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Systems Changes: Learning from the Christopher Alexander Legacy (ST-ON, 2019/02/11)

One of the aims of the Systems Changes research program is to build on the pattern language approach.  This body of work stretches back into the 1960s, and has been cross-appropriated from built environments to software development (e.g. agile methods) and organizational change.  The February 2019 meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario was an opportunity to bring some people not familiar with the territory up to speed.

Here is the abstract for the talk:

The 1977 book, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is prominent in public library collections around the world. It represents, however, only one stage of the many works by Christopher Alexander, from his first book published in 1964, to his final book released in 2012. In addition multiple international conferences continue his legacy, in architecture and urban design (PUARL, for 10 years), in software development (PLoP, for 25 years), and in social change (PURPLSOC, for 5 years). Alexander was a builder of environment structure — an architect — and other communities have aspired to adopt the approach that he championed.

This Systems Thinking Ontario session will review pattern languages in three parts:

  1. The Eishin School project (1985, published as a book in 2012);

One of the aims of the Systems Changes research program is to build on the pattern language approach.  This body of work stretches back into the 1960s, and has been cross-appropriated from built environments to software development (e.g. agile methods) and organizational change.  The February 2019 meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario was an opportunity to bring some people not familiar with the territory up to speed.

Here is the abstract for the talk:

The 1977 book, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is prominent in public library collections around the world. It represents, however, only one stage of the many works by Christopher Alexander, from his first book published in 1964, to his final book released in 2012. In addition multiple international conferences continue his legacy, in architecture and urban design (PUARL, for 10 years), in software development (PLoP, for 25 years), and in social change (PURPLSOC, for 5 years). Alexander was a builder of environment structure — an architect — and other communities have aspired to adopt the approach that he championed.

This Systems Thinking Ontario session will review pattern languages in three parts:

  1. The Eishin School project (1985, published as a book in 2012);

Narrating Wholeness: Pattern Language Generating Semi-Lattice(s), System(s), and/or Holon(s) (PUARL 2018/10/27)

In what ways might the generation of wholeness through pattern language be strengthened, through an appreciation of advances in the systems sciences?  A workshop at the 2018 International PUARL Conference was an opportunity to review linkages and discuss some details.

An outline to frame the conversation was written in three parts.

  • 1. Communicative Framing
    • 1.1 Form and synthesis
    • 1.2 Organization as semi-lattice
    • 1.3 Systems generating systems
    • 1.4 Generative patterns and non-generative patterns in software development
    •  1.5 System-A and system-B, as two ways of shaping and building living environments
    • 1.6 Holons (from systems ecology)
  • 2. Dialectical Sensemaking
    • 2.1 Types of systems and models
    • 2.2 Autopoiesis and allopoiesis
    • 2.3 Economies as agricultural, industrial and services (coproduction)
  • 3. Narrative Synthesizing

In full, the abstract read:

Does a pattern language generate into (a) whole(s)? This workshop will discuss the meaning of architecting a system, complemented with recent research from the systems sciences.

In 1967, at the formation for Center for Environmental Structure, Pattern Manual specified that (sub)systems are fewer in number (and implicitly larger) than patterns:

In what ways might the generation of wholeness through pattern language be strengthened, through an appreciation of advances in the systems sciences?  A workshop at the 2018 International PUARL Conference was an opportunity to review linkages and discuss some details.

An outline to frame the conversation was written in three parts.

  • 1. Communicative Framing
    • 1.1 Form and synthesis
    • 1.2 Organization as semi-lattice
    • 1.3 Systems generating systems
    • 1.4 Generative patterns and non-generative patterns in software development
    •  1.5 System-A and system-B, as two ways of shaping and building living environments
    • 1.6 Holons (from systems ecology)
  • 2. Dialectical Sensemaking
    • 2.1 Types of systems and models
    • 2.2 Autopoiesis and allopoiesis
    • 2.3 Economies as agricultural, industrial and services (coproduction)
  • 3. Narrative Synthesizing

In full, the abstract read:

Does a pattern language generate into (a) whole(s)? This workshop will discuss the meaning of architecting a system, complemented with recent research from the systems sciences.

