1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Article/doc by Helene Finidori
Patterns that Connect: Exploring The Potential of Patterns and Pattern Languages in Systemic Interventions Towards Realizing Sustainable Futures.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Helene, I have just “read” your excellent “doc”.  I have never encountered a doc like this, and I am hard put to say that what I did with it was “reading”. I want to say it is the most “complex” doc I ever encountered, but I’m not satisfied with calling it primarily “complex”. It might also be the most “comprehensive” doc I’ve encountered.  I attended and presented at two ISSS conferences: Budapest 1987 and Asilomar 1994. Now, there are many docs I might attempt to read, but be unable to process them. I claim that I comprehend the basic themes of your doc. Otherwise, I couldn’t make statements about its “complexity” or “comprehensiveness”. I will discuss these themes later in this doc.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Yet, the terms “pattern” and “language” and their coupling can’t find traction anywhere in my mental reality. I am well aware of examples of patterns and languages, and even might consider what I am typing now as a “pattern language”; but these examples are NOT what you refer to in your doc. Yet, throughout the doc, every time I saw those words there was a blindspot behind it. This is, for me, a weird phenomenon, totally new and challenging.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Everything I have ever read about “pattern languages” has been like this. For me, the docs are pure abstraction, as if “pattern language” was the variable “x” in a concrete mathematical treatise. I see mention of concrete examples, but they are never part of the docs. I have not searched all of the references, but those I have looked at did not help me.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 I have seen mention of diagrams on cards, as a crude example – but never know how these are used by persons in a manner I might call “languaging”.  None of the icons related to me as representative of the concept they were to represent. Those without visual imagery would be unable to participate. A video of their use would be very helpful.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 ——————–

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Helene, I grok that you and I are working in the same domain, but coming at it from widely different approaches. Many of the persons and topics you mention I am aware of.  The last time I looked at cybernetics, there were only two orders; and was interested in learning there are now four. I wish I had the time and mind to study your doc and read many of your references. You have identified and collected so, so many essential distinctions. [I still think back on Spencer-Brown’s LAWS OF FORM, making “distinction” the fundamental of reality.]

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 I had to read most sentences more than once, and often only got a inkling of what was being said. Each would require study – for me. In a way, you write as I do – trying to make each sentence as general as possible, with strings of words instead of only one. I know what I would need to do to optimally comprehend each paragraph.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Each paragraph, and there were many, was a different cross-section of reality. Each was a “pattern”. How they “hung together” in themes was the beginning of a “language of conceptual schemes”. Patterns within patterns within patterns, etc.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 I am told my ideas are too complex for most people to comprehend. This doc makes mine look like a kindergarten sketch. Yet, I think we share two challenges, and maybe are imagining the same “vehicle”.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The longterm survival/thrival of Humankind/Gaia is our shared goal. You phrase it as achieving a sustainable global humanity this century, which I agree must be our first step.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 I characterize our contemporary “reality” as high in MSC (Magnitude/Scope/Complexity). You provide many variations of this theme. We humans share the problem of trying to do too much with too little. I have recently encountered my personal threshold: that what is necessarily relevant to me is beyond my reach – a virtual infinity of information to access and process. I play with many insights of how to meet this seemingly impossible challenge; as do you.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 We both seek solutions in how we humans interact, with nu tools, technologies, languages, insights. I speculate that what I am calling “semfields” you are calling “pattern languages”. I propose  sem = pattern. We need to explore this later.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 ————————————–

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 My strategy involves radically changing humans and human social systems, as well as inventing/using new technologies. I not only propose the need for UPLIFT, but that individual humans may not be capable of being the primary deciders working with pattern languages or semfields.  This is more than we must learn to work well in teams and crews, as individuals; but that when working on societal issues it is the team, crew, or tribe that is the primary decider. The bandwidth for human cognition is too narrow. I am very early in thinking on this, as I am becoming aware that our best knowledge about ourselves is both inadequate and often inaccurate.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Finally, I remain very concerned that our direct objectives, at this time, may NOT BE sustainability, or even surviving climate change. These must be our goals – the consequence of achieving our objectives. Our objectives must be to create a nu global humankind competent to implement steps required for sustainability and avoiding climate catastrophe. At this time humankind lacks the competencies to do what is needed, even should we discover what to do.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [This distinction between objective and goal I find essential – and it was a distinction use by the National Science Foundation in their grant proposals in the 1960s. They also distinguished between evaluation measures for behavioral objectives AND activity performance.]

