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Configuring patterns for systemic design - PUARL 2018 conference

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This was presented at the PUARL 2018 conference, in the context of the evolution of pattern languages, and of the discussion of how much needs to be ‘changed’ in current approaches to address current and future design issues.

It is an exploration on how patterns and pattern languages could be structured and used to tackle wicked societal problems.
I am looking into the qualities and properties of patterns in relation to embodied cognition and systems; revisiting the problem-solution connection and association; examining generativity and ways to sort out entangled mechanisms at various levels and scales; questioning the extend of the act of design, and the role and responsibility of the designer; and suggesting ways forward.

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Configuring patterns for systemic design - PUARL 2018 conference

  1. 1. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018Helene Finidori – Puarl 2018 - October 2018 Configuring Patterns & Pattern Languages for Systemic Design Helene Finidori PUARL – Future of Pattern Languages University of Oregon - Portland - October 2018 Final
  2. 2. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Purplsoc 2017 questions Societal questions at various scales, that affect peoples lives and activities
  3. 3. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 PUARL 2018 themes Migrants and Refugees • Causes Poverty, climate change, Indigenous displacements, wars • Issues & consequences At home, escape journeys, trafficking, integration, urbanism, homelessness • Solutions? Ø An intricacy of complex causes and effects involving wicked problems that appear and produce effects at various levels and scales, dramatically affecting people’s lives.
  4. 4. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Pattern Languages for Systemic Design? Causes & effects of different nature, entangled Fragmented knowledge & ways of representing Unpredictable & changing over time Diff. ways of seing, Interpreting, & conflicting interests No clear boundaries around problems, messy situations Emergent effects at multiple levels Contexts & understandings in ongoing evolution Pattern language forms and practice that can help tackle: … and help transition from or transform current degenerative system behaviors into more desirable [re]generative ones. Problems can be symptoms of other problems No “right” solution, possible contradictions Wicked Problems
  5. 5. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 The focus of my research ➢ Bridge pattern thinking/practice and systems thinking/practice; creating some form of connections & interoperability among disciplines and domains. ➢ Take a systemic approach to pattern languages; focusing both on pattern based observation/inquiry, and design. ➢ Develop pattern literacy and expand use of pattern languages to support systems literacy and systemic design; embodied pattern knowledge. Pattern Literacy Pattern Instinct Image: Adapted from Ray Ison - IFSR 2016 Pattern Literacy: Enhancing humans’ innate competence for for discovering, recognizing, associating, creating, mobilizing patterns
  6. 6. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 Fourth Generation Pattern Languages Introduced as a concept at Purplsoc 2015. Questions for moving forward: What would next generation patterns and pattern languages look like? What would be their form? How could they be used? … for a wholesome approach both to patterns and systems. Finidori, H. , S. Borghini, and T. Henfrey. "Towards a Fourth Generation Pattern Language: Patterns as Epistemic Threads for Systemic Orientation." In Purplsoc 2015 Proceedings, P. Baumgartner and Sickinger R. (Eds), 62-86. Berlin: epubli, 2015. .
  7. 7. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Patterns definition & relationship to systems ? Here are some results of the Survey “Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains” undertaken mid 2018 by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Research Group: Systems Science and Pattern Literacy. The survey targeted systems thinkers/scientists, designers, activists, consultants, policy makers, and generated 140 responses. Questions processed here: ➢ Words/concepts that come mind when thinking of patterns ➢ Description and/or definition of pattern in a couple of sentences ➢ Understanding of the role and/or potential of patterns in the context of systems in a few sentences
  8. 8. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 An arrangement > at different scales, part/whole, more or less ordered, more or less generative of elements > of different orders, more or less abstract, nested or not repeated or repeatable in space/time > similarity or difference, stability or contingency that is cognized or recognized > observable, anticipable, identifiable, recognizable, mobilizable as manifestation of ‘reality’ or features of a system at work that helps inquiry, meaning-making and design and the crossing of boundaries of different kinds key in the understanding and orientation of systems behavior and outcomes Ø How does this fit pattern communities’ definition of a pattern? Ø How do we use these attributes? Synthesized pattern definition From the BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains
  9. 9. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 ● If there is no pattern there is no system. ● Systems are, at one level, nothing more than patterns within a context. ● Systems embody patterns, often recursive, nested, compound, composable, decomposable, fractal, etc. ● Patterns define Systems, Systems define patterns. ● To me, in the language sense of Hofstadter, a system is a pattern. ● I tend to use these two terms interchangeably (not a fan of defining system by function). Patterns vs systems? Verbatim from the Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group - 2018
