Coevolving Innovations

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Positioning “A Pattern Language” more like “Creating Order of”, then “The Timeless Way of Building” more like “Negotiating Order with”, was a productive framing to discuss the systems theory inside Christopher Alexander’s thinking (as well as positioning “The Nature of Order“).

The purpose of a workshop on “Negotiating Order with Generative Pattern Language” at PLoP 2017 was to open up discussions that could deepen the foundational understanding in linkages between pattern language and systems thinking. At least three of us routed to Vancouver BC for a Monday morning start, in a quick trip from the Purplsoc meeting in Austria that finished on Saturday.  The PLoP program emphasizing writers’ workshops meant that our 90-minute dialogue didn’t conflict with any presentations.

On the audio recording, active participants in the sensemaking included Helene Finidori and Christian Kohls.  With a more relaxed pace, the open time after the slides were completed allowed some pattern language novices to also have questions answered.

PLoP 2017

The frame for discussion was slides that had previously been posted on the Coevolving Commons.

The digital audio recording has been matched up with slides, for a less ambiguous viewing as a web video.

March 10th, 2018

Posted In: pattern language, systems

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Pattern language is not for wicked problems, said Max Jacobson, coauthor with Christopher Alexander of the 1977 A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction.  In addition, the conventional definition of an Alexandrian pattern as “a solution to a problem in context” when applied to social change might better use the term “intervention”, rather than “solution”.

These are two of the major ideas that emerged at Purplsoc 2017 conference last October.  A 90-minute workshop was run in parallel with other breakouts.

For about the first hour, vocal participants included Max Jacobson (who had given a plenary talk on “A Building is not a Turkish Carpet“), Christian Kohls (who gave a plenary talk on “Patterns for Creative Space“) and Peter Baumgarnter (one of the Purlpsoc chairs).

As an impetus to discussion, we stepped through slides that had been posted on the Coevolving Commons.

For people who would like the next-best experience to being there, the slides have now been matched up with the digital audio recording, for viewing as a web video.

For devices decoupled from the Internet, downloadable video files are portable.

Video H.264 MP4 WebM

March 3rd, 2018

Posted In: pattern language, philosophy, systems

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What if a pattern language was opened up to contemporaneous research into wicked problems, the systems approach, ecological epistemology, hierarchy theory, and interactive value?  This 30-minute presentation at Purplsoc 2017 last October aimed to provide a broader context to a social change community focused on works of Christopher Alexander.

This talk was a complement to “Pattern Manual for Service Systems Thinking” presented a year earlier, at PUARL 2016.  Last year, the agenda was centered on the approach from Christopher Alexander, and divergences due to the changing in domain from the built environment to service systems.

The slides on the Coevolving Commons are dense.  I had showed them at the poster session in the day preceding, and promised to spend more time speaking to them in the workshop scheduled for the next day.

For 2017, the view looked beyond Alexander, to related research both at Berkeley, and elsewhere in the systems community.  The agenda was in 3 major sections (here expanded with more detailed overview of the middle section):

  • 1. What is multiparadigm inquiry?
  • 2. Where have (and might have) (1960s-2010s) paradigms influenced generative pattern language?
    • a. Over 50 years, Christopher Alexander and coauthors evolved concepts and language in built environments

January 19th, 2018

Posted In: pattern language, services, systems

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At U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s, Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel and C. West Churchman could have had lunch together.  While disciplinary thinking might lead novices to focus only on each of pattern language, wicked problems and the systems approach, there are ties (as well as domain-specific distinctions) between the schools.

Circa 1968-1970: Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel, West Churchman

Circa 1968-1970: Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel, West Churchman

West Churchman joined Berkeley in 1957, and initiated master’s and doctoral programs in operations research at the School of Business Administration.   From 1964 to 1970, Churchman was associate director and research philosopher at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, directing its social sciences program.  After his retirement in 1981, Churchman taught in the Peace and Conflict Studies program for 13 years.

Horst Rittel came to the Berkeley College of Environmental Design in 1963, the same year that dean William Wurster recruited Christopher Alexander.  In 1973, Rittel split his time between Berkeley and the architecture faculty at the University of Stuttgart, where he founded the Institut für Grundlagen der Planung.

Christopher Alexander became a cofounder of the Center for Environmental Structure at Berkeley in 1967, gradually moving outside of the university by 2000.

The tie between Churchman and Rittel are well-documented, in a 1967 article in Management Science.

Professor Horst Rittel of the University of California Architecture Department has suggested in a recent seminar that the term “wicked problem” refer to that class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing. The adjective “wicked” is supposed the describe the mischievous and even evil quality of these problems, where proposed “solutions” often turn out to be worse than the symptoms. [p. B-141]

October 14th, 2017

Posted In: pattern language, systems

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The theme of “New Developments of Systems Thinking: From IoT to AI” at the Tenth International Symposium on Service Systems Science presented an opportunity to look at changes currently happening with contemporary technologies.  For a short talk, my agenda focused on three assertions:

  • 1. Open innovation learning, through open sourcing while private sourcing, has grown from 2001 to become mainstream
  • 2. Significant Internet of Things, cloud platforms and cognitive computing initiatives involve commercial and noncommercial contributors
  • 3. Creators, makers and remixers should consciously choose and declare conditions for derivative works

The relevance of the research for my dissertation (currently in review at Aalto University) became a frame for examining IoT, cloud and cognitive.  With both commercial and noncommercial contributors working alongside each other, content creators and makers should think ahead to conditions they wish to place on others who may derive from their works.  The previously posted slides on the Coevolving Commons have been synchronized with the digital audio recording.

The lecture and subsequent questions-and-answers are available online as web video.

For those who just want to listen, downloadable audio files (some with digitally boosted volume) are an option.

Audio

June 26th, 2017

Posted In: services, systems, technologies

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For the “Understanding Systems & Systemic Design” course in the program for the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University, the lecture slides were the same for both the full-time cohort on March 8 and part-time cohort on March 9, while the oral presentation varied.  The target, in about 90 minutes, was to cover at least 4 of 5 sections, from:

  • 1. Architecting ↔ designing
  • 2. Service systems ← production systems
  • 3. Affordances ↔ pattern language
  • 4. Ecological anthropology ← teleology
  • 5. Inquiring systems ↔ methods

The students were alerted that some of the arrows in the section headings were double-headed, and some were single-headed — with specific meanings.  For each day, the classroom audio was recorded.  That digital audio has now been synchronized with slides that had previously been posted on the Coevolving Commons.

This session was #8 of 15 lectures for the OCADU SFI students.  They had already done some basic reading on systems approaches.  Since they were working towards a Major Research Project (a lighter weight form of a thesis) for their Master of Design degree, my overall agenda for this lecture was to have them reflect on acts of representation.   Systems have already been represented to them in a variety of forms:  textually, orally and visually.  For their Major Research Projects, they would be creating detailed representations, as ways of having their audience appreciate the in-depth study of the world and issues selected for the term.

June 7th, 2017

Posted In: design, pattern language, services, systems

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