Pattern Languages, part 11: Patterning

In a network: thinks, gatherings and things.

Let’s start with structure: augmenting our cognition, weaving foresight and memory into new patterns of interaction, patterns of play. Thinks, gatherings and things. Room for all of our stuff. Enough stuff that we can play.

Play: Instigation

Game: Immersion

Win: Inspiration

Combining all three, via negotiated self-interest, is often a good enough approach, weaving engagement (media, social media, platforms) with return on engagement.

Cards take on specific, particular meaning, depending on the existing play, game and win — conditions. Eg win can be extended to a slightly more preferable eg inclusive, ecosystemic and seven generation — win^n.

Cards can here be taken as 103% about slightly more developed signs. Eg post-it notes can be used instead of cards, but cards would allow us to add social computing and social machine capabilities.

Cards can thus be seen, understood and played, as possibility space affordances. Cf game design for more on problem and possibility spaces.

Card: Patterning

flow = structure x process

“x” = patterning

Context, Possibility Space, Sensemaking, Paradigm f(understanding), Solution Space f(generative sequences, paths, chreods, flows (M. Csikszentmihalyi), structures (A. Bejan, J. Roos), processes (T. Hernes)), Play f(patterns of play, relationship, interaction, structure-preserving transformation, play^n), Story

Patterning: work, knowledge, play and win^n.

The twin helix named “knowledge” is both knowledge annealing and knowledge scaffolding, enabling path and movement.

virtue & path; path & virtue

Path: Knowledge Navigation (eg reasoning by situational awareness, generative space and preferable outcome)

Over time, evolving with contextual intelligence, virtue begets structure and structure capital.

Similarly, over time, also evolving with contextual intelligence, path begets process and process capital.

The pull, the (center) attractor drawing forth both path and virtue, is almost always questions, either explicated or implied in the events(virtue) and/or lines of inquiry (path).

Knowledge can thus be seen as resulting in and co-evolving with some form of participation. Participation is *the* organizing principle. Governance is multi-order cybernetics applied to participation.

The process dimension of participation is play:

interactions, conversations and transactions.

The structure dimension of participation is patterning:

patterns of play, relationship, interaction, structure-preserving transformation and play^n.

Questions. Fifty principles of play. A deck of cards, method cards — to play, playfulness, gamefulness and finite/infinite play, what the IDEO method cards are to design thinking.

Problem Space
Questions. Programming as problem seeking. Search AND find. Code code: systems architecture and software development. Language code: sweet comms. Yesterdays solutions. Yesterday, all our troubles…

Solution Space
Thirty characteristics of discovery. Goal achievement in a context of symmathesy. Symmathesy: systems thinking in a context of mutuality and learning. Mutuality because aliveness among entities in a place. Learning because aliveness in, with, between and outside the box turned place.

Five rules, guideliness, extendable with what algorithms and heuristics make sense and make meaning. Annotations furthers.

Map, Model & Theory
Feedback loops. Dynamic mapping. Second order cybernetics. Autopoiesis.

A large finite set pattern, pattern languages. Eg the 170k words, meaning-making units in the english language. And then some.

Emergent Path
Questions. Twenty qualities conducive to enacting, emerging and evolving paths, out of forces and building blocks.

If you read all the above carefully, you saw there’s subtle gamefulness hints, taking a playfulness approach to language itself.

UI: Language

UX: Conversation


“Technology is the active human interface with the material world.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin

Combining the above seven aspects of a pattern(ing) anatomy, it is possible to form patterns. Patterns in a pattern language. Ok, that’s the structure. Now for a first foray into process and reality.

“There was a child went forth…”
Walt Whitman

The particular process outlined in this post. All the seven characteristics of a well-formed pattern outlined above, applies here. When a select pattern is rendered in a playable format, eg a card, some of the seven characteristics are explicated, while others can be left implied. Think eg a tweet, where what is visible is part of something larger.

“Every entity is to be understood in terms of the way it is interwoven with the rest of the universe.”
— Alfred North Whitehead

Donald W. Sherburne:
“The concept of an actual entity is the central concept in Whitehead’s system. This system is atomistic — i.e., like Democritus, Whitehead conceives of the world as composed of a vast number of microcosmic entities.
But whereas Democritus is a materialist and views his atoms as inert bits of stuff, Whitehead presents an organic philosophy — each one of his atoms, termed “actual entities” or “actual occasions,” is an organism that grows, matures, and perishes.
The whole of Process and Reality is concerned with describing the characteristics of, and interrelationships between, actual entities.”

