Kevin Kelly's book Out of Control is a fascinating book full of
fascinating ideas reaching across the board from artificial
intelligence, evolution, biology, ecology, robotics and more to explore
complexity, cybernetics and self-organising systems in an accessible
and engaging way.
But in reading Out of Control, I found it suffering from a number of
frustrating flaws: Not only is it way too long-winded, it is also
almost completely void of meta-text to help the reader understand
what Kelly is trying to do with his book (having read the book, I'm
Indeed, reading the book I got the feeling that Kelly was trying to
combine several different books into one: There is a fascinating study
of self-sustaining systems. But there is also a sort of business-book
take on network economy. And an extended meditation on evolution and
I'm sure that to Kelly, all of these things are tightly interconnected.
But he doesn't explain these interrelations very well to the reader.
argument is that as technology becomes ever more complex, it becomes
more akin to biological systems (eco-systems, vivisystems,
interdependent and co-evolving organisms). But because the individual
chapters are set up as essays on their own, there is often little to
tie these wildly different ideas together.
I would have preferred a much shorter book, more narrowly focused on
the idea of self-organising systems. The whole text of the original
book is easily available online at Kelly's own website,
so I thought: Why not remix the
online text to make such a book?
So I did.
Remixing this work has mostly consisted of removing a number of
chapters which I find distract or confuse the central points of the
book. I have left the order of chapters unaltered.
In addition, I have rewritten the introductory chapter completely using
parts of the chapter "Holes and wholes and spaces", in order to refocus
the text from "the new biology of machines" to self-organizing systems
as such. In doing so, I've added a few lines from Wikipedia's
on Cybernetics in order to introduce the discipline of
Writing this introduction, I have sought to provide the necessary
meta-text to present the book's goal and structure all at once. I hope
that this will be help readers make sense of the many diverse topics
and ideas covered in the book.
I have left the chapters themselves untouched, with a few exceptions: I
have cut a substantial part of the chapter "Machines with attitude, I
have added a bit on co-control to the chapter "The emergence of
I cut small parts from the final chapter.
It is important for me to note that the remix is not meant to be
disrespectful to Kevin Kelly's original work in any
soon after putting this remix online, I sent a note with a link to
Kevin Kelly to make him aware of the remix, hoping that he would approve.
He did approve. Much more than I expected. And it didn't take him long to reply:
the remix! I wish you had been my editor. There is only one
thing missing from this fantastic remix - a better title. I was never happen
with the book's title and now that it is more focused, the need is even
greater. What would you call it?
Initially, I hadn't
considered changing the title as I wanted to make it as clear as
possible where the material came from. Good titles are notoriously
difficult to find, and I'm sure that Kevin has thought quite a bit
about this one.
It was the notion of bootstrapping and self-organization that had kept me reading the book
initially: the recurring patterns of self-sustaining systems, which I
knew were to be summed up at the end of the book. What appealed to me
was the fact that the book not only describes self-organisation but also invites further
So I picked my title with that in mind: "Bootstrapping Complexity" plays on the fact that the book not only describes how complexity comes about but also how complex a venture self-organization really is. In this way, the title meant to signal a positive empowerment to explore self-organization - both by
reading the book and by experimenting on the basis of the book.
II - Hive mind
with an attitude
VI - The natural ﬂux
VII - The emergence of control
- An open
Nine Laws of God