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  • daviding 6:11 pm on March 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , jim coplien, ,   

    2015/03/07 11:00 Jim Coplien, “A Challenge to the Japanese Pattern Language Community”, AsianPLoP 2015 

    Jim Coplien (Cope), Gertrud & Cope, and the Scrum Foundation.

    Keynote presentation at the 4th Asian Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs, Waseda University, Tokyo

    This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted on the web by David Ing.

    Presentation with participants seated in a circle

    Jim Coplien, AsianPLoP 2015

    Jim Coplien was at first Asian PLoP conference in Okinawa in 2001

    At 2009, was at a conference about Christopher Alexander, talked about Scrum movement

    • Started movement to introduce Scrum movement to Japanese

    A little ashamed for coming here for just one hour

    • That’s not a PLoP
    • A PLoP is a family
    • Commitment to the event, or 3 or 4 decades
    • Grateful to be invited

    An introduction to an introduction to a talk that isn’t a PLoP

    • Will be using Powerpoints, there isn’t Powerpoints at a PLoP

    Today, explore what a PLoP is, starting from a mountaintop in Colorado at the beginning

    • Talk about patterns in Japanese culture
    • Talk about some PLoPs that have have involved with:  ScrumPLoP
    • Where are we going as a community

    Have participants done the rain storm game?  Yes

    • Parachute game?  (Not here)

    Pattern community is over 20 years old, want to wind back 20 years for a vision

    • Had worked with Christopher Alexander, who is concerned about our community
    • The concern is that the pattern community doesn’t have outreach
    • We’re a wonderful community in ourselves, but we’re incestuous
    • It’s dangerous, in becoming a culture internally-focused
    • We’re trading amongst ourselves
    • Have kind of become a club
    • Does have the advantage of being a nurturing community

    The goal is to have a vision

    • Patterns are about healing the world
    • People were excited about dream building
    • If we were green activists, we would have passion not as a club, but would protest against dead architecture, dead social practices

    We get to travel here to beautiful Japan (or beautiful Allerton)

    Back to Christopher Alexander:  what is a pattern?

    • What does it have to do with what we do here?

    The whole

    • The dao that can be named is not the dao
    • Patterns are not not about writing
    • What do you do about forces?  You feel them, not shallowly, but in who you are, and how you are connected to the universe
    • Then use writing as the gate through which we pass on the way to enlightment, says Alexander
    • Patterns aren’t the end, they’re on the path

    Wholeness has to do with geology, with space

    • Some properties of geometry
    • Space
    • Echoes in a face, wrinkles
    • City-country thinkers, deep interlocking
    • Alexander says to use more and more of these, and as it becomes more tightly coupled, there’s the potential for creating this great sense of wholeness or peace
    • Want to create more and more of these configurations in the world
    • To Alexander, this is literal

    It’s about our identity

    Alexander says that people come together in the community to find these patterns within themselves

    • In Japanese culture, we learn this, year after year after year

    In industry and academia, we have been taught to predict these things

    • Industry, academia, technology, is the evil world system
    • Academia is definitely in the bad world system

    Are patterns objective?  What does objective mean?

    • Objective means a property of the object
    • Alexander says beauty is an object
    • So, how to measure beauty?  It’s not something from applying makeup, it’s in the essence itself

    Academia is formal, and distances itself

    • We need to consider the objective by itself, outside of people
    • Alexander says the objective is in the people
    • There’s an “ahh”, sense of wonder
    • It’s obvious, how we see it
    • From our upbringing, we can’t see it

    Came to Japan 15 years ago to work with Nakano

    [Nakano just arrived, sits close enough to Cope to hit him]

    A chair is alive, in the sense that we are alive, there’s not much life in this chair or in this room

    • On the train, looking at the trees, they’re alive in their geometry and configuration
    • They’re an architecture that makes a Meiji shrine alive beyond the tree
    • In patterns, looking for a notion of alive

    Start from the larger world

    • Come together in a community, so those who have forgotten the pattern can remember them

    Some patterns are written like IEEE papers

    Alexander says that a pattern is something I can draw

    • A process is needed to create a pattern than comes into existence

    If Alexander came in to this room, he wouldn’t look at the paper

    • He would look at ceiling heights, door entries
    • This room is pretty dead

    A pattern is something that you should be able to tell your mother-in-law (or a Martian)

    This is what we were looking for at the hilltop in Colorado [when the pattern language movement started with the Hillside Group]

    • The architect from Carnegie Mellon, Mary Shaw was there
    • Doug Schmidt was there
    • 50 people, no idea of what we do
    • Richard Gabriel said we should come together, and see what happens

    Came together to look at Alexander’s vision

    • Originally 7 people
    • Then Richard Gabriel joined us, and someone else, became 9
    • George Platts brought with the games
    • Also look at PLoP today
    • Also look at ScrumPLoP

    ScrumPLoP started 7 years ago, formally 5 years ago

    August 15, 1993:  Here are the 5 P’s of pattern

    • 1. People:  has survived
    • 2. Programs, from Ward Cunningham, not programming — programs are the things we build; since then we do more than software
    • 3. Pictures:  Alexander says need pictures, big on geometry.  Not an algorithm, a procedure, a way of building
    • 4. Process:  The dual of geometry
    • 5. Patterns:  The recurring in culture that we see over and over again, e.g. parenting is different in Japan as compared to India, etc; but there are commonalities in the pattern in deep interlock, e.g. does the mother play father, and the father play mother, sometimes alternating making meals

    [Cope referred to tables projected as 2 slides in Powerpoint.  The content is reproduced below, with the talk added in bullet points.  Read left to right, then down]

    Alexander Ben Lomond Hillside Scrum PLoP Other PLoPs
    The first thing in APL is a sequence

    • APL [A Pattern Language] starts with universe, world, shows how to apply the pattern in sequence
    • The way to build pattern language is to collect thousands of sequences, and factor that into a generative pattern
    • Don’t write patterns; write generative pattern languages by looking at whole sequences
    • A pattern doesn’t make sense outside of its context
    • When a pattern forms a grammar (as in English), there’s a well defined ordering of words that will generate a system
    • A pattern alone doesn’t mean anything
    • e.g. fire is a pattern, no context, doesn’t mean anything

    • We knew this when we came together, but didn’t know what to do about it
    Sequences are explicit

    • When Jeff Sutherland created the first pattern, had the sequence
    • The pattern can grow the whole, or refine the whole
    • The refinement is always local, small, because want to be able to erase the ugly and try again
    Almost no sequences

    • How many sequences have been published this year at PLoP?  None?
    Languages Generate Sequences “Anything short of a language is a dead end”.  Languages come after patterns.