  10. 10. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 ● The essence, sine qua non ● The critical stuff that underlies all systems knowledge. ● Pattern thinking is next generation systems thinking. ● The use of patterns in the implementation and practice of the work in the meta-framework will be essential. ● Purpose & identifying patterns that link purpose to practice or actions are foundational in the social sciences ● Pattern awareness will be core in meaning making, and understanding systems and reality ● Much of cutting edge 21st century science will be about recognizing patterns as opposed to recognizing objects: our political domain is the area where pattern/systems thinking is most critically necessary and least apparent. Patterns: foundational to systems? Verbatim from the Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group - 2018
  11. 11. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 ● Patterns enable to visualize systems of high complexity and thus play an eminent role in knowledge transfer. ● Seeing patterns can help inform choices about transferring evidence from one place to another by understanding the links between units of activity ● The general language/tool that enables trans domain communication and comparison. The clear discernment and application of basic patterns enables transcendent design. ● Patterns are very important for meaning to be contextualized and outline the diversity of observed reality. Crossing boundaries with patterns Verbatim from the Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group - 2018
  12. 12. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 ● Systems awareness ● See parts of complexity more clearly ● Make complex systemic relations explicit ● An identifiable pattern points to a system at work ● Everything recognizable is made of patterns ● Key to understanding the workings of systems ● Describe elements or characteristics of systems. ● Structuring messy situations; construction of sense ● Discerning the direction or nature or events ● Building blocks to define complex systems. ● Blueprint of a system Helping make sense of, understand systems Verbatim from the Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group - 2018
  13. 13. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 ● A function for both diagnosing and design ● Systemic aids for improved system evolution and optimization. ● Can help describe and understand systems and systems dynamics in order to take more informed decision ● Can also enable people to improve systems, because they enable analysis and understanding. ● Only by experiencing and trying to understand can we learn to compose ● An explicit methodology to capture the characteristics of overlap, ambiguity and web-network interrelatedness within systems that can be reused to generate designs ● Allow us to break out of binary thinking and applying ordered systems approaches to solve complex problems; enables systems to become more adaptive and agile in response to changing contexts. Connecting understanding & design Verbatim from the Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group - 2018
  14. 14. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Observe, study, analyze Abstract & decompose Provide context & difference Describe transformation rules Explain why phenomena are how they are, or predict how phenomena will be Describe interrelating aspects of discrete things See underlying, chaotic or chaordic flows of material, energy, or information. Seed that builds complexity Serve as scaffolding Giving shape Can be manipulated and changed while retaining their value Design element that promotes vitality and wholesomeness Reuse of design knowledge Enhance stability of design Prototypal design solution to a recurring problem Resolution of ‘forces’ in a design problem Describe how historical and emergent energies interact to create reality Study transformative emergent properties Sense the world and make meaning Enhance senses Arouse cognitive perception Widen circles of perception Guide through and engage consciousness Connecting inquiry, meaning-making & design Verbatim from the Survey: Mapping the Landscape of Patterns across Domains BCSSS System Science and Pattern Literacy Research Group - 2018
  15. 15. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Patterns exist in the world, in our minds, as material forms. Simultaneously! Mehaffy: Partial symmetric relations and isomorphic correspondences between the structures in the world, the structures of the brain, and the structure of language or other formal representation systems that mirror them. Cities Alive - 2017 Kohls: The documented form of the pattern is the projection (expressed) of the projection (in the mind) of the pattern in the world. In Doctoral Thesis - 2014 Alexander: Patterns in our minds are, more or less, mental images of the patterns in the world: they are abstract representations of the very morphological rules which define the patterns in the world. In the Timeless Way of Building. - 1979 (TWB) Schuler: We see in patterns, and patterns help us see. In PUARL 2018 Presentation The multifaceted nature of patterns
  16. 16. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Five innate pre-linguistic core knowledges humans are born with: ● Forms (and their relations of length and angles) ● Quantity / numbers (and their arithmetic relations) ● Objects (and their motions) ● Agents (and their goal directed actions) ● Places (and their relations of distance and direction) Assembled by our plastic minds to make sense of (input) and create (output) increasingly complex structures as we develop and learn → An innate language of patterns of systemic nature? That helps us understand the world, describe it and design/construct it? Chomsky’s “universal grammar”, at play at a pre-linguistic level? Source: S. Carrey, E. Spelke – Cognitive Psychology Harvard Discovering the world – Innate competences
  17. 17. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 ● Pattern recognition is a basic function of the mind (Gee) ● Patterns are the material of the neural function (Bloom) ● Our neocortex contains pattern recognition circuitry (Kurtzweil) ● Each zone of the neocortex handles a specific type of patterns, in whole or part (Hawkins) ● "All our conceptions are obtained by abstractions and combinations of cognitions (patterns) first occurring in judgments of experience (inferences). The thoughts that we can cognize present themselves as signs” (Peirce) ● As synapses are consolidated through repetition, we gain a clearer ‘sense’ of what is perceived, forming patterns. ● Re-cognition is the repeated cognition of similarities and differences that help us categorize, i.e. learn and retrieve, complex combinations. Patterns at the junction of the world and the mind
