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...

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'.

But the real goal is to make something that can be used as a collaborative tool to address the REAL complex issue that confronts us at the moment - climate change. (Greenpeace are trying to something along these lines - called Custard Melt (!) but I'm not sure what it is)

The purpose of the 'pattern languages' I am aiming for is wider than the entry in wikipedia suggests.
The purpose is to allow humans, not capable of addressing complex issues holistically, to engage with them in a non-reductive manner, building a tiered web of patterns, each of which is manageable on its own, but explicitly captures its relationships with the whole.
Article addressing the background to this thinking: here.

The tool, like a wiki, allows creation of new pages - 'patterns' (each of which will be something like a web or XML page). Unlike a Wiki, the page will have some structure imposed on it - a template. The template will encourage and make clear the need for, and purpose of, each necessary component.
I've put an example, from the fountainhead - the book 'A Pattern Language' - by Chris. Alexander , at the end of this message, to give a concrete example in the field of architecture. But I am clear that the approach is relevant to many types of fundamentally complex situations.

Each pattern has a format:
TITLE (referenced)(confidence level)
CONCLUSION - couched in parametric/generic/process based approach
elements for which this pattern is the context

Here is a fairly hopeless attempt at such a tool - by failing to impose or explain the necessary structure and relationships of patterns as they attempt to map complex situations, or the fundamental seriousness of what it means to set out to author a pattern, the site consists only of vague subjective statements. They have not got to grips with what a pattern or a pattern language must be, to have any power as a tool.

I imagine that the fundamental programming already exists - will there be open source wiki code? I'd be very happy with the relatively raw, html feel of the early wikis. Do you know how you originate an open source project?

I've written about these sort of ideas before, and had messages forwarded on to Ward Cunningham himself (wiki inventor and patterns in programming main man) - so I think that it could garner a community of interest.

Well - that's probably more than enough to be getting on with. Let me know what you think.

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