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

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]

#asianplop2015, #christopher-alexander, #jim-coplien, #pattern-language

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

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.

#asianplop2015, #christopher-alexander, #pattern-language