  18. 18. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Primary retentions: the salient signs that we notice, and retain, consciously or not, from our experiencing the world Secondary retentions: the filters / funnel through which primary retentions are selected, made of the aggregate of past primary retentions (memory, habits of mind) Tertiary retentions: the tracks we leave in the environment for others to process (cultural artifacts). Stiegler after Husserl Patterns involved in how we “retain” what we perceive Ø All can have the form of patterns
  19. 19. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Patterns and the encoding & decoding of our world(s) Experience Traces Concepts Stimuli External Expression Embodied Cognition V VV Patterns in the World Patterns in our MindsPatterns as Art / Artifacts Recursive transfer of form, and shaping of the individual, the collective, and ‘reality’, mediated by patterns Finidori – Work in progress Form ing Generating Transform ing Patterns that Connect
  20. 20. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 How well do we leverage the versatility of patterns? Ulrich saw the timeless way of building as “a call to re-create our observational languages, in order to address systemic issues”, because patterns ”combine observational and design qualities”. In "The Art of Observation: Understanding Pattern Languages." Journal of Research Practice 2, no. 1 (2006). But… are we going as far as we could go? Ø How well do we leverage the observational quality of patterns? Ø How well do we involve patterns in our observational languages? Ø How well do we leverage patterns as signs that can help transfer form from the world, to our minds, to our arts and artifacts, in recursive and [re]generative ways?
  21. 21. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Alexander: “Patterns in our minds are, more or less, mental images of the patterns in the world: they are abstract representations of the very morphological rules which define the patterns in the world However, in one respect they are very different. The patterns in the world merely exist. But the same patterns in our minds are dynamic. They have force. They are generative. They tell us what to do; they tell us how we shall, or may, generate them; and they tell us too, that under certain circumstances, we must create them” “Each pattern is a rule which describes what you have to do to generate the entity which it defines.” TWB p.182 Ø Has there not been a slippage of focus from the world, to our minds, to an urge to create, that has drawn the focus of our attention away from the patterns observed in the order and dynamics of things, and from our capacity to judge how whole, beautiful, regenerative, desirable they may be? Haven’t we restricted our view of patterns?
  22. 22. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Alexander acknowledged the versatility of patterns: “Each pattern is a three-part rule, which expresses a relation between a certain context, a problem, and a solution. As an element in the world, each pattern is a relationship between a certain context, a certain system of forces which occurs repeatedly in that context, and a certain spatial configuration which allows these forces to resolve themselves. As an element of language, a pattern is an instruction, which shows how this spatial configuration can be used, over and over again, to resolve the given system of forces, wherever the context makes it relevant. The pattern is, in short, at the same time a thing, which happens in the world, and the rule which tells us how to create that thing, and when we must create it. It is both a process and a thing; both a description of a thing which is alive, and a description of the process which will generate that thing.” TWB. p.247 Ø How do these definitions work together in practice? How well do we leverage the versatility of patterns?
  23. 23. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 How effective is Problem-Solution association? In terms of stability in “space”: Different points of view, and tradeoffs Sets of entangled problems > “problématique” that can be decomposed No clear boundaries (problems defined as ‘social arrangements) Manifestation at different levels and hidden mechanisms, “nested” problems … but leverage points removed from problems, solutions do not apply to parts Many possible interpretations of problems contradictory solutions In terms of stability over “time”: Unintended consequences Toxicity if over-applied or aggregated Context/problem and design coevolving in time New configurations and behaviors (aka patterns) generated to be assessed over time Time is key, often neglected… When does the role of the designer stops?
  24. 24. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 How effective is Problem-Solution association? The problem-solution association risks ‘freezing’ the pattern in a prescriptive mode. Losing the ability to assess the relevance of the problem description and appropriateness of the solution over time. Losing the ability to ‘fit’ the solution over time to the evolution of the context in relation to a desired dynamic and/or end quality. Ø Could context, problem, solution be described as (observable) patterns to be monitored over time?
  25. 25. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 How effective is Problem-Solution association? The ‘fitness’ defined in a lose way? Alexander: “in the case of a real design problem, even our conviction that there is such a thing as fit to be achieved is curiously flimsy and insubstantial. We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed, and a context which we cannot properly describe.” Notes p.26 Ø How about fitness to purpose and constantly adapting intermediary goals to desired/ideal state/ behavior or outcome? Ø Purpose-seeking, rather than problem solving or problem seeking?
