The book presents the story of "Project Cybersyn", a distributed decision support system partially implemented in Chile during the brief presidency of socialist Salvador Allende (Nov. 1970-Spet.1973), terminated with Pinochet's coup d'état.
Project Cybersyn embedded most of the ideas of cybernetician Stafford Beer, involved in the project by chilean Finance Minister Fernando Flores. The foundations of Cybersyn rest on the Viable System Model, a layered structure representation of an organisation (i.e., a nation economical system), based on feedback cycles between its components, which make them capable to adapt to the changes of the socio-economical environment.
The book shows how complex social, politic and economic relationships determine technological innovations, and how areas of the world marginalised by this type of holistic studies have instead historical -and contemporary- relevance.
This book presents a history of ‘Project Cybersyn’, an early computer and social network developed in Chile during the socialist presidency of Salvador Allende (1970–1973) to regulate the growing social property area and manage the transition of Chile’s economy from capitalism to socialism. Under the guidance of cybernetician Stafford Beer, and interdisciplinary Chilean teams (Maturana, Varela...) designed cybernetic models of factories within
the nationalised sector and created a network for the rapid transmission of economic data between the government, the factory floor, and communities needs.
This project, stopped by the Pinochet dictature, is the unique example of social networking used with social objectives, instead for making profits like today with the emerging US-based monopolies. Only today, again in Latinamerica, the countries of ALBA are restarting to work in the same direction with the FLOK initiative (in Ecuador) and with Free and Open Source P2P Web Operating Systems (in Venezuela). Remebering us that science and the technology are not neutral, and the ability to shape them is a key elements for keeping independence and sovereignity, and Computer and Communication Technologies are always political.
Thanks to this book the author won the 2012 Edelstein Prize and the 2012 Computer History Museum Prize .
A book to read.