sitemap Dr. Randall Whitaker / Enola Gaia
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Dr. Randall Whitaker / Enola Gaia
Umeå Universitet Logo

...and Prodigal Son...
Institutionen för Informatik

Northrop Grumman Information Technology

Autopoiesis & Enaction: The Observer Web

The primary Internet nexus on the subjects of autopoiesis and enaction (the theories of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela -- the Biology of Cognition and Enactive Cognitive Science).

Information Warfare

An evolving set of materials on military and paramilitary exploitation of cyberspace as a venue for power projection. Introductory and reference material on the emerging post-modern warform. Samurai semiotics or free-form hype-pretext? You decide!

CoGnosis and CoPraxis: Facilitating Interactivity

This Webspace is a developing series of materials on human interactivity and ongoing attempts to facilitate it through information technology (IT) -- the research area of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) and the development field of groupware.

Who I Am

A personal and professional summary; my affiliation with Institutionen för Informatik.

    Curriculum Vitae My Research
(My primary personal Webspace)
Cont@ct Me
(Address information)




I fully support freedom of personal expression in cyberspace.

These Web pages represent my own opinions and eccentricities. Nothing you see here should be attributed to Umeå Universitet, Logicon, Northrop Grumman, the United States Air Force, or any other entity -- real, fictional, virtual, or simply lurking in the shadows monitoring your visit to these Web pages.



My Affiliation with Institutionen för Informatik  
In 1988, I was offered a position with the Swedish Agency for Administrative Development (Statskontoret). Because I was preparing to write my doctoral dissertation in computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I said I'd do it if I could complete my Ph.D. in Sweden. Professor Kristo Ivanov kindly agreed to 'adopt' me here at Institutionen för Informatik, Umeå Universitet.

Tack så mycket, Kristo!

During the next four years, I essentially undertook a second Ph.D. program based on systems theory, cybernetics, the 'systems approach' of C. West Churchman, and the Scandinavian perspective on social and political aspects of technological intervention. This agenda allowed me to expand my understanding of information technology (IT) issues, and the experience allowed me to resolve my current focus on systemic approaches to human (inter-)action and human-computer interaction.

A 1993 job opportunity led me away from the Umeå Informatik 'family' and back to the United States. Since then, I've maintained an affiliation with Institutionen för Informatik as an Adjunct Researcher and 'prodigal son'.

Who I Am

"My Day Job"

Generally speaking, I am an information and social systems researcher originally trained in anthropology and psychology. Some of my recent 'incarnations' include:

  • Office of Naval Research Doctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Consultant: Human factors and organizational impacts of information technology
  • Knowledge engineer / Senior systems analyst: Swedish Agency for Administrative Development (Statskontoret)
  • Assistant Professor (for Research): Department of Informatics, Umeå Universitet
  • Chief CSCW researcher: USAF Armstrong Laboratory, Human Engineering Division
  • "Resident Mad Scientist": Information Analysis and Exploitation Branch, Human Effectiveness Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

I'm currently employed by Northrop Grumman Information Technology as a Senior Scientist.

My current professional research interests focus on systemic approaches to:

  • Systemic modeling of human (inter-)action
  • Enterprise and process (re-)design
  • Human-computer interaction (HCI)
  • Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW)
  • Knowledge acquisition and modeling
  • Information warfare (IW)
  • Work-centered interface design

If you want the gory details, you can browse my curriculum vitae.

Who I Am

"Myself and My True Vocation"

The bad news is that a definition for myself must remain considerably blurred. The good news (in my opinion) is that this is a result of my self still being under construction. As a sort of divinatory exercise, I recently processed permutations of my name through an anagram generator. The picture coalescing from the resultant fragments:

The kid ran awry. Why a kid errant? Possessed of wild talk, rare hand, he could hardly accept all earth a wan kindred wherein each airy trend hawk will dully think ready war as no more than an idle wrath lark. Award it rank hell! Drain all hatred, waken! Embracing life as a raw naked thrill, the wary kid ran a different course, his heraldry a weird arty ankh, his motto:

Dare think awry!

I'm also the editor and steward of The Observer Web -- the oldest and largest Internet nexus on the biology of cognition / autopoietic theory / enactive cognitive science (the theories of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela). This role grew out of my adoption of Maturana and Varela's autopoietic theory as my primary theoretical orientation.

I continue with my 'private scholarship', which is segregated from my work at my 'day job'. My current personal research interests focus on:

  • Autopoiesis and enaction
  • Extensions to autopoietic theory
  • Constructivist epistemology
  • Semiotics and cognition
  • Human interactivity in cyberspace
  • Electronic commerce (eCommerce)

Who or What
"Enola Gaia"?
The B-29 bomber Enola Gay was the vehicle for the world's inaugural nuclear attack on Japan.

Enola Gaia connotes an envisioned vehicle in the service of something considerably more global and more benign. All my computers have been named Enola Gaia, and I use this label as the rubric for all my private work. Some would call Enola Gaia my free-floating signifier or my teleological meme. I think of her as my totem...


Dr. Randall Whitaker
Northrop Grumman Information Technology
PO Box 317258
Dayton OH


Randall Whitaker, Randy Whitaker, autopoiesis, autopoietic theory, biology of cognition, cognitive engineering, HCI, CSCW, groupware, decision support systems, cognitive task analysis, enaction, enactive cognitive science, Maturana, Varela, work-centered support systems, information warfare, netwar, cyberwar, IW, human factors, interface design, participatory design, knowledge acquisition, knowledge elicitation, Enola Gaia, second-order cybernetics, radical constructivism, semiotics.