  26. 26. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 An enabler for A rule An Instruction A behavior? A set of forces? A mechanism? A process?… generative of other “things”? A structure? A configuration? Patterns as ‘things’ and generative processes? Pattern A “process” to generate that thing A “thing” that is “alive” Construction (direct ‘work applied’) Development (seed planted) Autopoiesis (self-reproduction of properties) Emergence (self-generating unexpected properties) Evolution (self-adaptation) Types of generative processes A “pattern in the world”? An ‘experience”? A “quality”? How, in the act of design, to identify, account for, act upon generative processes we cannot control or influence?
  27. 27. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Configurations, processes and generativity Ø What is the “thing” to be designed or transformed? What are the effects and behaviors sought out? Ø How would the design combine with or affect other generative processes that cannot directly be transformed, and what effects would these combinations result in? Ø How to ‘peel the onion’ or ‘unpack’ the different processes and mechanisms at play at different levels and scales, in both current and desired systems behavior? Ø How could observational patterns help identify and formulate these, and help anticipate and evaluate them over time? Ø How does this affect the role and responsibility of designers?
  28. 28. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 The complexity of the pattern form Pattern as documented structure > many ‘aspects’: context problem, forces, solution, etc... known uses, pros, cons, figure, examples, resulting context, rationale, related patterns, How to avoid confusion among some of the aspects? How are these aspects systemically related? How are the different levels of generativity rendered? How could structure enable interconnection and reuse of patterns? How could this enable effective navigation of complex systems? How to deal with differences of perception / interpretation, representation?
  29. 29. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 1. Acknowledge and leverage the semiotic properties of patterns 2. Use patterns as systemic research / boundary objects 3. Sort out different aspects and levels of generativity involved 4. Use pattern language to describe systems features 5. Adopt a modular pattern structure 6. Semantically interconnect patterns Possible ways forward
  30. 30. Helene Finidori – PUARL 2018 - October 2018 Leverage the semiotic nature of patterns Enabling networks of understanding and meaning Interpretation Object experienced Sign-Vehicle Pattern That Connects Patterns function as mediators between our external world(s) (the objects / phenomena our attention is directed to) and the internal world of ideas, allowing a connection between the object, its representation, and it’s interpretation. and the constant recursive decoding and encoding of systems Patterns can be used as boundary or mediating objects to confront and connect multiple representations and experiences of reality as they evolve over time Sources Peirce –Brier – Finidori
  31. 31. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 Pattern as action research and scientific object, beyond Cunningham & Mehaffy’s suggestion (Plop 2013). Pattern as boundary object, mediating and connecting multiple interpretations and representations in participatory inquiry. A way to explore, confront and record different views and interpretations, and controversies. In particular applied to our shared phenomenological experiences and ‘unknowns’, jointly discovered. Getting a collective grasp of the elephant... The Johari Window Use pattern as systemic research / boundary object Illustration: Dave Gray
  32. 32. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 What are we looking at? Where are we situated? What are we transforming? Creating? Patterns as outcome, behavior, structure? How do we assess/evaluate if we are on track? Some directions to explore: Examples of ontological frameworks: Sort out the different aspects and levels involved By Ukanneng - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39936022 The Function-Behaviour-Structure Framework The Situated Function-Behaviour-Structure Framework
  33. 33. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 Use pattern language to describe systems features Near decomposability of complex systems – graspable by the mind- enabling context adaptive modelling, probing of each association, and networks of adaptive solutions. Desired configuration & behavior Transformation Process Current configuration & behavior Current patterns Desired patterns/possibilitiesTransformation patterns
  34. 34. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 Patterns as units of decoding/encoding, used in a modular approach to patterns? With characteristics as ‘tags’? Adopt a modular pattern structure Alexander: “Each one of these patterns is a morphological law, which establishes a set of relationships in space. And each law or pattern is itself a pattern of relationships among still other laws, which are themselves just patterns of relationships again. For though each pattern is itself apparently composed of smaller things which look like parts, of course, when we look closely at them, we see that these apparent "parts" are patterns too.” Cunningham & Mehaffy - Plop 2013 Henshaw - Purplsoc 2015
  35. 35. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 Semantically interconnect patterns The world wide web is born from the unresolved quest to integrate information diversity through single centralized systems and format standards. Instead Tim Berners Lee made information inter-operable through the hyperlink and communication protocols. Isomorphic and homomorphic patterns could be inter-connected into networks or clusters, meta-stabilizing around strong ‘centers’ -towards mediated universals...
  36. 36. Helene Finidori – ISSS 2018 - July 2018 Thank you Helene Finidori PhD Candidate - University of Hull, Centre for Systems Studies Coordinator - Research Group Systems Science and Pattern Literacy at the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS) Affiliate Researcher - Evolution, Complexity and COgnition group (ECCO) Senior Research Fellow - The Schumacher Institute

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