Or one might get a feel for an Open social system by contemplating its opposite. At Yuma Territorial Prison, our intrepid travelers report,
If a prisoner did something wrong such as cussing, gambling or if a guard said a prisoner did something wrong they would be put in "The Dark Cell". This was a cell that looked like a big iron box made of iron grate floor, walls and ceiling that was only five feet tall. They would just shove the people in there and at times each prisoner had only about a two square foot place to stand or squat. When the door was closed it was dark.
Decisions about the operation of the system are made far away in time and space. Change comes slowly, if at all. You may do nothing about it.
Consider now visiting a fund-raising event for a non-profit organization, held at a community garden on a Saturday morning.
It's a totally Open system. You are there by your own freedom of choice, for reasons of your own. You do what you wish while you are there, with no expectations from others. If you become sufficiently uncomfortable with anything you are free to wander away, to leave if need be, without explanation. If the hosts wish you to remain it is up to them to make it worth your while, to entice you, to reward your presence with respect and appreciation.
Closed System and Open System. It's a continuum. Every social organization falls somewhere along the spectrum, from marriages to families, churches to schools, fraternities to professional societies, businesses to book clubs. How much choice does a five-year old kindergartner enjoy in her school room?
In a complex society, each serves its purposes. Beyond the needs of the larger group, the important thing is to match the needs of the inhabitants with the nature of the system. As with all organizations, people create them, people maintain them.
And the more local the organization, the more they can change them.