how to use conscious purpose without wrecking everything

is the title of the truly fantastic talk John Gall gave at Tom Gilb's annual Gilbfest a few weeks ago. You can read the whole thing here. Here's a small selection of the many snippets that spoke to me:
Maximizing efficiency is the error of having a single goal, what William Blake once called “Newton’s sleep.”
Always the more beautiful answer who asks the more difficult question [e.e.cummings]
Evolution always means Co-evolution. The horse eats the grass, the grass grows stronger roots, the horse grows stronger jaws.
What is involved is not simply survival of the fittest, but survival of the fitting-in-est.
The amount of feedback that is built into living organisms differs by many orders of magnitude from the amount that we build into manmade systems.
Flexibility means the willingness to act in response to the feedback message by actually changing how the system works.
There are many Potemkin Villages in operation today, hiding and distracting us from awareness of what’s really going on.
Ignoring feedback merely means that the system will eventually experience a massive unpleasant surprise rather than a small unpleasant surprise.
As Bradford Keeney pointed out, stability is not homeostasis, it’s homeodynamics.
Once you get above that first level, the level of material things and forces, you are dealing with abstractions. In place of physical forces, you have communication—messages, signals. And in place of material things, you have relationships—which are abstractions.
Once we get above the level of physical objects and forces, we are dealing with patterns of interaction, that is, with abstractions.
Abstractions — that is, ideas — don’t die. They can’t be killed. They can’t be exterminated. They just keep coming back, over and over and over. This problem can never be solved if one continues to believe that the so-called "real" world of physical objects and forces is all there is. The Chinese have a word for this. They call it "being stuck in the ten thousand things."
In order to become birds, dinosaurs had to give up being dinosaurs.
If I design a system with no regard for the universe that surrounds it, I will have scanty knowledge of what can impact it.

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