    • John Vlissides said anything short of a pattern language is a dead end
    • John actually didn’t write a pattern language in the Design Patterns book, but understood this
    Co-Development of the Language in the PLoP

    • Write lots of patlets, then try to put them together
    Hardly any languages.  Those that succeed evolve outside of PLoP.

    • A pattern language is always evolving
    • How many have AsianPLoP created, and then discarded?
    • In ScrumPLoP have created and published 60 patterns
    • In AsianPLoP, probably haven’t created 60 patterns yet
    • POSA is kind of a pattern language
    • Organizational patterns were a book
    • None of these works were developed in a PLoP, as the PLoP has become a club
    • In 20 years, can count the number of pattern languages that come out of PLoP on two hands
    Piecemeal growth + local adaptation Piecemeal Growth Focus on Adaptation (e.g. going outside SW)

    • Go outside of software
    • Alexander believes in collective consciousness, a Buddhist feel of things
    • First met Alexander, when invited into community, spoke at OOPSLA
    • When read Timeless Way of Building, it uses the same language as Tao De Ching; Alexander said it’s obvious
    Out of scope?

    • Japan is at the roots of this, or at least the parents where
    Geometry:  the importance of driving into the unconscious Not really Value stream, organizational geometry

    • Concern
    Vary rare

    • Alexander’s regret:  at U. of Oregon, they insisted he operate a command-and-control leader
    Our primary concern.  The origin of Wikis

    • WikiWikiWeb was invented to support patterns, to build an online community
    Community works together on patterns

    • Community contributes to Scrum
    • Jeff Sutherland is now using Scrum patterns in his training of 10,000s of people
    • There’s a company here in Japan using Scrum patterns, don’t know Christopher Alexander or patterns
    Vibrant internal community, — no outreach.

    • Haven’t seen outreach
    Body of literature

    • The goal
    Our focus Vision from the Beginning Anthology only
    Long term refinement Not really Sometimes 4 years to publication, web-based
    Started with org patterns –> Scrum
    Usually one-time publication after weeks of work
    Quality bar:  Rejected many patterns (no ….) The vision was right Have rejected 60-100 patterns

    • Rejected more than have published
    Lowering the standards to support attendance

    • Why did Cope stop attending PLoPs?
    • Program chair wanted a big confernce
    Compromise:  BATTLE, no; Oregon, yes

    • Alexander didn’t compromise with the Eishin school in The Battle for Life and Beauty on the Earth; he did compromise in The Oregon Experiment.
    Distance ourselves from academia

    • Academic publication is corrupting
    • Want nothing to do with false economy
    • Our standards have to be higher than academic, have to have shimojitsu, no compromise
    Doing Scrum rather than what the Scrum Alliance enforces Sometimes difficult to differentiate from IEEE papers
    A working community

    • Alexander beat on his students
    Adamant about no Powerpoints, no “talks” or keynotes

    • Don’t want to be higher up
    • Not standing up in front
    ScrumPLoP has a working community

    • Cope and Sutherland each spend half time on ScrumPLoP
    • Some contributors spend one month per year, others spend more
    Starting to look more like normal conferences; co-location with SPLASH for survival

    • In 2015, are moving outside of SPLASH
    • Last 2 years, PLoP has been at Allerton
    Community authoring and maintenance Ne-mawashi, Yoriais and Mikoshi, Wikis

    • Come together to discuss
    • Didn’t want academics originally, as a pattern can become a cheap way of publishing
    Community authoring, review and publication

    • A way to come
    • Swarming
    • Started with an academic model where one person comes with a model, but now starting to use wikis
    • Still community review
    • At ScrumPLoP, will have a struggle, as some people will say that “this is my pattern”, because they need an academic approach
    Individual authoring, community  review

    • See a lot of patterns not socialized in a community
    • In Chicago, used to have a group that would meet once a month


    “Language of Harmony” by Masanari Motohashi (2010):  probably the best pattern language ever written

    There are a lot of deep ideas that Alexander understands

    • What is the place of time in architecture?
    • What is the geometry of time?  Japanese may have insight, ma [see Wikipedia entry on ma as “negative space”]
    • In Danish, read the wind, put the finger in the ground
    • Read the kabuki of the community

    At ScrumPLoP have first day that doesn’t do patterns

    • Then second day, do planning, create trust (translated as empathy), sense of one culture, not-separateness

    As your professor, now give you a homework assignment to read Motohashi’s paper

    • Beauty that emerges from a community, and its activities


    In the old days in Japan, the meeting were more open

    • Then had a scandal, as gangs would come into mikoshi — not just a community but the neighbouring community — but then a moratorium on mikoshi
    • Now people carrying mikoshi have to wear uniforms, it’s too hard

    Problem starting with students, is people won’t have experience to judge

    [David stopped taking notes, and joined the circle for 10 minutes of discussion]

  • daviding 3:31 am on March 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    2015/03/06 09:55 Hiroshi Nakano, “Japanese Spirituality and Pattern Language”, AsianPLoP 2015 

    Hiroshi Nakano, Center for Environmental Structure

    Keynote presentation at the 4th Asian Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs, Waseda University, Tokyo

    This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted on the web by David Ing.

    Call him super-Hiro (as opposed to normal Hiro, the conference chair)

    An architect, not a software developer

    Not an expert on explaining Japanese spirituality, it’s part of being Japanese

    Gauguin painting:  From where do we come from?  Where are we?  To where are we going?

    Taisetsu Suzuki, Buddhist philospoher, book:  Japanese Spirituality

    • Every object either organic or non-organic, has its own life in itself
    • Some are clearly visible, others are hidden it only show up when some indicators effects upon it


    • Patterns
    • Centering

    Zen teaching:

    • A is not A, therefore A is A
    • When A is denied, you have to reflect about why it is not A
    • Look for another way to look at A
    • Get a new paradigm
    • See A from a new paradigm
    • Then you know what is A

    You have to look for the new way of looking at things

    Christopher Alexander:

    • Seeking the answer to:  What is beauty? What is good?

