This man (above) is in a car aiming a Heckler and Koch gun at the photographer.
This Koch in a car got away with it this week following pressure from the UK government on the French police to not pursue an investigation. That lady sitting next to him is Pippa Middleton, sister-in-law of the future king of England.
The man (above) was in a car with a gun in a sock. He was shot and killed by police aiming a Heckler and Koch at his head, sparking a week of rioting across England, resulting in 5 deaths and £200 million worth of damage.
Take what you will from these two photos, but I would point out to the lazy reader that one is black and urban and the other is white and urbane. What is the degree of correlation between the social status of either of these two people and their eventual fate due to Heckler and Koch firearms?
The systems thinking lesson
The phrase POSIWID, the Purpose Of a System Is What It Does, is a way of taking an alternate view of a system by looking at what it actually does rather than the intentions of the people who govern or designed it. For example, the explicit purpose of an iPad might be to provide a platform for the consumption of electronic media. A POSIWID view could be that the purpose is to signal the owners status and “coolness”.
I think POSIWID is useful as “Although it is dangerous to use this principle to infer intent on the part of individual actors in a system, it is useful for analyzing the emergent behavior of a system. It certainly cuts through a lot of crap about unintended consequences.“
If the two differing outcomes of the gun owners above are considered as emergent outcomes from the same system, what could the POSIWID be?