Brand, Stewart. Time and Responsibility.
New York: 1999
Pages 34 and 83
In recent years a few scientists (such as R.V. O'Neill and C.S. Holling) have been probing a similar issue in ecological systems: How do they manage change, and how do they absorb and incorporate shocks? The answer appears to lie in the relationship between components in a system that have different change rates and different scales of size. Instead of breaking under stress like something brittle these systems yield as if they were malleable. Some parts respond quickly to the shock, allowing slower parts to ignore the shock and maintain their steady duties of system continuity.
The combination of fast and slow components makes the system resilient, along with the way the differently paced parts affect each other. Fast learns, slow remembers. Fast proposes, slow disposes. Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous. Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and occasional revolution. Slow and big controls small and fast by constraint and constancy. Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power. All durable dynamic systems have this sort of structure; it is what makes them adaptable and robust….
Fixing digital discontinuity sounds like exactly the kind of problem that fast-moving computer technology should be able to solve; but it can't because fast-moving computer technology is the problem. By constantly accelerating its own capabilities (making faster, cheaper, sharper tools that make ever faster, cheaper, sharper tools) the technology is just as constantly self-obsolescing. The great creator is the great eraser.