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PLOP/PUARL 2018 Pattern Language Conference

Tree and I (Dave) spent Thursday afternoon and Friday at a joint conference of two organizations, Pattern Languages of Programs (PLOP) and Portland Urban Architecture Research Lab (PUARL), held in side by side at the Portland campus of the University of Oregon.

We learned about major pattern language initiatives overseas, including 10 pattern languages developed by Wolfgang Stark and his team in Germany (the same folks who translated Group Works into German), and 60(!) pattern languages developed by Takashi Iba and his team at Keio University in Japan (who brought 25 attendees from the Iba Lab to the conference — wow).

We are pleased that Group Works seems to be recognized as an exemplary pattern language, and has been the inspiration for some others.

Tree appreciated connecting with the diverse international community of people working in this area, and the underlying intention of social change motivating many of them. She was surprised and delighted to learn of the pattern language antecedents to the creation of both wiki (the first wiki was created to hold and modify software patterns) and agile. She especially enjoyed talking with wiki innovator Ward Cunningham, whose new Federated Wiki project shows great potential for use in connection with Group Works, and with Ross Chapin who works on “pocket neighbourhoods.” All in all, she found the conference more lively and fulfilling than she expected.

A highlight for me was Takashi’s Future of Pattern Languages presentation in which he explained that science and art are a continuum of ways of “describing the world”, and that he sees pattern languages as a new art form on that continuum, most closely related to poetry! Their newest pattern language, not yet translated, is about Wellness, in the holistic/communitarian sense, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it.

The conference convenors took advantage of our process expertise on hand by inviting Tree to lead a “World Café” at the opening session. We placed cards from Group Works and two other pattern language (PL) decks on all the tables (Tom Atlee & Martin Rausch’s Wise Democracy PL, and Liberating Voices PL for Communication Revolution) and used them to help spark conversation. Some themes that emerged at the table conversations I participated in were: a shared purpose of empowerment, a shared orientation towards improving effectiveness through improving personal capacity, a common process of mining expertise and experience through stories, a shared process design methodology, and, above all, a common objective of contributing to joyful life, in the collective sense of the entire connected community of life on our planet.