Modeling high-resolution broadband discourse in complex adaptive systems

Kevin Dooley, Steven Corman, Robert D. McPhee, Timothy Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Numerous researchers and practitioners have turned to complexity science to better understand human systems. Simulation can be used to observe how the microlevel actions of many human agents create emergent structures and novel behavior in complex adaptive systems. In such simulations, communication between human agents is often modeled simply as message passing, where a message or text may transfer data, trigger action, or inform context. Human communication involves more than the transmission of texts and messages, however. Such a perspective is likely to limit the effectiveness and insight that we can gain from simulations, and complexity science itself. In this paper, we propose a model of how close analysis of discursive processes between individuals (high-resolution), which occur simultaneously across a human system (broadband), dynamically evolve. We propose six different processes that describe how evolutionary variation can occur in texts-recontextualization, pruning, chunking, merging, appropriation, and mutation. These process models can facilitate the simulation of high-resolution, broadband discourse processes, and can aid in the analysis of data from such processes. Examples are used to illustrate each process. We make the tentative suggestion that discourse may evolve to the "edge of chaos." We conclude with a discussion concerning how high-resolution, broadband discourse data could actually be collected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-85
Number of pages25
JournalNonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Broadband discourse
  • Communication
  • Complex adaptive system
  • Self-organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics


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