Thursday, August 23, 2007

Patterns for Communicative Change

So here is an introductory rant inaugurating this blog:

Liberating Voices! is only a short way off from being published, and once published will represent yet another wave of pattern thinking as a conceptual approach to the design and organization of knowledge for useful and "life-affirming" social empowerment.

Pattern thinking in this sense is derived directly from Christopher Alexander's theory that defined a pattern as, "a careful description of a perennial solution to a recurring problem--” and “A pattern language is a network of patterns that call upon one another. Patterns help us remember insights and knowledge about design and can be used in combination to create solutions" (Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein, Jacobson, Fiksdahl-King & Angel, 1977).

This is not so new of an idea but over the past 40 years or so Alexander's thinking has served to influence software engineers, environmental designers, community planners, and social activists. Yet, this appears to have only become increasingly relevant as people have begun to recognize the complex interactions between the social, built and natural systems of the world.

Yet, even as Alexander recognizes himself there is still much work to be done whether it is in the development of architectural patterns, ecological patterns or communicative patterns. In fact, I would assert that despite the various domains or disciplines that encapsulate these differing pattern languages there is a growing need to understand how these various pattern languages can, and do interact. This is particularly relevant in light of the increased awareness of systems thinking and the inherent interconnectedness being brought to bear through the diffusion of information, knowledge and environmental degradation (as just a few examples).

I would propose that the various groups working on these different domains get together in order to conceive of ways in which these different domains overlap and how they may be used to influence one another and thereby enable more effective use from integrated view point.

For instance, the communicative patterns developed by the Public Sphere Project (Liberating Voices! Research Community) could be useful to the enabling of ecological patterns developed by the Conservation Economy, whereas those working on environmental design in an urban context could be informed by those developing the Conservation Economy.

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