    Kurosawa movie (pre-war)

    • Two men come to shrine, see lady praying at shrine
    • Master asks:  what makes the beauty?
    • There’s nothing more beautiful
    • Where does that beauty come from?
    • It’s from her ego
    • She’s praying, giving up herself, throwing away her ego, concentrating on her praying, then the beauty comes out

    You may not have religion, but praying for something, concentrating on it, without thinking yourself in it, then beauty comes automatically

    By concentrating on the process, then beauty comes automatically

    What Alexander found was patterns

    • First started (at Notes on the Synthesis of Form) with mathematical logical processes through hierarchical decomposition
    • At this point, patterns was rational
    • Divided pattern into tiny elements, combined them to solve problems
    • Later, he added semi-lattice of real world, changed to illustrate as A Pattern Language
    • Each pattern in itself has almost a completely presently shared patterns
    • Each pattern shows a different seeing world
    • A story that gives motivation, why to use this pattern language

    Patterns are a simple structure that everyone can use and learn them

    • Context:  Forces hidden in the related field, not just inside the pattern but also from outside the pattern (could be human) as well as internal
    • Form:  By what kind of geometry of relations
    • Conflict between forces:  How to set forces equilibrium
    • So each pattern is combined or fused by the aid of forces context indicates.  here patterns funcdtoin are integrated

    Now call project language rather than pattern language:  a specific goal

    • Project languages add up to become a history of pattern languages

    Not simple

    • #197 is Thick Walls — not just Walls
    • Thick means to change the way you think about walls
    • Pattern gives the motive to see the world differently
    • Without such force, patterns are weak


    • Not a dent in the wall
    • Private work in a small room with community work on the large room
    • Doesn’t separate out the private from the community
    • Presented as visual
    • All have visual forms
    • Patterns came from how to build buildings, but can use in human world
    • To make a pattern language, have to use technical stuff

    Language is a complex way of expression

    • Pattern language makes a story
    • Selected good patterns give a motivation to move
    • A collection of patterns give strong motives, with a narrative story

    Idea of repair, fixing a broken system

    • From Oregon Experiment:  an injury healing system as an example
    • When have an injury in the hand, will have automatic fix, but don’t know how it works
    • An injury is monitored by the whole body
    • Skin injury has contact with the brain, order will come on how fix it
    • Before injury, have a scheme to fix
    • This is a healing process
    • All processes in the pattern language are healing processes: we must fix something, change something
    • The whole process is changing the world
    • A repair system is a centering process in the nature of order

    2011.3.11 had a disaster

    • How to fix?
    • Four years have passed, nothing has changed
    • Problems are the same as before it happened
    • These villages were already dead end villages
    • They lived in dead end houses
    • People don’t have have funeral ceremonies in the temporary houses

    Story:  young mother threw newly born baby over the top of the hill, as tsunami chased right after her

    • She survived, the grandmother and father died in car
    • How to get a new recovery of human life should be the first thing in the morning
    • Photography of concentration camp train in WWII, sending Jewish prisoners, where mother threw baby out of train
    • Auschwitz tragedy similar to Japanese tragedy
    • Have to change the situation
    • Global situation, people are suffering, how to live on?

    Pattern language is how to solve conflicting forces into the balanced situation

    • Make good stories to change the world
    • Step by step of generating the pattern language is critical to change

    Patterns are found through direct people’s communications

    • Sometimes can be found in local culture, traditions, history, daily lives, and sometimes through logics
    • Real good patterns are extracted from strong visions
    • A is not A, then can see what A is A

    Two perspectives:

    • Disaster victims (landowners) and office bureaucrats (who have procedures, seeking written applications)
    • People are dying, most people are over 70 years old
    • Some officials are also victims, they know what the disaster victims are saying, but they are following the bureaucratic red tape

    Made a plan after 3 months, but bureaucrats said no.

    • Road first, then houses
    • Have to figure out how to pay
    • Why do the bureaucrats keep giving some terrible answers to a mother who threw her baby to the hill?

    Bureaucratic response:  flatten the mountain, work against nature

    AsianPLoP Day 1 plenary

    The relations of a human network has a visual form configuration:  sub-symmetry

    • Landowners <–> Intermediate Aid Organization <–> Disaster Victims
    • Proposed 6 months after disaster
    • Said okay
    • Just formal organization didn’t work

    They lack a vision

    • They lack a whole
    • They lack to get back a life.

    What is important is how to repair a life

    • Get a house

    Proposing a project language, as an intermediate aid organization doesn’t work, what should we do

    First, need a clear, healthy vision

    • Where is a healthy body, then will know how to repair
    • Japanese spirituality clearly insists how to see this vision
    • Only though this spirituality we may have be able to grasp this vision
    • We tend to see the world based on dualism, in a Cartesian way of thinking, from philosopher Descartes
    • Hard to deny Descartes these days
    • Today, schools are based on dualism:  subjects, objects
    • Make things as far away from emotions
    • Cool attitudes
    • We must stop this

    In order to understand this idea, the center is useful

    • In the Nature of Order, it’s described in a complicated way
    • Could read again and again, won’t get it.
    • Easier way:  a center has properties
    • e.g. hand is connected the body, not isolated
    • Center is not isolated, it’s connected to the other world
    • Connected, the hand is alive
    • The center is alive
    • At the same time, it’s the one whole
    • Hand and fingers come together as a whole
    • This is a way of synthesizing parts all together as a whole
    • A is not A
    • Each hand is a center

    This idea of center is different from Cartesian

    • Have to see the whole and part at the same time
    • In the development of the world, this emerges
    • A pattern itself can become a center, but the pattern is a repetitive entity
    • Can generate a process of centering, so that get objects with life
    • Everything has life in it
    • Have to create or generate life with the aid of a centering process
    • Can we give life?  Be a Frankenstein?

    Diagram of plant

    • Every pattern is a leaf
    • Forces comes from the outside
    • Some leaves gather in a same place
    • Context is an outside forces with push each pattern towards a certain direction

    Centering process:  (a manual for a centering process)

    • First episode is ambiguous
    • Second episode is connect with the first, and then enhances the first
    • This can be repeated endlessly, aggregation goes on — which is the timeless way

    Good movies are made of several chapters or stories, but they are all correlated with each other

    • This is a process
    • Try this

    Each centering episode can be a project language

    • It has life

    Patterns are selected for a certain vision, aiming at repairing the existing world to a world with life

    • Could be a paradigm shift

    In the book Battle for Life and Beauty, everything is a fight

    • Such battles may not be necessary, if have piecemeal growth
    • Create a project language
    • Helping a lady on a bus, or homeless people into a shelter
    • Small acts will add up to a whole world

    Another diagram:  project language for goals

    From the side of Process From the side of Form
    Centering process
    Pattern language
    Project language

    Eight houses in Okayama prefecture

    • Hot springs
    • Ocean view
    • Had preserved trees, didn’t cut one pine
    • Shape of the house is strange, as it avoids the trees
    • Designed bath house for community
    • All designed with pattern language
    • This group was succeeded through interesting media
    • After making pattern language for homes and shops, wrote an imaginary future letter, as if sent 10 years after the project:  a whole story of a town in the future
    • Not just form, can appreciate the town
    • Read this imaginary letter to the future town at a meeting, and they understood the story made of patterns, without understanding a pattern language
    • Dream letter became a great motive to move on, make a new town
    • 12 years ago, this town was deserted in the summer, and even in the winter despite being a hot spring center
    • Made walkways around town, to visit many hot springs
    • Now, the town is active, can’t make an appointment at a hotel, so busy

