Modularity & Systems Design

Systems are more stable, and easier to repair and update when they are built using simple, compact and minimally bundled components. In systems design this principle is referred to as modularity.

In technical fields a transition to modular components, and standardized connection points increases efficiency and radically reduces waste. Rather than throwing away an entire device or system when one component breaks or becomes outdated a modular approach facilitates repairs and upgrades.

When rebuilding an socioeconomic system the modularity principle is equally important. Rather than attempting to a provide monolithic, one size fits all solution, functions of the old system can be replaced incrementally; component by component.

The same principle applies when challenging an ideological order. Ideas replicate and spread much more efficiently among a population when they are simple, compact and minimally bundled. Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” to represent these minimal clusters of information and illustrate how ideas and beliefs are subject to the laws of evolution. Memes are essentially modular components, analogous to genes.

For an idea to survive it must be adapted to its environment. Ideological habitat dictates selective pressures. Rather than attempting to replace world views in their entirety it is much more effective to propagate simple concepts which are compatible with a wide range of belief systems. An example of this can be found in the Local Resilience meme.

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