Remembering Ranulph Glanville

Our main keynote speaker from RSD3, the illustrious Dr. Ranulph Glanville, passed away last week, after a brief stay in hospital following a rapid turn in his cancer journey.  Ranulph was a first-generation systems thinker, an architect, designer, and holder of two doctorates. He was very active in the cybernetics community, the 5-year term President of the American Society for Cybernetics and a lifelong researcher and brilliant raconteur in the scholarly worlds he participated in. Ranulph wrote at least 170 published papers, and was a significant influence on the new generation of systems and cybernetics scholars.  His posted CV is informative and points to the breadth of his work.

While Ranulph’s Wikipedia entry looks impressive at first glance, it is woefully incomplete and sparse. We encourage his colleagues to update the page with known facts, and objective “Wikipedia-acceptable” stories. Ranulph was quite the live orator, and these summaries do not share links or references to his lectures and influential presentations.Ranulph_Glanville_s

I first heard of his passing from Ray Ison, president of the ISSS, who also wrote: “According to his wife Aartje, Ranulph died relatively free of pain and suffering. Over the past year Aartje and Ranulph have faced his fatal illness together, with admirable courage, and as undeterred in their regular day to day life as possible, traveling together, adding an extension to their home, and working tirelessly to support and enrich others.”

Ranulph presented his las major talk as our main keynote at RSD3 in Oslo, October this year – historically rich, colourful, inspirational, intimate and witty. Speaking without a slide deck, he noted, perhaps to school all of us relying on fixed presentations to manage our overly complex talks:

“I think slides are destructive, with their plodding continuity”.

And then held forth  on second order cybernetics and the functions of resiliency, and the relationship of design to cybernetics in the history of systems science.  A digital audio recording of the keynote recorded by David Forrest is now available, as well the following video posted by Thomas Fischer.

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