    Centering process and making vision sounds difficult, but can imagine a reality with a strong message to change people’s motives

    Photographs of houses and shops

    • Pension hotel
    • Houses have similarity, but different:  roofs, windows, facades in hidden order coming out
    • Each house has a different pattern language

    In order to change the stream, it’s like a big river

    • One small stream will branch off
    • Then can have another breakthrough
    • Will have more branches off the main stream
    • This is what I want you to demonstrate
    • The world is full of tragedy, each person should make some effort to create a strong message with life in it
    • Have to know what is life in an object:  can read a difficult book

    Whole world, whole nature, whole human

    • We are all connected together
    • We should seek order, peaceful life
    • Change the world with beauty, step by step
    • Some day you can change the whole world


    Repairing the world requires effort.  How can we make bureaucrats see?

    • Taking pictures of town
    • Which ones have life?

    Make something that makes me feel?

    Changing bureaucrats?

    • Pattern language as a strong tool
    • First, have to change own awareness
    • Now getting old, next year may not be able to see you, so want to see you take action now
    • Read Oregon Experiment and Nature of Order
    • Some artists know which ones are alive:  this town is dead, this hotel is dead
    • Intuitively know, but not at a continuous level

    Where can find more material on centers?

    • From workshops
    • When you see the hand, how do you organize the hand?  By vision, by hand, by wisdom, by knowledge?  My hand is alive, it’s connected
    • A center is a way of looking at the world
    • When someone speaks, how can you tell it’s her voice?  It’s by looking at her as a whole.

    In the Battle for Life and Beauty of the Earth, would you describe that as a project language rather than a pattern language?

    • Yes.
    • Have been working on this for 50 years.
    • Christopher Alexander is old now, he can’t work
    • Feel repeating the same thing.
  • daviding 7:20 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2014, , number of employees   

    Number of IBM employees was 379,592 for year-end 2014 

    IBM officially reported on the number of employees for the year ending Dec. 31, 2014 in the 10-K filed with the SEC on Feb. 24, 2015.

    Employees and Related Workforce

    Yr.-to–Yr. Percent Change
    For the year ended December 2014 2013 2012 2014-13 2013-12
    IBM/wholly owned subsidiaries 379,592* 431,212 434,246 (12.0)% (0.7)%
    Less-than-wholly owned subsidiaries 8,862 9,018 8,009 (1.7)% 12.6%
    Complementary 24,321 23,555 24,740 3.3% (4.8)%
    • Reflects reduction of approximately 35,000 resources due to divestitures.

    As a globally integrated enterprise, the company operates in more than 175 countries and is continuing to shift its business to the higher value segments of enterprise IT. The decrease in total resources from 2013 to 2014 was primarily due to divestitures in 2014, which drove a reduction of approximately 38,000 resources. The company continues to remix its skills and resource needs to match the best opportunities in the marketplace.

    The complementary workforce is an approximation of equivalent full-time employees hired under temporary, part-time and limited- term employment arrangements to meet specific business needs in a flexible and cost-effective manner.

    Source: Form 10-K Annual Report | Feb. 24, 2015 | United States Security and Exchange Commission at

    via:  IBM’s work force drops by 50,000 in 2014 under reboot | Rick Smith | Feb. 25, 2015 | WRAL Techwire

  • daviding 10:27 am on February 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: goal, , mission, palmisano, questions   

    Four guiding questions to make a company great (Sam Palmisano, 2003/2011) 

    Four guiding questions were given in 2003 to the top 300 managers at IBM to make the company great (again):

    • “Why would someone spend their money with you — so what is unique about you?”
    • “Why would somebody work for you?”
    • “Why would society allow you to operate in their defined geography — their country?”
    • “And why would somebody invest their money with you?”

    Mr. Palmisano formulated those questions in the months after he became C.E.O. in March 2002 His predecessor, Louis V. Gerstner Jr., recruited to I.B.M. in 1993, had already pulled the company out of a financial tailspin, first reducing the size of the work force and cutting costs, and then leading a remarkable recovery.

    In meetings after he took over, Mr. Palmisano told colleagues that I.B.M. was still good, but that it wasn’t the standard-setting corporation that it had been when he joined in 1973. (A history major at Johns Hopkins and a star offensive lineman on the football team, he turned down a tryout with the Oakland Raiders of the N.F.L. for a sales job at the company.)

    The four questions, he explains, were a way to focus thinking and prod the company beyond its comfort zone and to make I.B.M. pre-eminent again.

    “This needs to be our mission and goal, to make I.B.M. a great company,” he said, according to executives who attended the gathering. [….]

    “The hardest thing is answering those four questions,” Mr. Palmisano says. “You’ve got to answer all four and work at answering all four to really execute with excellence.”

    “Even a Giant Can Learn to Run” | Steve Lohr | Dec. 31, 2011 | New York Times at
    Samuel J. Palmisano, who is departing as I.B.M.'s chief, devised four questions that pushed his huge company to stay a step ahead of rivals.

  • daviding 9:02 am on February 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , training   

    Distinction between education and training? “If my daughter told me she was getting sex education in school I’d be pleased. If she told me she got sex training I’d go straight to the police.”

    “Education versus Training” | Peter Rickman | Feb/Mar 2015 | Philosophy Now at

  • daviding 10:01 am on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alpha, beta, test, testing   

    Etymology of alpha test, beta test 

    Where did the terms “alpha” and “beta” in software development come from?

    … to beta-test is to test a pre-release (potentially unreliable) version of a piece of software by making it available to selected (or self-selected) customers and users. This term derives from early 1960s terminology for product cycle checkpoints, first used at IBM but later standard throughout the industry. Alpha Test was the unit, module, or component test phase; Beta Test was initial system test. These themselves came from earlier A- and B-tests for hardware. The A-test was a feasibility and manufacturability evaluation done before any commitment to design and development. The B-test was a demonstration that the engineering model functioned as specified. The C-test (corresponding to today’s beta) was the B-test performed on early samples of the production design, and the D test was the C test repeated after the model had been in production a while.

    Eric S. Raymond, “Beta.” The on-Line Hacker Jargon File, Version 4.4.2. May 22, 2003.

