Structural Attractors

When human beings or other agents construct a physical of conceptual structure, which then affects human interaction dynamics and behavior in a manner similar to ecosystem attractor, we call this a structural attractor.

Power Station and Reservoir on South Branch of Raritan River in NJ July 2016
Pumping Station and Reservoir on Raritan River, South Branch , J July 2016

Within the ecosystem, there is a point with relative net power in the flow of a river.  Human beings gather here and use this place to build a dam and a reservoir. These are structures that are used to capture and store the water itself, but more subtly also the power of the river flow. This structural attractor draws activity toward it. As a consequence of this build-up of structure, it is easy for the original mathematical meaning of “complexity attractor” to become distorted and more difficult to justify logically. But there are clues that can help us tell the difference between attractors in the ecosystem and structural attractors build by human beings.

Bridge crosses the Raritan River, South Branch, NJ 2016.
Bridge crosses the Raritan River, South Branch, NJ 2016.

Over time other structural attractors are built which make it easy to get to and travel around the area. These, in turn, attract additional organized activities to them and to the area.  A bridge draws passersby to cross at a certain place on the river rather than other, for example. Structures built by agents change the ecosystem such that ecosystem attractors and structural attractors become difficult to distinguish in human experience.

As a consequence of this build up of structure, it is easy for the original mathematical meaning of “complexity attractor” to become distorted and more difficult to logically justify. But there are clues that can help us tell the difference between attractors in the ecosystem and structural attractors build by human beings..

IMG_20160702_130805894It’s easy to spot the structural attractors just as it is easy to spot a bridge through a stand of trees. Engineered structures are characterized by familiar straight lines and geometric shapes that are rarely (if ever) seen in nature. Think about it: Human beings signal our presence by building things. Further, we build them the way we understand the world not the way the that physical object naturally occur in the world.

Structural attractors work for us because they use the simple forms we are able to model mathematically. This is the efficacious use of simplicity on the other side of the complexity.

There are many examples of how structural attractors are used in business and in leadership to organize activity: Warehouses, transportation hubs, tax free development zones, tax loopholes, even business plans, project plan, budgets, and strategic frameworks. One can even think of scientific theories, “principles” and “beliefs” as structural attractors in the sense that they are constructed to provide benefits, and there presence creates a positive feedback loop within the ecosystem.