In 1967, at the formation for Center for Environmental Structure, Pattern Manual specified that (sub)systems are fewer in number (and implicitly larger) than patterns:

Evolving Pattern Language towards an Affordance Language (Almaden, 2018/05/09)

With a visit of one week at IBM Research Almaden with @rarar and @jimspohrer , I was invited to give a talk.  As an IBM alumnus who was active in pattern language community from the mid-1990s, this was an occasion to surface some history of science about activities inside the company that is otherwise opaque.  This history shapes my aspirations and predispositions towards continuing the development of pattern language in new domains.

The high-level agenda aimed to cover three parts:

  • 1. 1964 → 1999 → 2012: 
    Synthesis of Form→OOPSLA 1996→Battle (Eishin)
  • 2. 1993 →2002→2006→2010: 
    Hillside Group→IGS Method→AWB→Eclipse
  • 3. 2014 → … : 
    Wicked Messes→Service Systems Thinking

Here’s the abstract sent in advance of my arrival:

Pattern language has its origins from architects of built physical environments. The approach was cross-appropriated into software development methods at the rise of object-oriented design, and was influential in the emerging styles with agile practices. The idea has been extended into social change. Are the philosophical foundations from the 1960s-1970s appropriate for the 21st century era of service science, and innovations in augmented intelligence?

With a visit of one week at IBM Research Almaden with @rarar and @jimspohrer , I was invited to give a talk.  As an IBM alumnus who was active in pattern language community from the mid-1990s, this was an occasion to surface some history of science about activities inside the company that is otherwise opaque.  This history shapes my aspirations and predispositions towards continuing the development of pattern language in new domains.

The high-level agenda aimed to cover three parts:

  • 1. 1964 → 1999 → 2012: 
    Synthesis of Form→OOPSLA 1996→Battle (Eishin)
  • 2. 1993 →2002→2006→2010: 
    Hillside Group→IGS Method→AWB→Eclipse
  • 3. 2014 → … : 
    Wicked Messes→Service Systems Thinking

Here’s the abstract sent in advance of my arrival:

Pattern language has its origins from architects of built physical environments. The approach was cross-appropriated into software development methods at the rise of object-oriented design, and was influential in the emerging styles with agile practices. The idea has been extended into social change. Are the philosophical foundations from the 1960s-1970s appropriate for the 21st century era of service science, and innovations in augmented intelligence?

Architecting for Wicked Messes (OCADU 2018/03/07-09)

Each year, my lecture in the “Understanding Systems & Systemic Design” course — in the program for the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University — reflects where my research is, at that point in time.  For 2018, the scheduling of my visit was towards the end of a busy winter.  Firstly, I had just finished teaching a Systems Methods course at the UToronto iSchool.  Then, the Open Innovation Learning book was officially launched.  Less than 6 months earlier, I had conducted a workshop at the Purplsoc 2017 meeting, and at the PLoP 2017 meeting.  This shaped an agenda for the prepared slides as:

  • 1. Designing for tame problems c.f. Architecting for wicked messes
  • 2. Analyzing the complicated c.f. Synthesizing the complex
  • 3. Unfreeze-change-freeze c.f. Co-responsive movement
  • 4. Planning (teleology) c.f. Programming (teleonomy)
  • 5. Industrial value chain c.f. Co-producing offering

While the lecture slides were the same for two class sections spaced 2 days apart, the verbal content varies as spontaneous flow.  On both days, agenda point 4 (Teleology c.f. Teleonomy) was cut short to jump to a few ideas in point 5.  (On the second day, a question from a student led back to point 4).