    In a description of development of storage devices at IBM in 1969:

    Before a product could be shipped, procedures in place at the time required successful completion of three levels of reliability testing designated as product tests, A, B, and C. Completion of A test was normally required before a product could be announced; it verified that the product built by the development group met design objectives. Completion of B test was required for release of the product to manufacturing; it demonstrated that the documentation supplied to manufacturing by the development group adequately specified the product. Completion of C test was required before a product could be shipped; it demonstrated that manufactured hardware performed as specified.49

    49K. E. Haughton, 24 August 1988; interview by E. W. Pugh.

    Emerson W. Pugh, Lyle R. Johnson, and John H. Palmer. 1991. IBM’s 360 and Early 370 Systems. MIT Press.
    • craig kensek 6:52 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      So that’s where it came from. I never knew there was a “c” test. Firm’s I’ve been in have sometimes announced to some of the world that a product was in alpha. After beta, we’d also have controlled release so that we could ship it to customers for revenue but not necessarily make the product available to the world. Good article.

  • daviding 8:49 am on December 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: analysis, articulation, synthesis   

    Fumio Kodama defines articulation with systems concepts of synthesis and analysis:

    The word “articulate” has two conflicting meanings:  (1) to divide into parts and (2) to put together by joints.13  Thus, the word encompasses two opposite concepts:  analysis (decomposition) and synthesis (integration).

    13 According to Webster’s dictionary, articulate comes from the Latin articulare.

    This term is used in a the specific context of new technologies and research and development.

    The most important element in targeted technology development is the process in which the need for specific technology emerges and R&D effort is targeted toward developing and perfecting it.  This is what we call demand articulation.  [….]

    In fact, both [analysis and synthesis] are necessary in technology development, and the heart of the problem concerning technology development is how to manage these conflicting tasks.  Therefore, I define demand articulation as a dynamic interaction of technological activities that involve integrating potential demands into a product concept and decomposing this product concept into development agendas for its individual component technologies.  [p. 145]

    Fumio Kodama, Emerging Patterns of Innovation: Sources of Japan’s Technological Edge, Harvard Business Press 1985, [see on Google Books]

    This idea were clarified by Kodama in a Rendez Research Salon on Innovation in Tokyo, August 2007.

    Rendez Research Salon on Innovation, Tokyo, Japan, August 2007

    In Tokyo, August 2007: Yoshi Horiuchi, Fumio Kodama, Gary S. Metcalf

    See also references to Russell Ackoff and Andras Angyal in “Systems thinking prescribes an ordering of synthesis and analysis, emphasizing superordinates (containing wholes)” | David Ing | Nov. 20, 2011 | Coevolving Innovations at

  • daviding 8:22 pm on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , designerly, interaction design   

    2014/10/21 Erik Stolterman, “Improving Design without Destroying It” (web video) 

    A designerly approach is contrasted with a scientific approach or an artistic approach by Erik Stolterman, Professor Informatics, Indiana University.

    Here’s some excerpts from the video hangout with CHI Belgium posted at  .

    [8:45] Maybe it’s more like a dilemma.  How can you improve design work without destroying it?

    [9:40] When I talk about design now, today, I do talk about design as it is practiced in the field oF HCI and interaction design.  It’s the professional practice of interaction design that I’m discussing.   However, I think that it might be applied to any design field, but that might be a topic for another discussion.

    [10:25] It seems today like every business, or every agency, or every institution believes that they should adopt some type of design thinking, because if you do, you become better at what you do in some way.  [….]

    [11:20] There is a problem with this.  There is a problem that a lot of people realized, because when you accept that design a way of approaching how to create new technologies, how to create new applications, how to create new interactive systems, you’re going to create it in a designerly way.

    [11:55] First of all, what do you mean by a designerly way?  The other question is why do you do it, what are the benefits of it?  And the third piece is what I want to talk about.  Let’s say there is a good reason for doing it — there is a good reason for doing it in a designerly way in HCI — then how can you prove that?  And this is where the dilemma comes in.

    [12:30]  Why do people believe that a designerly approach is a good thing, in our field.  First of all, you have to accept that doing things in a designerly way is a choice.  It’s not that have do it in that way.  You can choose any other approach.  You can chose a scientific approach, you can choose an artistic approach, you can choose an engineering approach.  You can choose a religious approach, if you want to.  It’s possible.

    [13:10] The choice you make is based on the idea that you believe that picking one approach instead of another gives you some benefit that you believe is beneficial to you.

    [13:40] For people who already know design, and are engaged in design, it’s has become more and more obvious over the years that design itself has become a disciplined practice.  A lot of people who don’t know design or haven’t work with design don’t see it as a disciplined practice.  […]

    [14:10] When you ask someone what is design, they come up with these descriptions that are unfortunate in many ways.  They say, well, it’s not as rational or logical as say, a scientific approach, and it’s not so stable and structured as an engineering approach, so what’s left is that design becomes this approach that is non-structured, irrational, no one really knows what it is, and it seems like anything goes.  That’s a problem.

    [14:50]  If you do understand the designerly way of doing things, you do understand that it requires a disciplined way of working.  It requires a designerly logic.  It requires a designerly, rigourous way of doing things.

    [15:20]  This approach, design, delivers unique outcomes.  It can help to create new things, innovative things, things we haven’t thought of, before.

    [15:50] So what’s the bad side?  The problem with design is that it’s not predictable.  It’s not very efficient, necessarily.  It’s filled with risk. It’s super risky.  It demands a lot of competence or skills that are not easy to acquire.  It’s not that you become a designer by reading an article and applying what you’ve learned.  That’s not how it really works.

    [16:50] And you never really know if you’ve solved the problem.  Design doesn’t solve problems.  Design changes reality.  There is no way — and this is a big problem with designers working with non-designerly people — is that you say, well, this is where we ended up, and maybe the client says that’s not what we asked for.  Well, no, but we realized through the design process that that problem that was defined was not really the problem, so we went back, and we rethought things, and we changed the way we think about the situation, and based on that, we came up with this other possible solution.  So this is the design we ended up with.  And that sounds very strange to people who are not a design thinking mode, because it becomes complete unpredictable.

    [17:45]  If you’re a client, and you want to hire designer to build an interactive application, and they suddently come up with something completely different, how do you understand that, how do you work with that?  As a client, it’s difficult.  How do you work that with a client?  This is something that designers also understand.  They understand that the way we work, with iteration, with prototyping, and experimenting and exploring, where we change both the problem and the solution at the same time through the process we’ve never done, we just run out of money.  There are no right or wrong solutions, there are just solutions with consequences.  […]

    [18:20] A lot of people who work in this area with design and a designerly approach do understand that it’s problematic to explain design, and it has its limits.  For instance, the predictability, the risks, the inefficiency, and all of those things.  It’s very expensive.  It’s cery complex.  It requires competence.

