The posts on this blog were mostly considered emails written to people interested in a particular approach to addressing the problems facing humanity and our relationship to the planet. If you are interested in what you read - please leave a comment...

September 28, 2007

Lovelock urges ocean climate fix

This is a very interesting story, not only for the item itself, but that for the first time in a headline news item, the need for systems thinking has come to the fore; that Ken Caldeira's comments on the possible implications of a large scale technological intervention into a complex system which is not fully understood are part of the story.

There is a clear argument that the very reductionist, mechanistic approach which has given us such prowess in technical effectiveness is one of the motors of the climate change crisis. This approach is the dominant model for problem solving in industrialised cultures. There is a huge danger that as the implications of climate change become more starkly obvious, that we will appeal to this dominant model for 'solutions'.

July 22, 2007

Second letter to Dave Pollard

Sent to Dave Pollard September 2006 - in reply to his response to the inaugural posting on this blog.

With regard to capacity for conceptualising complexity - I agree that indigenous cultures seem to have developed ways of engaging sustainably with complex systems (although I think we need also to be careful of the cultural 'noble savage' stereotype' - there appear to be many examples where indigenous cultures did not live sustainably - the extinction of most of the large mammals is often laid at the door of human hunters - it is perhaps that surviving indigenous cultures live in demanding environments hostile to western industrialised societies, and are extant only because they can manage to live sustainably within these fragile ecosystems. So the lesson I draw is that humans CAN successfully live in this way, but not that ALL indigenous cultures did/do so).

Good questions elicit useful answers...

My good friend Ross Ishikawa - I was a fellow student of Chris. Alexander's with him in '89, had some questions about the proposal (see earlier postings), which made me think more clearly - hopefully the answers will be illuminating too:

"I'm curious what you see as the end product of this idea? Is it primarily an educational tool, a proactive tool?"

July 20, 2007

Wikitect exists!


Ward Cunningham emailed me to tell me that he had already built a tool that met many of the important characteristics suggested in my spec.

He calls it wikitect.

Wikitect would seem to meet and even exceed my ambitions - even to the extent of '.dot' coded export!

I am immensely excited to think that it exists already - my best hope was that I could get some sort of open source project started - and as a non-programmer I was unsure that I would be well placed to push such a project along...

July 19, 2007

the Proposition

I have been thinking about the ideas here for a while. I'd been aware of Ward Cunningham and the software patterns community for some time, and eventually decided that this was something they might be interested in.

I am not a programmer of any but a rudimentary sort, and am not able to implement the ideas set out here, but I am clear about what is required. I am hoping that you may have some suggestions as to where to take this proposal.


I'm an architect. I studied with Chris Alexander in the late '80's, and have used patterns for 20 years or so.

In the last few years I have been thinking about complexity and complex systems, and how poorly humans are equipped to address these in any ways that are not highly reductive.

July 11, 2007

First proposal for LetsMakeAPlan tool

I have been having those slightly crazy - 'this system can actually address ALL problems!" moments about the following ideas - they are also the crystallisation of 10 years or more of thinking, so although the headline is fairly straightforward, the background reasoning is detailed and dense - so please bear with me - you can just read the stuff in bold to get the gist....

Simply, the practical aspect of the project is this:
A working tool, along the lines of a wiki, which supports individuals working together on the development of a 'pattern language'.
[You may have heard of patterns as an approach to computer programming - this was inspired by my teachers' original work, which led indirectly to 'wiki' tools being developed.]

The tool could be used immediately to support the development, management and democratic engagement with the policies - from principles down to opening hours - of our small school startup. This can be a 'test-bed'.