How Systems Thinking World came to be where it is and where it's seems to be heading at present.
Here's the express version of how we've ended up here!
In the mid 70's I read Beer's Platform for Change and it had a trans-formative impression.
Over the years as I worked in different areas systems thinking remained the center to which I repeatedly returned.
After wandering in the dark wilderness for many years in 1990 Senge's The Fifth Discipline showed up. It served as an awakening of a sleeping monster.
Shortly after The Fifth Discipline there appeared an article in Scientific American about a piece of software called STELLA. What's not to get addicted to since the Mac was already a fixture.
About 1990 The Systems Thinker appeared on the scene serving as a reinforcement for The Fifth Discipline and STELLA. Wallowing like a pig in @#$% would be an understatement.
In 1994 Karash showed up with the LO list which seem to fuel fire well for over 10 years.
In the early 90's ongoing passion for Systems Thinking merged with the fascination for the web and the development of systems-thinking.org was initiated. This remained a passionate endeavor for almost 15 years.
Website archived because I figured I was done with all this.
thefirstdiscipline.org based on the thought that Senge should have labeled Systems Thinking the first discipline, not the fifth discipline. Fortunately this misguided effort didn't last long.
Just before the end of of 2009 a couple of serendipitous events let me to begin pondering a concept for a new effort and since I was feeling quite froggy that day I labeled it Systems Thinking World, even though I wasn't quite sure what it was going to be.
Initially I couldn't figure out whether to implement a wordpress site or a wiki though finding the SystemsWiki.org domain available I thought it was a sign so I started implemetning SystemsWiki.org.
After other discussion groups became annoyed with my posts the STW discussion group as formed on LinkedIn. Seemed more appropriate than Facebook and there were already lots of professional people there. And Systems Thinking World seems sufficiently presumptuous.
I quickly realized that the Wiki and discussions weren't quite enough so I implemented several Systems Thinking courses in Moodle. The environment felt right and it was difficult to argue with the price. There were over a thousand people that attended the courses with rather encouraging feedback though the comfort level on my part didn't last long.
Sometime in the first quarter of 2010 I connected with Scott Fortmann-Roe and Insight Maker. This was something I'd been waiting for a long time. Finally a modeling & simulation environment that was web based, multi-user, and free. What's not to like. We were off and running and have been ever since.
Fascination with Moodle was waning because I just felt uncomfortable developing in the environment. It seemed way too structured and constrained. As such toward the end of 2011 and during 2012 I did quite a few webinars. The content felt right, I enjoyed it, though scheduling was a nightmare, especially with attendees from 24 time zones.
Somewhere in the middle of 2012 I decided to write a series of book based on the webinar content. Four of the five were completed and sold as Kindle books on Amazon, until about the middle of 2012 that is. The book form was just wrong even though they were ebooks.
Amidst my restlessness I reconnected with Khan Academy. I say reconnected as I went there to create and account and found I already had one. I guess the first time it just didn't connect thought this time it did - big time. I spent a couple months wandering through the videos. I really liked the conceptual model of short well structured nuggets of learning.
As I became more and more taken with the Khan Academy model I became less pleased with the books on Amazon so I unpublished them. Concepts had evolved to a point where the books were out of date anyway. I envisioned lots of concept modules related to Systems Thinking that people could string together as learning threads. As such I implemented the webinar/book content in videos embedded in SystemsWiki. I was really flying -- at least for a while.
In support of the One Plus One Equals? concept development the Systems Thinking World YouTube channel was established as a repository for associated videos.
The thought then was that maybe an interactive ebook would provide a great learning environment. The technology was driving right to the brink with a complete version of Insight Maker embedded in the ebook. Quite a feat though as soon as it was done it was realized it was just another learning step. Whatever was developed needed to be easily updated on an ongoing basis and ebook app just didn't make the grade.
The most appropriate metaphor seemed best depicted by a metro map where there were different lines and some of the stops were on two or more lines. The problem was trying to implement this in the Wiki environment turned out to be similar to a nightmare. You could implement it though every time you wanted to make a change the effort involved was prohibitive.
I had been using a piece of software called PersonalBrain for 16 years waiting for it to develop to a point where it supported what I was looking for in terms of a web environment. As of the 2nd quarter of 2013 I finally figured it was there. As such I embarked on what I consider to be a multi-year effort to migrate SystemsWiki.org to STW Net. During the migration the two environment have been integrated.
Shortly after theBrain meltdown the Mohr brothers showed up with Kumu. Still under development though moving in a most promising direction. After six months of working with Kumu it seemed solid enough to attempt to implement the learning threads model. The more we worked with it the more promising it seemed.
The STIA+ Systems Thinking Certification Program was roughed out over a weekend with existing content and offered as a 12 week program. The program launched 3 weeks later with over 150 participants. The program is due to end the 4th week of July and the environment will serve as an every developing for the program participants and will be improved for the next offering in the fall.
Currently the Systems Thinking Certification Program is being reconfigured into Enabling a Better Tomorrow as it is perceived to be a more appropriate focus. Systems Thinking is a supporting perspective for that intent.
In Nov 2014 we started building courses in Udemy as there seems to be numerous improvements in student instructor interaction supported in this environment.
At this point there are 19,600+ members of the STW discussion group and 26,000+ register users of Insight Maker. The daily traffic and the content of the discussions on the LinkedIn group, SystemsWiki.org, the YouTube channel along with ongoing feedback continues to be quite encouraging. Expect change to continue.