    [18:45] So they start to try to improve design. And this is where the dilemma comes in.  I call it the improvement trap.  It is a trap.  What happens is that even good designers look at the design process themselves, and they say, maybe we can make this more efficient; maybe we can make it more predictable; maybe we can make it less person-dependent.  So they try to change the design process itself, so it doesn’t have the weaknesses that a lot of people see in design.  At the same time, this is the trap.

    [19:40]  It seem to be the case that almost all of those improvements are not necessarily improvements.  They change the design process into something else.  And if you do enough of those improvements, you might actually end up with a design process that isn’t design anymore.  It’s a completely different process.  It’s not a designerly approach.  Because now, it has taken on all these other things, from other approaches.  And what that means that it can’t deliver anymore.

    [20:20]  So what is it that it can’t deliver?  It can’t deliver these unique outcomes, these new innovative outcomes that surprise people, and fascinate people with these new possibilities.  Because if you restrict the design process so that it becomes a non-design process, then it can’t deliver the outcomes that the design process has, over time, become very good at delivering.

    [20:55]  This can happen in any field.  If we take art, for instance, in art, we do know that most people accept the artistic approach as a way of creating highly personal artistic expressions about the world, or about a reality.  What’s problematic with the artistic approach?  First of all, it’s so slow.  It’s very person-dependent.  Let’s take an efficiency perspective on art.  Art is very difficult to manage,  You never really know when this artist will produce a piece of art.  So, if what you want to do is to make art more efficient, and less person-dependent, let’s have instead of having one artist that creates these personal expressions about reality, let’s hire ten who would do the same thing.  Then we have ten different people who would create the same type of artistic expressions.  If you think about that, almost everyone, even if they don’t understand art, would say, well, that’s crazy, you can’t do that.  If you that, then it’s not art anymore, and now it’s something completely different.  It’s a process that is kind of streamlined, people have to do the same thing.  Of course, it is now, which was the purpose, person-independent, it’s efficient and fast.  But at the same time, most people would argue, it’s not art anymore.  And the outcome will not be considered to be art.

    [22:40]  You can take the same thing with science, which is just the opposite, actually.  If you take science as the example, science is a really great approach to create really stable truths about reality, and it does that based on time.  It’s also a very slow and difficult process, and it has to be person-independent, so it’s contrary to art this is person-dependent.  Anyone who does science is supposed to come up with the same result.  So, why not make science more efficient?  Why have have people who want certain results pay individual scientists to come up with the results that they’re looking for?  That would be much more efficient.  It just sounds so crazy, so we wouldn’t even consider those consider that idea, even though we have those examples from, say, the tobacco industry, who have paid for a lot of interesting studies over the years.  We all know that, and everybody says that’s valid research, that’s not the way it can be done.

    [24:10] So there are some intrinsic approaches of these approaches that cannot really be changed, because if you do change them, you lose the whole purpose with that particular approach.  [….]

    [33:30]  If you want to do work to improve design,  the best thing you can do to improve design today is to not manipulate the process, but to create a better understanding of the process.  I would like to see more people focusing on the understanding part on what makes design unique instead of focusing on coming up with improved ways of changing the process.


    [37:30] A designerly approach is the approach that we take or humans uses when they want to come up with something not yet existing.  If you want to produce something, and you already know what it is, if it’s just a matter of creating it in a little bit of a variation, or in a better, maybe improve it in some way, it always has a little bit of design challenge to it, but it is mostly not a design challenge.

    [38:10] A designer approach to me is the approach where you start out with the situation, maybe a problem, but it’s not.  During the process, you realize that  the problem is not necessarily what we thought it was.  During the process, the solution changes constantly, the problem changes constantly, and the idea about what you need to do next changes constantly.  So there is this kind of very strange, nonlinear play dynamic between the situation and the problem on one hand, the solution and the final design on the other hand, and the process on the third.  And they all influence each other.  So, that’s why it’s so difficult for designers to, in advance, say what they’re going to do.

    [39:10] The design process is this very dynamic complex process that unfolds when you get to deep dive into the situation and the people and the limitations and everything that you have to deal with.  The process unfolds.  The only thing you can do, and this is what designers do, of course, you can describe the process on a high level, and you can talk about, well, we have the phase when we have to talk about the problem, and then we have the phase where we come up with some initial ideas, and then we have the phase when we do more detailed design.  That is correct on some very abstract level, but we all know, at any time in this process, it can jump back, almost to the beginning to reframe the whole problem, and it takes a completely different way.

    [40:10] That, to me, is the designerly approach.  It’s this approach where you, in a dynamic way, work between the problem, the solution and the process, and they define each other in a way that almost no other process really does.

  • daviding 4:12 pm on October 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    2014/10/17 15:15 Harold G. Nelson, “What is Systemic Design?  A Shared Inquiry”, #RSD3 

    @HaroldGNelson, second day plenary at #RSD3 Relating Systems Thinking and Design 3, at AHO, Oslo, Norway

    This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

    Program is at

    [Intro by Birger Sevaldson]

    Harold is an architect, from which he has recovered

    • Was in the Berkeley bubble of systems thinkers, Rittel, Churchman

    [Harold Nelson]

    Will do a review / assessment of the symposium, but that would require more ground work than originally thought

    This will be some thinking out load of the symposium so far

    Trying to move away from polemics

    • Family got him T-shirt:  A graduated from Berkeley, so to save time, let’s assume I’m right

    Prediction:  there will be a huge, dramatic change in design

    • People who will want to come into design not from material or experiential design fields
    • We will experience those shifts

    Work with some of these people, excited at prospect

    True believer of design, has taken over professional life

    High hopes, not sure it will take over

    Mantra / prejudices:

    • Don’t believe the design is science or art
    • It’s its own way of thinking
    • It’s rational, aesthetic

    Can’t divide systems out from design, can’t see it as two things

    • Systems is the logic of design

    David Foster Wallace:  Fish asks “how’s the water”?  What the hell is water?

    Philip Ball:  No one really understands water. … still a mystery

    So, what the hell is systemic design?

    • Interest in finding out what it is
    • What type of inquiry, when you’re immersed in it?

    Overview effect:

    • Apollo 7 astronauts taking first picture of earth
    • Transformation experience, not a new paradigm, not a breakthrough
    • Hope we hit a pivot point like this in the field of systemic design

    Hear a lot of old habit brought into the conversation

    • Believe we need a different way of looking at inquiry, at seeing what systemic design is

    Like water, design is ubiquitous yet a mystery

    Systemic design is an enigma

    • Brings humility

    Anthropocene:  ought to be the design era

    • Can’t find the natural system, one that doesn’t show influence of human activity
    • It can’t be reversed
    • We have an incredible effect on the planet
    • We have to learn how to be responsible with that, in design

    Natural systems come from unintentional consequences from the action of human beings

    • How do we become more intentional?

