Friday, August 24, 2007

Creating a Common Language?

When thinking about the notion of patterns and pattern languages I’m struck by the idea of constructing some sort of common language by which various peoples can communicate ideas regarding systems based design and problem solving.

However, I’m not completely convinced that the pattern languages in any of the current instances truly enable a convergence of sorts that would really allow for a common language to emerge.

The reason for this concern derives from my interest in community sustainability and participatory processes of planning, particularly within developing countries. Often these areas are culturally complex, which can translate into differing conceptions of what a pattern, might be, or even how a re-occurring problem might be framed. Along with problems of illiteracy, and just basic linguistic barriers it seems obvious that it would be extremely difficult to operationalize these patterns for use in a global multi-lingual context. However, visual linguistics does present a possible opportunity to address this short-coming

Therefore it seems to me that the visual processes of mapping these patterns to represent their useful relationships to one another in context specific ways is needed before we can begin to make the claims of usability that so many want to make. That is not to say that various patterns and pattern languages are not being used in real life, but it is my feeling that this theory would be much more usable if the information, models and resources were more readily available and conceptually accessible.

Likewise, based upon what I have seen developed by the community, the number of, and usefulness of the tools available are lacking. And like many models, the complexity that emerges from the visual language makes communication across knowledge disciplines and cultures overtly difficult.

However, I would hope that a more effective approach that incorporates a face-to-face as well as technologically mediated process could be developed to address this critical deficiency.

No comments: