtschaffenheit. Götzen-Dämmerung, § 26,

  12. 12.

    In semiotics, the stance by the Russian semiologist Jurij Michajlovic̆ Lotman can be seen as an alternative perspective to the more traditional ones, both the Peircean and the Saussarian ones, and one strongly opposing any stance that sees the whole ontologically as sum of its parts.

  13. 13.

    “To do things, like certain inanimate objects,[not necessarily] knowing what they are doing, as, for instance, fire burns” Aristotle, Metaphysics, 981a–b.


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Correspondence to Federico Cabitza .

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Cabitza, F., Varanini, F. (2018). Going Beyond the System in Systems Thinking: The Cybork. In: Rossignoli, C., Virili, F., Za, S. (eds) Digital Technology and Organizational Change. Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation, vol 23. Springer, Cham.

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