Friday, November 2, 2007

Constructing a Pattern Language for Community Centered Information Systems

Returning back to the original focus of this blog I have begun to start thinking of the patterns that might be useful in constructing effective communication systems for natural resource management. The key here is not only providing the environmental information necessary for successful planning, but these systems are centered upon the human element, a central piece of systems design that can be overlooked or in many cases still under-appreciated.

Now, I can think of some pieces that might be useful for environmental monitoring of sustainability focused development such as, web-based GIS, systems modeling applications, weather and climate charts/graphs and maps. However, beyond the modeling and mapping applications that could be integrated, what other elements might we consider in constructing effective information systems?

The L.V. project presents a number of useful pointers that could be utilized for constructing these systems. Some of these patterns have already been mentioned, but I think it might be more useful to define the domains of interaction that could be taking place within the context of designing such systems. As a start this might be more effective than merely listing relevant patterns. Instead if we understand the meta-patterns at play then perhaps we can be more effective in understanding how our list of patterns integrates with one another.

(Source: Schuler, D. (1996). “New Community Networks: Wired for Change.”)

While this interconnected diagram presents some useful things to think about when considering how systems might need to enable community development, I think that environment must be added. With the Environment added to this diagram, I think it is possible to get a clearer picture of what we would hope for in a thriving, sustainable community.

The next step is to identify the patterns that fit under these larger headings. Once we have defined the patterns in relation to the larger elements at play then perhaps we can begin thinking about the systems and technologies that might be supportive of people’s movement in actualizing these fundamental elements.

Now, these patterns seems to address a number of technical as well as human-ceneterd patterns. However, the pattern langauge we see emerging remains at a fairly high-level and there needs to be an extension of these patterns or pattern lanaguage to include the lower-level or more specific patterns related to systems design.

In the next few posts we will explore these patterns as possible contributions to the construction of a gerneal P.L. for community centered environmental informatics.

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