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PatternLanguage | FifteenProperties

...this is the next work to do... translate these things into Open Space, or rather make some notes here about where we can notice each property manifesting within the OpenSpaceTechnology process.


From The Nature of Order

Patterns are only one approach to providing guidance in design. Another is to set forth basic properties such as Christopher Alexander has done in his more recent work. He claims these are properties of natural, as well as designed, beauty. "Beauty", however, in this case, is not skin deep. These properties of good design (and the natural order) are supportive of life and growth.

Here are the Fifteen Properties:

1. Levels of scale.

ChrisCorrigan? posted notes about invitation and quadrants here, but i think that these fit better as echoes.... after all, the various invitations to attend, to post, to attend breakouts and followup with action are sometimes made to THE SAME group, no scale at all.

The decisions about the size of the question/issue to be addressed, the number of people to be invited, and how to roll the results out to the next levels of people seem more about scale. How big a meeting/event IS this going to be? How many people are required to make a shift on this particular issue? Who is usually involved and what results usually occur? ...and then how to ramp that up by the 1:2, 1:4 prescription, in order to get 2-4 or more times the results... in the meeting.

Then perhaps echoes takes care of the rippling through the organization.

2. Strong centers.

"Whenever a center is formed, successive structure preserving transformations will call out smaller centers around and within it, which, by virtue of their spatial positioning, are arranged in just such a way that it strengthens the first center. As the architecture unfolds and more structure preserving transformations are applied, this will happen with all the centers in the system."

In OST, the center is formed by the circle, structure defining what is core, the participants turned inward to reflect on what lies in front of them all, between each of them. It is as if the system is a seed and everything that IS is bundled up in the centre.

The market place is the catalyst for the smaller centres to break out, form around the original centre. The original centre of the circle is gone physically, and yet the echo of that centre is carried within hearts and minds to the subsequent reconfigurations. Soon, as invitation scales through the system, the smaller centres form to take on the characteristics of the larger one. And then, in the act of breathing, the larger centre is reconfigured, with its seed potential glimpsed and the possibility of transformation realized.

3. Alternating repetition.

Circles of course, and the return to the marketplace between sessions, alternating between the smaller circles and the echo of the larger one manifest in the passion posted on the wall. Postings are latent centres, and the more I think about this the more it connects with seeds and growth. Anything can happen in these unformed centres, including nothing. The Law of Two Feet keeps people checking in and keeps participants alternating between big and small,/

4. Boundaries.

"Each center gives rise to one or more (fuzzy) boundaries which enclose the center itself, and also which enclose the adjacent centers around it. As the centers are intensified and more centers are added (using structure preserving transformations) the boundaries will intensify and form bigger boundaries which intensify the centers within them. As this process repeats itself under more structure preserving transformations, these boundaries will occur repeatedly throughout space."

Lots to play with here. Non-physical boundaires like centres bounded by themes, which are fuzzy, and which "bleed" into the overall theme of the event. Also physical boundaries like circles of chairs which form up, can become large, but maybe not as intense (depth and span). Aural boundaries of sound which become intense and grow to encompass other centres. If the centres grow big enough that they are bumping into one another, people become bees. Transformation WILL take place.

But seriously, I'm wondering at this point whether NoO? thinks that depth matters? Is it bigger that creates the transformation? Sure, on one plane.

5. Positive space.

"Repeated structure preserving transformations will take such latent centers make it more center-like, resulting in center that are more "solid". As this empty space of latent centers is filled, pushed, pulled, connected, each piece of it becomes a center and hence more "positive"."

We're covering familiar ground now. A room set up for OST sand participants is full of seed energy, whether it is in the circle of chairs, the grid, the designated meeting places...all invitations for centres to manifest themselves and become occupied.

Law of Two Feet ensures positive space as people take negative energy (ie. personally unproductive energy) away from the centre to the margins. Positive space emerges, and induces positive feedback too.

6. Good shape.

"As centers become reinforced and intensified, latent centers become definite centers and take on "good shape" which in turn are reshaped as the design unfolds. [How is this different from "Boundaries"?] In this manner, vague centers are reshaped and strengthened with more definite centers. The overall shape of the centers is intensified by these transformations and itself becomes a center possessing "good shape."

Getting more abstratc now, and perhpas digging into the less physical realms. Up to this point, physical design has influenced the kinds of conversation and engagements that happens within or around the centres. Now we are getting into value and quality and so we are leaving behind the external world and moving into the left hand side, perhaps even upper left quad.

Conversation in Open Space leads to ideas being given shape. It is "good" shape becasue of the principles and especially the first two combined with the Law. Everything that happens continues to support the emergence of shaped ideas that are, by definition, "good."

7. Local symmetries.

"Recurring, and often co-located, structural similarities which strengthen and reinforce centers, and which are themselves strengthened, reinforced, and replicated. [Sounds like fractals to me.]. Local symmetry will almost always intensify any center. Each local symmetry intensifies some local center. Gradually, the density of such local symmetries will increase."

How does one centre "know" what another centre is? There must be some transformation of knowledge about the state of centres inorder for symmetry to evolve. The Law of Two Feet is this conduit, and it sets the tone for how knowledge of the event during the event ("metadata" of the emerging design of both physical and dialogic space) is shared. We don't know what how or why things will find their way between conversations (no predefined memes) but we do know that it will happen, and better that that we have designed structure to invite it to happen. So use your feet.

8. Deep interlock and ambiguity.

8. Deep interlock and ambiguity. .

9. Contrast.

10. Gradients.

11. Roughness.

12. Echoes.

Invitation echoes...

Quadrant echoes...

...and through the centre of the torus again through to practice:

13. The Void.

14. Simplicity and Inner Calm.

15. Not-separateness.


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Last edited June 30, 2003 10:52 am CentralTimeUSA by Chris Corrigan
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