2018/10/26 10:45 Douglas Schuler, “Pattern Languages are Particularly Well Suited for Addressing Wicked Problems”, PUARL Conference

Plenary by @doug_schuler at @PUARLuo 2018 Conference.

PLoP-PUARL 2018
Doug Schuler, PUARL 10th Anniversary Conference

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Doug Schuler is a board member of The Public Sphere Project, and emeritus faculty from Evergreen State College


Had pitched Liberating Voices to Christopher Alexander, some years back

  • He liked it

Wicked problems

  • Taking problems in nature, and adding human being make them more complex

Wicked problems won’t be solved by:

  • government
  • free market
  • AI
  • lucky breaks
  • divine intervention

What’s needed?

  • A lot of people who are interested in addressing the problems, working together
  • Won’t be communicating
  • Won’t be top-down
  • People with purpose, motivation, creativity
  • All levels
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Can improve coordination

Why pattern languages?

  • General, but localizable (slightly different in each location)
  • We see in patterns
  • Possibilities to cross boundaries
  • Patterns are semi-structured

Why are patterns not so useful?

  • They’re hard to locate, all over the place
  • They’re only useful at one point time
  • Sometimes hard to understand
  • Hard to apply, to incorporate in plans
  • Could be better for group use

Developing paper in a book:  requirements for addressing wicked problems

  • What patterns offer, and where they’re limited

Looking for collective impact:  common approach for getting communities together to work on a problem, to focus energies

  • Common agenda
  • Shared measurement
  • Plant of action
  • Open and continuous communications
  • Backbone organization

Enabling characteristics, worked on this over some years on Civic Intelligence (groups working together fairly and equitably)

  • Social change doesn’t focus on just one thing
  • A superset
  • e.g. having attitude and aspirations:  if don’t have stake, even if have money and responsibility, won’t
  • Working on wicked problems relies on social learning:  the group you have now isn’t the group you’ll have in a few years

Have recommendations

1. Three types of patterns

  • Domain (add purpose and ontology)
  • Enabling patterns
  • Usage patterns (patterns about patterns)

2. Supporting systems

  • Pattern catalog
  • Tools to help people find patterns
  • Direct and indirect coordination

3. As a community

  • Use a wicked problem focus:  e.g. migration issue
  • Should work on them collaboratively
  • Marketing (to let the world know)
  • Would like to make engagement and social responsibility cool again.

PPLs:  Patterns of Pattern Languages

  • Not domain specific

Developed an app, Activist Mirror

  • A way to pick patterns out of a hat, to help people
  • It takes all sorts of people to make social change

Some usage patterns

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#pattern-language, #puarl2018