Donald W. Sherburne:
“The first three chapters will analyze actual entities in minute de­tail. When this analysis is completed the reader will know a great deal about how Whitehead describes the building blocks of the universe, but he will not yet have brought the system out of the realm of the microcosmic to confront his macrocosmic experience.
Chapters Four through Seven do just that — i.e., they take the categories systematically presented in the first three chapters and put them into juxtaposition with ordinary experience, traditional philosophical problems, modern science, and religious intuitions.
Chapters One through Three focus primarily upon the nature of the individual actual entity, which is a microcosmic entity; Chapters Four through Seven shift to the level of the macrocosmic, to an analysis of the aggregates of actual entities (termed “nexüs” and “societies”) that are the objects of ordinary experience.”

Those two quotes are all about understanding Alfred North Whitehead, understanding a bit more about process and reality. Understanding and dialogue, are two of the qualities of complex responsive processes.

Complex Responsive Processes
Thinks, gatherings and things.

A think is ongoing cognition: entities and environments, co-evolving.
A gathering is where a group of thinks are forming a larger (social cognition) whole.
A thing is something that stays more or less the same for the duration.

Flow: Intersects of structure and process
Combining structure and process, we get flow.

Flow is how we know. As in eg actionable insight, and, when further applied, knowledge that can be shared and put to good use. Flow.

Card: Learning
Learning is to 103% about
patterns of play, relationship,
interaction, structure-preserving
transformation and play^n.

Boundary Objects: Learning
Learning is to 103% about flow, structure and process, (re)discovered in the intersects of engagement and return on engagement, enabled by information, information seen and understood in a context of relational meaning-making.

Play^n in particular, almost invariably form social constructs, eg TIMN, Tribes, Institutions, Markets and Networks.

Each and every social construct, starts out as a scaffolding of flow. Over time, most social constructs turn rigid, which often becomes detrimental to the flow. Also, human evolution proceeds, which means too rigid social constructs eventually turn too brittle and fragile.

Societal reimagination (visionaries) and societal innovation (entrepreneurs) perform necessary, vital and essential roles, enabling human evolution amidst existing social constructs.


The core constraint is culture and how culture expresses itself through individual, small group genius and social collective intelligence.

Culture can here be seen and understood as the residual of participation, in a context of zeitgeist.

Societal reimagination, societal innovation, societal adoption and culture, all four are patterns of patterns, conducive to human evolution. The dynamic aspect of all four, on all levels and scales, is patterning.

flow = structure x process

“x” = patterning

One example patterning:

Learning in Landscapes of Practice: Boundaries, identity, and knowledgeability in practice-based learning
Etienne Wenger-Trayner; Mark Fenton-O’Creevy; Christopher Kubiak; Steven Hutchinson and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, eds. (2014).

If the body of knowledge of a profession is a living landscape of practice, then our personal experience of learning can be thought of as a journey through this landscape. Within Learning in Landscapes of Practice, this metaphor is further developed in order to start an important conversation about the nature of practice knowledge, identity and the experience of practitioners and their learning. In doing so, this book is a pioneering and timely exploration of the future of professional development and higher education.

The book combines a strong theoretical perspective grounded in social learning theories with stories from a broad range of contributors who occupy different locations in their own landscapes of practice. These narratives locate the book within different contemporary concerns such as social media, multi-agency, multi-disciplinary and multi-national partnerships, and the integration of academic study and workplace practice.

Both scholarly, in the sense that it builds on prior research to extend and locate the concept of landscapes of practice, and practical because of the way in which it draws on multiple voices from different landscapes. Learning in Landscapes of Practice will be of particular relevance to people concerned with the design of professional or vocational learning. It will also be a valuable resource for students engaged in higher education courses with work-based elements.

Translate landscapes to tribes, institutions, market and networks, for a great many other examples.

Corner of Examples & Use Cases
When in need of translating specific knowledge into another domain, patterns and pattern languages can be used. Large (as in eg the 60k words in the english language in common usage) finite pattern, pattern languages can also be used for different ways of scaling, different ways of achieving generative sequences, as in structure-preserving change.




Cards catalyzing stories, Conversations that mind and matter, Digital communities & immersive productions.

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John Kellden

Cards catalyzing stories, Conversations that mind and matter, Digital communities & immersive productions.