Formations like flocks of birds, schools of fish, giant termite “cathedrals,” urban riots, and multi-author works like Wikipedia definitions surprise us with their unpredictable, evolving, self-organizing behaviour. What these have in common is an unusual quality called "emergence."
Emergence is a process occurring in complex systems -- physical, biological, social, economic, hybrid -- in which novel forms and behaviours arise through the interaction of a system's elements. Emergent patterns are observable at every scale from a microscopic crystal to a galaxy's iconic spiral. These patterns are surprising to analysts because they have properties not present at lower levels, and so they are invisible to reductionist methods. Emergence invites us to appreciate wholistic inquiry especially in addressing challenges, opportunities and innovation in complex social systems.
This talk invites us on a visual exploration of "faces of emergence" with a purpose: to better understand that most desirable of business and policy goals: innovation. We'll examine the hypotheses that innovation involves emergence and that by modeling emergence through visual analytics we may illuminate many of innovation's darker mysteries."
Van Alstyne & Logan, 2007 - http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/artifact/article/view/1360
sLab Visualizing Emergence project - http://slab.ocadu.ca/project/visualizing-emergence