Friday, December 05, 2008
Emergence and Year Four
December 5th marked the start of year four for San Francisco Crossfit. Anniversaries are clearly times of potential reflection, and turning three left us in a mood to ruminate on who we are and how we've come to be so.
And, no three year old's birthday would be complete without at least some cursory examination of the phenomenon of emergence.
So here goes:
An emergent behaviour or emergent property can appear when a number of simple entities (agents) operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviors as a collective. The processes from which emergent properties result may occur in either the observed or observing system, and can commonly be identified by their patterns of accumulating change, most generally called 'growth'.
For example: Think of a line of ants walking across a yard. No ant knows how long the line is, or even that its a line. The ant just follows a scent or taste and the emergent behavior is dozens of ants following what looks like a long organized line.
Is SFCF our programming?
Is SFCF the sum of our great coaches?
Is SFCF our brilliant athletes?
No. And yes.
Disparate, diverse, eclectic people comprise our extended family of coaches and athletes. Each shows up in an attempt to perform a simple task. Namely to increase their ability to perform work. The algorithm is simple. And yet the resultant community is complex, unique, and rich. While the ant model may not perfectly reflect the depth and breadth of our community, it does illustrate the unique beast that SFCF is as a function of a simple organizing paradigm.
If Crossfit isn't an experiment in Emergent behavior I don't know what is.
So here's to accumulating another year of "change" and "growth".
I'm quite fond of our little ant hill.
Go ahead, chew on that again as you sing happy birthday. Can't wait to see what we look like in another year.
To celebrate, Coach Angel Pr'd with and easy 265 pound clean and jerk today.
at 9:16 PM