Principles for Pattern Implementation

Since Alex and I are giving a talk soon (hopefully) on city/urban planning and the internets, I figured I would just blog my notes. Hope you like.

The following seven principles are from a book called A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander et al., and they describe the method by which builders should implement the “patterns” laid out in subsequent chapters of the book. The patterns used by the book are essentially design guidelines, and they range from exceptionally broad (creating rings of similar density throughout a town or region) to exceptionally specific (having multiple types of chairs within a common space). It’s a rad book:

  1. The region is made up of a hierarchy of social and political groups, from the smallest and most local groups – families, neighborhoods and work groups – to the largest groups – city councils, regional assemblies.
  2. Each group makes its own decisions about the environment it uses in common.
  3. Each of these groups takes responsibility for those patterns relevant to its own internal structure.
  4. Each neighborhood, community or city is free to find various ways of persuading its constituent groups of individuals to implement these patterns gradually.
  5. Implementation should be loose and voluntary, based on social responsibility, and not on legislation or coercion.
  6. Experts use patterns to inform their construction of lower-level places, using any higher patterns that the community has adopted.
  7. It is possible for individual acts of building to begin working their way toward communal patterns before neighborhood, community and regional groups are formed.

All are a reminder that the stuff we all ramble on about today – when talking about building successful communities online, etc. – is old news once the sheen of digital is washed away.

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