Pattern Sphere

The purpose of the Pattern Sphere (PS) is to support the use of patterns and languages to help address difficult social and environmental problems collaboratively. In fact, the user covenant that registered users agree to stipulates that they use it that way.

Each "pattern" is a structured description of successful ideas and actions. Patterns are general, not recipes with precise instructions. They're intended to be adapted to meet the needs of the people using them. This approach is not a cure-all and it's not intended to replace other approaches. And the online approach that we need hasn't been developed.

The pattern language approach was first presented in A Pattern Language, a book devoted to human structures that promote beauty and life that contains 253 patterns. The Liberating Voices book has 136 patterns and each pattern, from Civic Intelligence to Retreat and Reflection, focuses on positive social change.

The PS is intended to support people throughout the entire life-cycle of social change activities from creating new patterns and commenting on existing patterns to using patterns to develop new projects. As the PS provides more services, people, working individually or on teams, will be able to find patterns, select patterns to use, annotate patterns (for their own use or to help others), create new patterns, brainstorm with patterns, join teams, etc. etc. We also plan to offer alternative ways for people to perform each of these tasks — knowing that people have different styles and take different approaches.

Our work thus far on the PS system has been to develop services on an as-needed basis. Currently, individuals and teams can select patterns and comment on them which is translated into a group assessment. We have worked with the two groups listed below, the Limits Workshops community and the Poetry and Permaculture class of the Comparative History of Ideas (CHID) department at the University of Washington.

If patterns and pattern languages are to have any lasting and tangible effects, many capabilities need to be further developed, including federated pattern language repositories, support for collaboration, team workspaces, search capabilities, pattern sharing, etc. Developing this system will require the work of many people: UI/UX designers, PHP / MySQL programmers, testers, pattern and pattern language experts, community development, outreach, and others. Specific tasks include:

If you are interested in using the system or in helping out with development, please visit the Pattern Sphere project page on the Democracy Lab site for more information and information on volunteering.