    Design directs evolution

    Science requires a change, a difference:  a process

    Change of process is evolution

    Change of evolution is design

    We create reality

    • In this room, what is natural?
    • We live in worlds that people have made
    • Our childhood memories, who we think we are, is all involved with the designed world

    How do I discover something in a dark room?

    The metaphor of the elephant

    • How difficult it is to describe and explain something that is complex.
    • Trick:  who am I to stand back, and say that those people don’t understand, and see the whole part of it?

    How can we see the whole?

    • What kind of inquiry do we need, to see systemic design, in its wholeness

    Designs of inquiry:  scientific, spirtual, metaphysical, design, systemic design, individual, collective

    Churchman, The Design of Inquiring Systems

    • Human beings designed the scientific method
    • Churchman showed fives ways of knowing the truth, there could be more

    In designs, if someone agrees with you, it could be true

    Collaborative inquiry:  everyone getting a piece of the action, putting things together

    One of usual first steps is to end the inquiry:

    • By Oxford Dictionary says … it ends the inquiry
    • Have to keep the inquiry open and going
    • Defining is getting to the point

    Design of scientific inquiry (which is the norm at conferences and academia)

    • Collecting evidence
    • Collecting data
    • Categorizing
    • Theorizing
    • … which is doing research

    Research doesn’t work with design

    At conferences like this, too many categories or disciplines

    • Difficult to organize

    Categories of inquiry, a Venn diagram mixing systemics, design, art

    Another first step:  systemic design inquiry

    Was head of a graduate program in Whole Systems Design (one organizational, one whole systems design)

    • Pedagogy as a design process
    • Character is learning:  design process is a learning process
    • Students designed their own learning programming
    • Designing stages of own learning progress
    • At some levels, science dominates; at other levels more managerial
    • When programs came up for accreditation, how to explain to academics what you do?
    • Not covering in breadth (like shallow everything programs) or in depth (like science programs)
    • That space created in the matrix, we connect the dots in depth and breadth
    • Accrediting people bought it
    • Ten year period

    A play on Plato’s cave

    • When we observe the same thing, we can see it’s casting different shadows in different ways
    • In a symposium, looking for shadows
    • Most people focused:  what can be implied that is casting the shadow

    Distinction between collaborative inquiry and shared inquiry

    • (1) Collaborative as seeing the divisions: disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary
    • Challenge:  how to assemble that
    • (2) Shared inquiry as seeing the whole:  multiple perspectdives
    • Linstone pulled out three perspectives from Churchman as technical, organizational and personal, used it in different ways
    • Dominant perspective in organizations tends to be technical; then look at organizational politics; then (not individual) emotional feeling things
    • In space shuttle, the cause of the O-ring only came through from the personal perspective, fear of bosses, withholding information
    • Can expand to economic, political

    Suspicion that what I’m looking at is a strange attractor

    • Like a cloud, hear multiple ways that people see
    • Form will begin to appear, as it does with a strange attractor
    • Complex dynamic systems that initially appear chaotic, but over time, hidden form appears
    • Don’t think systemic design is a simple point on a matrix

    Shared inquiry, self-organizing behavior

    • Moving away from polemics on what truth is right:  there’s more on values
    • Enjoying sharing inquiry, what that looks like, what does it feel like, how does it work.

    Modelling flocking and schooling, 3 simple rules of relationship

    • Coca-Cola took this for simple behavior manual
    • What we want, rules of relationship
    • Got the behaviors they wanted
    • Didn’t have to prescribe everything, just protocols that give rise to complex self-organizing behaviors

    What protocols could be in place to allowed self-organizing shared behavior to emerge?

    • What would come out of a self-organizing inquiry, focused on particular designs/

    Shared inquiry with three elements:

    • Conversation:  turning together in the same place
    • Dialogue:  letting things be seen through language
    • (Diascenic) Graphologue:  letting things be seen through images

    At funeral, found conversations as a way to keep bond in families, not mindless

    Can use formal dialogue

    Then what would be allowed if we had a graphologue?

    An invitation to shared appreciative inquiry, so that we can begin to understand

    • Scholarship and practice
    • Pre-socratic sophia
    • Worse after sophia got split, and then only went for knowledge
    • Doing things went to the bottom
    • Division is alive and well, destructive
    • Blue collar / white collar


    • Ernest Boyer, scholarship reconsidered
    • Scholarship was defined as teaching, research and service
    • For 21st century, need scholarship
    • discovery
    • inegraqtion
    • application
    • teaching

    In the design world:

    • Scholarship of discovery –> Inquiry for acdtion
    • Scholarship of integration –> Systemics logic
    • Scholarship of application –> Agency and service
    • Scholarhsip of teaching

    Four directdions fo inquiry into systemic design

    • Most think that research is foremost, but assessment is important
    • Not just what is true, but what should be real

    Scholarhsip of systemics

    • It’s not about huge systems
    • It means looking between things
    • Could be just 2 things

    Scholarship of agency and service

    • Students want to change the world
    • People like to change, they don’t like to be changed
    • Hearing a lot of “be changed” words going on
    • A systemic relationship between people
    • Agency:  did you turn an “is” into an “ought”?
    • Climate scientists are doing this now:  this is the case, therefore you “ought”, which politicizes
    • Being a scientist, but acting like a designer
    • Coercion by fact:  get things that happen by generating numbers, and overwhelming people
    • Learning takes place over time, takes time and maturation
    • From Dreyfus model of field development, capacitation:  novice, capable, competent, proficient, expert, master, guarantor
    • At novice level, need rules; then can challenge rules; at the end, don’t need rules
    • Harvard Business Review has lots of rules, for people who are focused between novice and maybe capable
    • Don’t sit in a class and get filled up with competence
    • Both for formal and information learning

    Evidence of supporting and advancing systemic design at RSD3?

    • Understanding systemic design?
    • Collaborative systemic design inquiry?
    • Shared system design inquiry?

    Ongoing inquiry?