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 To this end, attempting to transform governments and corporations to heal Gaia – even using pattern languages – may be impossible.  If so, then UPLIFT to Societal Metamorphosis may be the only alternative.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 I expect that emerging a functional pattern-language/semfield would be much better working within an “isolated” UPLIFTING movement than within collapsing social and societal systems. All the variables you identify in your doc might better emerge within populations fully committed to it, and not having to face opposition.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 PATTERN

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Crudely, I think of a pattern as the geometric content of a structure, its form. The text or sequences of symbols (letters) on this screen is a structure, which I perceive. I am not ready to call my experiential perceiving this structure as a pattern. The hypothesized neural-molecular processes with my brain architecture might eventually be empirically associated with my reporting about my experientials. I find it important to distinguish between hypothesized patterns or structures “out there”, the hypothetical associated processes in my mind/brain, the actual “conscious” experientials, and the patterns in my report of my experientials.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Decades back I invented a distinction: Processing STRUCTURE and Structuring PROCESS. I had to re-edit it from an outmoded format and post it as a file in my blog. My current reading leaves parts confusing – but I still believe the distinction is important.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 I speculate that the distinction between patterns within nature and patterns created by humans is very significant – although the boundary may not be precise.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 The star field constellations, the structure of our solar system, our DNA, and the pattern of the human face invariant over a lifetime (used in facial recognition) are patterns within nature AND we can represent these patterns in drawings and data sets, human created patterns to be perceived on a digital screen.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Elsewhere I have proposed that patterns-within-structures CREATED by humans ARE UNIQUE IN OUR UNIVERSE. I call them sems (for semiotic structures) and in configurations I call semfields. With sems, humans liberate information from all prior embedment in matter/energy systems. This has added new fundamental dimensions to Gaia and has shifted our future beyond the laws of evolution. The implications are, at this time, well beyond imagination. Humankind’s lack of comprehension of its dependence on its semfields may be the root cause of our current Crisis-of-Crises; but with comprehension may provide what we need for multi-millennial survival/thrival of Humanity/Gaia. This proposal calls for evaluation.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 A book read a while back continues to bug me as to its potential relevance. Coming to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid Catastrophes, by Viki McCabe. It is proposed that some patterns are not perceived as usual, but are directly inputted into our brains. Facial recognition patterns is the exemplar. I have forgotten the details of this book, as I have of all books I have read. I cite it here as I intuit it will be significant.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 —————-

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 LANGUAGE

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 I grok that the “language” in “pattern languages” attempts to generalize how humans interact by mutual reference to patterns beyond the spoken and written languages of our traditions.  I imagine a team of persons mutually making a building, through gestures and sounds, but no spoken or written language; but with reference to symbols on cards – a very primitive semfield.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Your citing Wiki as a meta-pattern generator is significant. I interpret Wiki as an OS for creating/maintaining/using semfields.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 Over the decades I have explored the need for new/nu visual, digital “languages”. They need to permit the integration of both nested and networked patterns. They would incorporate symbols (both words and icons) with standardized visual attributes (color, size, font) distributed in 2D space where “syntax” is coded to location in 2D space. Sounds can be independent patterns, along with movements of symbols. Readers may “drive” the visual. This language can’t be spoken, although spoken language may accompany its use. The current visual language being used here is grossly inadequate to represent the MSC of our conceptual schemes.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 The vast diversity of human cognition must be accounted for in the development of pattern languages and semfields. Not all patterns can be perceived, let alone comprehended by everyone. Nor will “translations” always be possible. Only a small population will ever comprehend your doc, no matter what language expresses it. Although the global population can be very significantly uplifted, and even more with future generations, there will always remain wide distributions of variation among individual persons.  I grok that many “issues” will require specialized crews to work on; and where no individual person can comprehend the whole or be sole decider.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 I foresee many generations of development for humanity, to make full use of our potentials. Looking forward from a few generations ahead, after successful UPLIFT and Cultural/Societal Metamorphosis, is well beyond our current capacity to imagine, today. We are cultural/societal infants. Yet, there will be a minimum we must accomplish in the next few decades.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 Helene, which of the many features you cite in your doc should be given priority?

