Feedback Loops and Information Systems
Feedback loops are a part of the systems we examine in systems thinking. Our first text book Thinking in Systems tells us we can see the existence of a feedback loop when “the consistent behavior pattern over a long period of time” is observed. My own interpretation is that feedback loops provide information in real time (or something close to real time) to provide the opportunity to make adjustments, pushing toward improvement. Even more simply stated action= information=reaction.
Systems thinking is a methodology for us to analyze and predict behavior by developing an in-depth understanding of the underlying components in the system. The majority of real world problems are complex, and due to this complexity the systems models for these problems will be complex as well. It will be impossible to formulate solutions to complex issues without understanding the feedback loops that influence the systems we are studying.
For example, the Internet is an information system with feedback loops. I began to notice feedback loops at work on the internet this week while I was on my Facebook page. Earlier in the day I had been looking at Hotel options in Las Vegas as I will be travelling to Nevada for a trade show in April. One of the hotels I looked at via their website was the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street. A few minutes later when I visited my Facebook page, one of the ads on the side of my page was for the Golden Nugget hotel in Las Vegas. Obviously there is some correlation between the ads on your Facebook page and websites you have visited, I just had never noticed it before. This has to be based on a feedback loop where Facebook is receiving information as to your browsing habits and then customizing advertising based on these habits. If we take this a step further this could also be used as a predictive tool as well. If you think you might like the Golden Nugget,...