||This article may be too technical for most readers to understand. (January 2008)|
A systempunkt is a point in a system reactive to many small interactions, which through a network of objects in a surrounding environment or dependent network, exhibits a cascading collapse in the specific system and possibly the networked components. A systempunkt may be vulnerable to operational failure, but it is neither vulnerable because of operation or location, but rather its operation interacts through communication, exchange or movement of objects and these disrupted dependencies of flows of data, or goods will be the failure when it is no longer operating. The effects on the network are more significant than those on the specific object.
The etymology is modern and is a portmanteau word derived from the German term 'schwerpunkt' and the English language word 'system'. The German term from Blitzkrieg warfare's schwerpunkt literally means 'heavy point' and is often translated as centre of gravity or focal point. It is used here in relation to its military context of use, in which it describes the focal point of an attack against an enemy line, usually at some vulnerable part of that line, which will lead to the collapse in the enemy line of defense. But whereas a schwerpunkt focuses on a single object of attack, the Systempunkt is representative of network effects. A link may fail, not necessarily the weakest, but the effects on the network may continue to cascade, as an avalanche effect that spreads throughout the system. Repercussions may be continuous, and exhibit repeating failures that have aftershocks for the whole network.
Descriptively it has some similarities to Heinz Guderian's adage “Nicht kleckern, klotzen!” (“Don't fiddle, smash!”) though it reverses the intent and effect and intends to actualize cascading events through domino type dependencies. In practice, "Fiddle until it smashes". Computer servers that fail from a Denial of service attack may no longer support the application or user base that depends on them.
It should be considered a superset of simple sabotage. But has a more grandiose objective in the collapse of a dependent network or state social order.
A systempunkt that supported a highly dependent node link graph, would be an example of Black swan theory.