In physics 'work' is “the exertion of force overcoming resistance or producing molecular change” (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1999). There are many definitions of 'work' as a noun and verb in the Concise Oxford Dictionary (Ibid.), and most refer in some manner to energy expenditure. However, it is interesting that we also say the phrase 'it works', when we mean it was successful. That is, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1999) 'work' is used in this sense to denote "having the desired result". Consequently, not only is energy expended, but also the functional achievement is pleasing.
'Work' seems to be a function of living complex systems, with 'work' begetting 'work' and 'work' creating constraints within the system from which further 'functional work' can be extracted. Kaufman (1996) suggests that:
iii. Autonomous agents such as cells coordinate "propagating work" - linked sequences of events many or all of which require that free energy be used to drive the process. Following Atkins, I note that work is the constrained release of energy - as in a steam engine, where the cylinder and piston provide constraints on the expansion of the gas that drives the motion of the piston. But autonomous agents themselves do work to construct the very constraints that channel the release of energy and allow it to constitute work. Constraint begets work begets constraint. Part of the collectively self-consistent coherence of an autonomous agent lies in the fact that each such constraint and the work that is engendered carries out a "task," and the work tasks are linked such that all tasks are performed, all constraints constructed, and the autonomous agent maintains or reproduces itself.
It is the constraints created by the 'work', which can be interpreted as providing the framework for 'successful 'work', or rather that 'successful' constraints channel energy in a manner which propagates or promotes further 'work'/ energy flow in a complex-system/rhizomatic-web/assemblage. For example, an art-work could be said to 'work' when it creates 'constraints' which funnel viewers' perception towards certain thoughts or feelings (viewers do not need to think the same thoughts, but there is a clarity of the 'constraints' in the art-'work' which in turn enhance a clarity or 'Intensity' (in Deleuzian terms (2003)) of thought by the viewer). There is an 'elegance' to the art-work much like 'elegant maths'. Thus is information channeled as well as energy! Pursuing this line of thought (in a cycle), I come to the idea that information channeled is simply patterns in space, time, mass and energy. Patterns come from constraints.... constraints beget work / energy output / information communicated… …. and such a tautology is rife in our complex system of human life and communications as Kaufmann suggests:
‘Useful new concepts arise in codefining clusters. It is fine that F= MA is circular, Poincare might say, for the codefining circle is at the center of a wider web of concepts, many of which have reference to the world; hence, the web of concepts touches, articulates, discriminates, and categorizes the world’ (Kaufmann, 2000 p52).