well it deals with complex adaptive systems and what I think is special about holland's approach is the fact that he draws general principles from naturally occuring cas and uses them to set up a sort of classification to work with now, while I was reading this I was struck by the discongruency of placing this things together while at the same time they were as a whole constructing an interesting basis for synthesis and collaboration
some info on holland + hidden order you better read at http://www.reason.com/9612/bk.miller.html
but here I take out the structural components I was talking about:
Holland begins, therefore, by organizing the properties and mechanisms that he argues are universal among cas. Very briefly, these are:
Aggregation. Complexity emerges from interactions of simpler components, often themselves complex systems emergent from interactions of yet simpler components: Bodies are made of organs, made of tissues, made of cells.
Tagging. Agents carry recognizable markers allowing other agents to suspect which ones have particular properties. Examples include trademarks, pheromones, and the immune system's ability to spot past invaders.
Nonlinearity. Agents interact, rather than just adding together.
Flows. Agents organize into networks of potential interactions. One interaction triggers another, causing effects to flow through these networks.
Diversity. Agents evolve to fill diverse niches, which are defined by how the agent interacts with other agents. Niches usually outlive their current occupants, and the change of niches over time has a much greater effect on an ecosystem than changes to individual agents. For markets, if agents are businesses then niches are industries.
Internal models. Agents experience internal changes that result from sensing an external world. Such changes bias actions toward those likely to be effective in a world that produced those sensations. These internal states are often a form of tacit knowledge of the world–they embody a discovery of how to exploit a regularity of the world without representing the regularity itself. Evolution adapted the eye to facts about optics, but nowhere in the eye can one find a representation or explanation of those facts.
Building blocks. Components are reused for multiple purposes. This is the flip side of aggregation. When businesses are not vertically integrated, for instance, a supplier serves multiple companies. These independent suppliers learn less about any one company, instead learning more general lessons by serving a diversity of companies.