One Responses

  • HeleneFinidori

    Hi Larry, I promised a response more elaborate than my first reaction, so here I am.
    of all, I feel honored because you are very wise and savant and one of
    the people who understand the most complexity and its nuances that I
    have encountered. I take your first remark as a compliment.
    are right to feel some discomfort with the term pattern language. Many
    of the ‘pattern language’ terms associated with the term pattern, I have
    ‘added’ in order to say I was not only focusing on patterns, but on the
    whole area of pattern languages. I’m not sure I defined pattern
    language very well in the paper, and there are no references really on
    pattern languages stricto sensu. This is something I need to work on
    To me pattern language is the art and output of
    combining patterns into a system of signs which can provide meaning /
    orientation that is greater than the sum of the parts, with
    possibilities to inquire about and change each relationship and
    combination to better understand and fit the context. 
    When you
    mention cards or diagrams, I’m not sure if you refer to my own or to
    other sets such as Pattern Dynamics, Groupworks or Liberating voices. 
    The cards I created have been used in combination to tell ‘systemic
    stories’ in a variety of ways: human relationships, power relations,
    business process, conflict etc…
    As far as domains and
    distinctions are involved, I have the hunch that cybernetic orders can
    help make sense of / unpack the different cross sections of reality
    (which I call dimensions or factors). This allows to look at feedback,
    relationships and evolution among things of different nature, at
    different levels, and at successively greater scales to differentiate
    In this respect, thanks for the reference to
    Specer-Brown’s Laws of Form. This adds to the corpus on universals that I
    will be digging further into starting with Bertalanffy’s isomorphies.
    far as the construction of the paper, bringing together very different
    things, with very dense paragraphs: I admit I brought in this paper a
    few years of my work and many directions I have explored. We must see
    this as an outline of the PhD I will be working on, where I will further
    unpack and elaborate on each paragraph or even sentence. Part of my
    work will be to identify ways of segmenting, making cross sections to
    see things in many possible lights and how they hang together, in the
    manner 3D cartography does. This is what I would like to ‘tool’, I see
    the pattern as the connector.
    On your work being a kindergarten
    sketch, you exaggerate I think ☺! But as far as challenges and vehicles
    are concerned, yes indeed we share a lot, you mentioned the semfields
    and propose sem=pattern and semfield=pattern language. I would like to
    explore this further too (more later).
    I think no one can
    embrace the magnitude / scope / complexity of ‘reality’ as a whole. But
    it should be possible to create tools that help people make sense of (1)
    what is directly adjacent or can be reconnected to what is familiar or
    (re) cognizable and (2) how they are ‘positioned’ in the greater order
    of things whatever ‘embracing’ this might be… and to expand both…
    as you say than working on sustainability directly, I think it is about
    expanding our ‘perception’ and mediation tools, to increase systemic –
    semiotic ‘literacy’ and our capacity to expand it. I also agree it is no
    use to try and convince those who are not willing to engage in this
    type of approach. Though I believe a lot can be done with proper
    discussion tools to ‘widen circles’ by ‘contagion –wishful thinking
    As far as patterns are concerned, both the patterns ‘out
    there’ and our experiential perception of it can co-exist. Structure
    processing being on the ‘decoding’ side and processing structure on the
    ‘encoding’ side. I like your blog on this and will process it further in light of what I suggest below 🙂
    I think the distinction can be made with a
    Piercean semiotic approach of the multifaceted pattern as triadic sign
    encompassing (1) the pattern ‘out there’, (2) the pattern in my mind,
    (3) the pattern as ‘captured and conveyed / represented to others. These
    are the ‘facets’ of reality and how they are processed (emission /
    reception). People tend to conflate the three facets, or get into
    conflictual discussions arguing which one is a ‘real pattern’. I suggest
    holding the pattern in nature (what is observed, processed and
    captured) as boundary object allowing to confront / compare patterns in
    mind and representations of it. I would like to further dig into the
    correlation between my triadic semiotic pattern and your sems and
    semfields. Would you have some documentation to point me to on how you
    understand / mean seems and semfields? I probably already have some
    links but this would prevent me looking for them… but your blog has more to it I think.
    As far as
    language is concerned, I would also like to further explore your ideas
    for visual / digital language. What you describe briefly fits with what I
    had in mind. I’m thinking of something that ‘plays’ with analogy and
    the use of isomorphism / homomorphism. I’m thinking of clusters, clouds
    of similar symbols / meaning vehicles that express more or less the same
    concept that could be used to connect things together in a lose way.
    would enable groups working independently as you suggest, to inquire,
    when they come together, at the boundary of their own understanding and
    knowledge, using these ‘clouds’ of isomorphic / homomorphic patterns,
    traveling from adjacent form to adjacent form like people can navigate
    through meaning in the visual thesaurus for example.
    Last you ask
    about what priority should be given to the features I list. I’m not
    sure how to answer this question. I would say on a practical
    perspective, maybe start with finding and connecting together isomorphic
    representations of elementary systemic interpretation elements so
    people can start working together.
    Thanks so much Larry for your
    questions, insights and the time you spent on getting a grasp of my
    paper. Let’s pursue this conversation.


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