Each year, my lecture in the “Understanding Systems & Systemic Design” course — in the program for the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University — reflects where my research is, at that point in time.  For 2018, the scheduling of my visit was towards the end of a busy winter.  Firstly, I had just finished teaching a Systems Methods course at the UToronto iSchool.  Then, the Open Innovation Learning book was officially launched.  Less than 6 months earlier, I had conducted a workshop at the Purplsoc 2017 meeting, and at the PLoP 2017 meeting.  This shaped an agenda for the prepared slides as:

  • 1. Designing for tame problems c.f. Architecting for wicked messes
  • 2. Analyzing the complicated c.f. Synthesizing the complex
  • 3. Unfreeze-change-freeze c.f. Co-responsive movement
  • 4. Planning (teleology) c.f. Programming (teleonomy)
  • 5. Industrial value chain c.f. Co-producing offering

While the lecture slides were the same for two class sections spaced 2 days apart, the verbal content varies as spontaneous flow.  On both days, agenda point 4 (Teleology c.f. Teleonomy) was cut short to jump to a few ideas in point 5.  (On the second day, a question from a student led back to point 4).

Open Innovation Learning, Book Launch

Recordings of the book launch proceedings are now available as a web video playlist, and downloadable files.

Open Innovation Learning: Theory building on open sourcing while private sourcing was first released as a perfect bound softcopy and an open access PDF in November 2017.  In February 2018, the ePub and Mobi editions were put online.

On February 21, a special session of Systems Thinking Ontario invited friends and colleagues to celebrate the publication that had taken most of the past three years in full-time research and writing.  The recordings are available in 4 parts:

  • 1. Welcome, by Peter Jones
  • 2. Self-introductions by attendees in the audience
  • 3. Highlights of the book, presented by David Ing
  • 4. Commentary by Stephen Perelgut and Tim Lloyd, followed by questions from the audience

With family, friends and colleagues attending, this was one of the most memorable evenings of my life.

1. Welcome, by Peter Jones

As the official host of Systems Thinking Ontario at OCADU University, Peter Jones served as the master of ceremonies.

The files are also available for download onto a mobile device.

Digital video
(5m48s)
H.264 MP4 WebM
[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones HD_504kbps.m4v]
(HD 504Kbps 28MB)[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones nHD_49kpbs.m4v]
(nHD 49Kkps 8MB)
[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones HD_826kbps.webm]
(HD 826Kbps 45MB)[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones nHD_120kbps.webm]
(nHD 120Kbps 13MB)
Digital audio
(5m48s)
[20180221_1840_ST-ON_OILTB_Launch_Welcome_PeterJones.mp3]
(5MB)

Peter explained the Nordic tradition of presenting dissertation research in a venue open to the public. While this gathering was not so formal, my participation with Systems Thinking Ontario and OCAD University made this assembly a natural session.

Recordings of the book launch proceedings are now available as a web video playlist, and downloadable files.

Open Innovation Learning: Theory building on open sourcing while private sourcing was first released as a perfect bound softcopy and an open access PDF in November 2017.  In February 2018, the ePub and Mobi editions were put online.

On February 21, a special session of Systems Thinking Ontario invited friends and colleagues to celebrate the publication that had taken most of the past three years in full-time research and writing.  The recordings are available in 4 parts:

  • 1. Welcome, by Peter Jones
  • 2. Self-introductions by attendees in the audience
  • 3. Highlights of the book, presented by David Ing
  • 4. Commentary by Stephen Perelgut and Tim Lloyd, followed by questions from the audience

With family, friends and colleagues attending, this was one of the most memorable evenings of my life.

1. Welcome, by Peter Jones

As the official host of Systems Thinking Ontario at OCADU University, Peter Jones served as the master of ceremonies.

The files are also available for download onto a mobile device.

Digital video
(5m48s)
H.264 MP4 WebM
[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones HD_504kbps.m4v]
(HD 504Kbps 28MB)[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones nHD_49kpbs.m4v]
(nHD 49Kkps 8MB)
[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones HD_826kbps.webm]
(HD 826Kbps 45MB)[20180221_1840_ST-ON OILTB_Jones nHD_120kbps.webm]
(nHD 120Kbps 13MB)
Digital audio
(5m48s)
[20180221_1840_ST-ON_OILTB_Launch_Welcome_PeterJones.mp3]
(5MB)

Peter explained the Nordic tradition of presenting dissertation research in a venue open to the public. While this gathering was not so formal, my participation with Systems Thinking Ontario and OCAD University made this assembly a natural session.

Negotiating Order with Generative Pattern Language

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.

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.

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