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Looking Ahead

We hope you found the Exploring Emergence essay interesting and provocative. If you are interested in further explorations on the topic of emergence, you should check the following:

  • StarLogo is a massively-parallel modeling environment, intended to help people (particularly students) explore decentralized systems and emergent phenomena.
  • The Phantom Fishtank is a programmable toolkit for exploring cellular automata (such as the ones described in this essay). It was designed many years ago for the computers at that time, but it remains a classic. It is available from The Logo Foundation.
  • Artificial Life Online is a good source of information about Artificial Life research. This research uses computational media to explore and create life-like behaviors.
  • There are a number of good general-interest books on these topics, including The Recursive Universe (by William Poundstone), Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams (by Mitchel Resnick), Artificial Life (by Steven Levy), and Complexity (by Mitchell Waldrop).

We created the Exploring Emergence essay not only to explore the topic of emergence, but also to explore the idea of active essays. We believe that active essays -- that is, essays with examples that can be played with and modified -- provide an exciting new form of narrative expression. Exploring Emergence was part of our effort to explore the possibilities and limitations of this new form.

We'd love to hear your reactions to our essay. Please send email to Mitchel Resnick or Brian Silverman.

Go to the start of Exploring Emergence or to the Contents page.

Mitchel Resnick and Brian Silverman
Epistemology and Learning Group
MIT Media Laboratory

Last modified: 2/4/96