    • Hope that this will emerge
    • Will be able to make sense of the shadows

    Sketchnoting of Harold G. Nelson presentation by Patricia Kambitsch at

  • daviding 4:05 pm on October 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    2014/10/17 14:00 Hugh Dubberly, “A Systems Literacy Manifesto”, #RSD3 

    Hugh Dubberly, second day plenary at #RSD3 Relating Systems Thinking and Design 3, at AHO, Oslo, Norway

    This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

    Program is at

    Presentation posted at

    [Intro by Peter Jones]

    Dubberly was editor of ACM Interactions journal, had series on simplifying and systems

    • Collaborated on language action article

    [Hugh Dubberly]

    Yesterday’s talk by Ranulph Glanville

    Second order cybernetics gives an epistemology for design

    • Moved from a detached pose, into the middle of things, where we must be responsible for actions
    • A rigourous way to learn:  framing design as conversation — and learning together
    • Places design in the realm of subjectivity, politics, and ethics

    Churchman:  Citizens has begun to suspect that the people who make major deicsions that affect our lives don’t know what they’re doing

    • … no adequate dat

    Reagan 1981:  Government is not he solution to our problems, government is the problem

    • Greek:  the root of government and cybernetics is the same, steering
    • Substitute the word “steering”:  Steering is the not the solution to our problems, steering is the problem.
    • Sold the idea that our government is not us, that it’s something bad
    • Something horrible in the U.S., need to look to Europe to help on this

    Alan Greenspan 2008:  self-interest of lending institutions to preotect shareholders’ equity .. are in a state of shocked disbelief

    • Admitting he was wrong about entire life’s work
    • Wrong that markets will regulate themselves
    • Reading Maxwell:  markets can’t regulate themselves, will fall over
    • Via Ayn Rand
    • Recently, he’s been backsliding

    Marco Rubio 2014:  do not believe that climate … scientists …

    Decision-makers … not stupidity

    • It is a literacy

    We need systems literacy in decision-makers, and in the general public

    • Body of knowledge exists
    • Schools ignore it
    • It should be taught in design, management, but also in general education

    Almost all of the problems involves systems

    Systems are

    • complex
    • evolving
    • probablistic

    Diffficult, because systems may not appear as wholes

    • Hard to see all at once

    Issue:  systems often dispersed in space

    • May only be experienced over time
    • Or we may live in systems, seeing only parts:  hidden, gossamer systems

    Natural system, information system, social system, hybrid system

    Water cycle

    Carbon cycle

    How do water cycle and carbon cycle tie together?

    Untangling messes (taming wicked problems)

    • They are observed

    Humberto Maturana, Theorem #1, 1970:  Anything said is said by an observer

    Stafford Beer:  a system is not something given in nature

    Heinz von Foerster:  What the observer says is a decription said to another observer in a language they share, creating a connection that forms the basis for a society.

    • A system with two observers.

    How should we describe systems that are complex, evolving, hidden and observed?

    Churchman outlines four approaches to systems

    • efficeincy expert
    • scientist
    • humanist
    • anti-planner

    Consider adding a fifth approach, a designer

    Basic systems literacy:

    • vocabulary (content)
    • reading (skills of analysis)
    • writing (skills of synthesis)

    Systems literacy is enriched with:

    • literature
    • history
    • connections

    A vocabulary of systems (less than 150 terms, on the complexity of baseball)

    Reading systems means recognizing common patterns in specific situations

    • e.g. resource flows and cycles, transform functions (processes), feedback loops, …

    Consider the toilet and the thermostat, different in form and strucxture

    • They’re the same in function, both are governors

    Writing systems means describing the function of systems to others, in text and diagrams

    • Text requires gymnastics
    • Pictures can help


    • Donella Meadows
    • Otto Mayr

    In many cases, simple concept maps are all the formalism require

    • Gowan and Novak, Learning How to Learn
    • Helping the education process
    • Evaluating what students knew, ask them to draw a diagram
    • Small formalism:  nodes (nous), links (verbs), then have subject-predicate-object

    Netscape search concept map:

    • Netscape circa 1999
    • Were invited to have someone on staff work with a new group of engineers to redesign Netscape’s search service
    • Had best guy Matt, meet with engineers, came back hangdog
    • They almost threw him out, but he thought he could sit in the corner and watch
    • No one else knew anything about search, either
    • Make it a learning process, try out a concept map, interview the engineers
    • Interviewed 25 engineers
    • Sketches
    • Presented to group:  a fight broke out between groups’ engineers on how search worked
    • Matt had moved from being someone who knew nothing to someone that knew everything

    As went on in practice, after leaving Netscape and setting up own business, had an engagement with Sun Microsystems to redesign the Java web site

    • Had a passing knowledge of Java
    • 150,000 pages
    • Though should know something about Java
    • Interviewed about 40 people
    • Then Lisa, the people who started the web site, said ready to meet with the distinguished engineers
    • Met with Gosling, showed messy map (same content as shown, but different form)

    Heart attack concept map

    Weight control concept map (which was hard to do)

    Drug delivery device map:  How to create a system to allow product planners to understand the tradeoff in the building of a device that will deliver a drug

    • If the drug is more viscous, the needle needs to be wider … which means the needle needs to be thicker

    Email concept map based on Henderson and Johnson

    • What a user needs to know, to use the software

    These concepts are rare in the commercial practice of design

    Was doing a map for company working in diabetes

    • Might have thought that they had a shared mental model:  not true

    Idea isn’t new:  Model from Disney

    How to acheive systems literacy?

    History: HfG Ulm had courses in operations research and cybernetics in the 1960s

    • Collection of books on systems there is greater than in most design programs today

    Believe that all graduate design programs should have courses in systems

    Coals to Newcastle, we already do this?

    • We need to be more rigourous about this.
    • One course on systems, while we’re trying to something else, is just a drive-by.
    • Should be at least 3 semesters
    • 1. Introduction to systems including systems dynamics, regulation, requisite variety
    • 2. Second-order cybernetics:  observing systems, autopoesis, learning, ethics
    • 3. Systems for conversation:  coevolution, coordination and collaboration

    Where’s the time for this?

    • Hear this from places that that have 4 or 5 courses of typography
    • … and from places that teach Verbeek and Latour

    Not enough to read courses

    • Have to discuss
    • In addition, need to appreciate multiple religions

    1. Capro, Meados, Ashby

    2. Glanville, von Foerster, Maturila and Davila

    3. …

    Recommend format as seminar + studio

    • Reading and sicussion
    • Review of common patterns

    Need fluency with common language

    • Immersion, practice and time
    • Reward, practice becomes habit, habit becomes a way of thinking

    Conclusions:  Implications of and for observing systems

    Nelson and Stolterman:  Designer need to be able to observe, describe …

    Heinz von Voerster 1979:  Pask … distinguishes two orders of analysi

    • System’s purpose
    • Own purpose

    Maturana 1997:  emotioning

    • Become respoinsible for what we do
    • We do not have to do all that we can imagine, we can choose

    We have a responsibility to make things better

    A Systems Literacy Manifesto

    Presentation posted at

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