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Letter to proposers

To: all pattern proposers (as of June 17, 2002)
To: all pattern proposers (as of June 17, 2002)
Subject: Pattern Language Update
Date: June 17, 2002

Hello Pattern Proposers!

Thank you for your participation so far! The pattern set is becoming quite impressive (have you looked lately?) and I'm hoping you'll be to continue participating. I'm also planning to start a listserv so please let me know if you don't want to be included on that list. (To add your name go to

I thought I'd send you a brief note to let you know a little about the status of the pattern project and to get your ideas related to the next phase. I hope you'll be able to take the time to read this and get back to me. (I'll be sending out a note to everybody associated with the project / symposium soon. I wanted to send a note to the people who entered patterns first. )

As most of you know many patterns were presented at DIAC-02 in Seattle ( last month. We also had two "open space" sessions (May 18-19) within the symposium in which we dealt with the entire set of patterns and discussed the next steps for the project. We had the abridged patterns displayed around the room and three notebooks that contained all patterns in their unabridged state were also available. During this workshop several of us worked to arrange ("cluster") the patterns in some reasonable way. (The results are shown in This clustering will not necessarily be the way that we ultimately arrange the patterns but we hope it gets us closer to the end result. You may want to check this out and see what patterns were placed near yours.

As many of you know I'll be convening a workshop ( and giving a presentation ( at the participatory design conference (PDC '02; in Malmo, Sweden on June 24 and June 25. To prepare for that and to continue the process of crafting a pattern language from the patterns we have I'd like to ask you for any thoughts as to where we should go next.

I've put together seven brief questions that I think can help us determine what to do next.

[1] Important Patterns
Please name 1-5 patterns (other than your own) that you believe are particularly important: Ones that you feel should definitely or almost definitely be part of the finished pattern language. (The pattern system containing all of the patterns can be found at

[2] Links to your Patterns
For each pattern that you've entered, please list 1-10 patterns that you believe are strongly related to yours. This should help us identify useful clusters of patterns.

[3] Ordering
The patterns in "A Pattern Language (Alexander et al, 1977) are ordered from most general to most specific. The patterns are also batched into subgroups as well. For example, patterns 2-7 in the book are all related to the major issues within an independent region. Do you have any ideas how the patterns in our pattern language might be ordered? Do you have ideas what types of *subgroups* we might want to use?

[4] Future Capabilities
We now have some search capabilities built into the system and we've discussed adding support for linking and annotating patterns and for providing feedback more easily to authors. What capabilities do you think should be incorporated into the next version of the online Pattern Resource System?

[5] Name for Project
We have been calling the product we're developing "A Pattern Language for Living Communication" to reflect our belief and desire for communication systems that truly meet human and humane needs. At the same time, this name is ambiguous and general. Is there a better name for the project?

[6] People Process
What suggestions / ideas do you have in relation to the roles and responsibilities that people could assume to help with the future development of the system? Are there any roles / responsibilities that YOU might be willing to assume?

[7] Missing Pattern Topics
How do we know what patterns and what pattern topics are missing? I have some suggestions (see below) but if you have any ideas, please let me know! My sense is that we still have important gaps to fill.

Other Questions? What other questions do you have? Criticisms? Doubts? Other issues we haven't thought of?

Although we don't have a feedback or annotation system implemented, it still is important -- and fairly easily accomplished -- to give feedback to other pattern proposers. If you have any thoughts you'd like to relay to your fellow pattern proposers, please send them! The email addresses of nearly all proposers are on the resource site.

I also encourage you to continue to work with your patterns (or to add more). Some are virtually done -- good evidence, graphics, sources, etc. while some (including some of mine!) are incomplete. Some changes / enhancements I'd suggest are: make your title *positive* -- something you advocate; add graphics if you don't have them -- the improve the pattern considerably; tighten up *context* -- this simply means the time, place, type of people, etc. where your pattern is particularly appropriate. Please give your pattern a look -- people *are* looking at them AND, of course, we're trying to move this ahead... And can you think of any interim deliverables such as publishing opportunities or events that might be particularly appropriate for moving this work along?

I think we are off to a excellent start. WE have 150 or so patterns from over100 authors. The idea of building a collective "knowledge structure" (our pattern language) that helps inspire and educate researchers, activists, policy-makers, artists and citizens is an exciting long-term goal.

Thanks again for your past and future participation!!!

-- Doug

Public Sphere Project
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

PS. We need for patterns from all relevant domains and situations. This is a wide-ranging, global project and we need your help!

open source We
human rights are especially
collaborations encouraging additional
civil liberties patterns in these
disabled community areas...
roll your own media
developing countries
alternative technologies
environmental informatics
gender, ethnicity, age
cultural expression
war and militarism
culture jamming
media critique

What about??

            Citizen Diplomacy, Citizen Science, Emergency Communication Networks

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