Ming the Mechanic:

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 Patterns2002-12-03 15:39
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Patterns interest me greatly. No, not on wallpaper or embroidery. The patterns that people or ideas or things might be arranged in, and what those different patterns mean, or what they allow to happen. That is essential to fields spanning from architecture to organization to language to magic.

It is probably Chris Alexander who most brought forward that way of looking at patterns. He is an architect who wrote "A Pattern Language". It is at first glance a book about architecture, about building buildings. But really it is about the patterns of arranging things so that good things happen with and for people. It contains a 'vocabulary' of hundreds of detailed patterns and describes in detail why they are arranged that way, and what they accomplish. And what I find most interesting is the possibilities in taking a similar philosophy much further, and finding it in other places. The following is from a review of the book by audrey_the_librarian:
"While others have noted that Alexander's ideas inspired changes in software engineering, I would also like to note that the author's ideas were, in turn, most likely informed by others, such as neuroscientist Karl Lashley and, in particular, linguist Noam Chomsky. Chomsky developed the idea of a generative grammar, composed of constituent symbols, a set of rules and a set of terminal elements, which together describe all possible sentences in a language. This was considered revolutionary at the time and is quite similar to Alexander's characterization of his patterns, described as a context combined with a system of forces or rules generating an infinite number of solutions in the form of sets of specific design elements. That configuration, in turn, becomes the context for another pattern. The theory's dynamism and scalability render it very powerful indeed.

I think another interesting approach to this philosophy would be to reverse engineer our own environment. To say, Obviously there is a Pattern Language at work in the larger world in which we live, and it is decidedly in opposition to what Mr. Alexander and others, including myself, believe is preferred. What are the rules of that language? What is the context within which those elements operate? The author codifies a desirable Pattern Language. I'd like to see his principles used to turn an eye toward decodifying our own milieu. This is the kind of book that leads one to think and imagine, and isn't that a wonderful thing?"
Yes, indeed, reverse engineering and decodifying the world we live in, to be able to talk about its patterns - that would be a very good thing.

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4 Dec 2002 @ 00:10 by jstarrs : What would a reverse engineering...
..or neuroscientific mandala (pattern?) look like?  

4 Dec 2002 @ 01:09 by ming : Pattern
Heheh, I just realize there wasn't exactly any examples there. Well, a pattern could be something as simple as noticing that if people are meeting in a circle then they tend to feel like equals, and they would tend to talk about something in the middle of the circle, rather than talking at eachother. Whereas if you all sit in rows, and one person is up front talking, that person is given elevated status, and the other people can't see eachother, so they aren't talking.

I haven't looked at what that guy Lashley was about, but I'm indirectly familar with Noam Chomsky's stuff through NLP. You can discover how somebody structures their model of reality by listening closely to what they're actually saying. NLP has various approaches for discovering what it is people are leaving out of their speech, like often the specifics of what they're really talking about.  

4 Dec 2002 @ 01:57 by jstarrs : Yeah..
Arnold Mindell's (http://www.processwork.org/)Process Work uses a similar method with all the senses - occulted 'messages' can be found by switching senses to open up the unconscious message.
i.e. if a person says he 'doesn't see it', you can ask him if he can maybe hear what it might sound like. Funny, I always felt NPL was for germano/nordic people!!! ;0)  

4 Dec 2002 @ 02:37 by ming : Switching Senses
I'm a germano/nordic person, so sure. Yeah, the switching senses thing can be interesting. Often people can have very deep experiences with senses they haven't been very used to using. One might become particularly aware of its nuances.  

Other stories in
2014-11-07 23:12: Welcome to the 5th dimension
2011-11-07 17:22: Notice the incidental
2010-07-14 13:35: Consciousness of Pattern
2010-06-28 00:03: Pump up the synchronicity
2009-10-29 14:03: Convergent or Divergent
2007-08-05 23:45: Perverse incentives
2007-06-22 22:18: Elementary magic
2007-03-21 14:20: Cymatics and group formation
2007-03-15 01:06: Structural holes
2007-02-27 23:50: Leverage

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