Social Poetry


We are building a Living Language , understanding that it must support the Poetry of the Language ; but this poetry cannot be 'written' by individuals.


Pattern Languages that are not built and developed in a life-like way by diverse social groups will not come alive.

The meaning and purpose of Pattern Languages is to do something novel - build formalised and synergistic models of complex human environments - not primarily for analysis or design purposes, but for their ability to present these complex systems in ways amenable to human cognition and conscious interaction - so that the languages can be used - will be used, because, and only because, they are useful - because they enable people to live better with the complex systems in which they are embedded.

Pattern languages, even more than natural languages, are social languages - made to enable, support and foster collaboration in and around complex systems. Complex systems are not weird, 'specialist' conditions, found in a few specific aspects of the world. They are the norm. The Enlightenment was about carving out simple spaces from the all-encompassing complexity that is human society, that is the biosphere, that is the deep quality of reality. The simple spaces allowed us to use the rationalising, conscious part of our brains to make sense of the simple models there presented, and to gain some insights into the forces that shape the world.

The 'success' of the Enlightenment project over the past few centuries has shaped our culture to look for and attempt to live within these simple spaces. But this re-shaping is a distortion, a misrepresentation of the structure of reality, at a deep level, in that our work to build a human world in accordance with this understanding is destroying the capacity of the biosphere to support civilisation.

To escape from this trap, we need to develop the cultural capacity to live well with complexity - rather than looking, as we tend to, for brute ways in which to reduce the complexity, we need to look for smart ways in which to engage with it.

We need to do this as a culture, and, to the extent that Pattern Language can be a tool for doing this, it must be through adoption by social groups - of all kinds - institutions, communities, political discourse, scientific culture.

The character and qualities of such environments are manifold, and can only be modelled by models which are capable of equivalent variety. They must exhibit deep sensitivity and responsiveness to the unique character of context.

Simply, attempts to 'author' such models by individuals or small, hermetic groups cannot achieve this condition.

Of course, it is (must be) possible for such efforts to be the seed of a Pattern Language, but it will not make sense for such groups to go much further without considering seriously how the Language might become more life-like - more dynamic, more engaged, more responsive.


Consider the building of a Pattern Language on the same basis as you would some large scale cultural renewal project. Structure it so as to mobilise the constructive engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in the domain on a continuing, life-like basis.


Consider what characteristics will encourage the development and engagement of social groups of Language Gardeners. Pay attention to the Hierarchy of Scope of the Language - understand that different communities will relate at different scales - over time and across space.