“Julian Bleecker and Nicolas Nova invert this common perspective on data-enabled experiences and speculate on the existence of an “asynchronous” city, a place where the database, the wireless signal, the rfid tag, and the geospatial datum are not necessarily the guiding principles of the urban computing dream” It’s about time someone challenged what is becoming ubicomp dogma. Knowing Julian and Nicolas, this will be chewy brainfood.
“This book presents a family of social web design principles and interaction patterns that we have observed and codified, thus capturing user-experience best practices and emerging social web customs for web 2.0 practitioners.” Slightly sceptical, but who knows, this might be good.
On demand printing and board games. Why didn’t I see this coming? Via Tom.
4 thoughts on “links for 2009-07-27”
we welcome skepticism (re the social patterns project). credulity is boring!
challenge us! is the whole idea b.s.? did we structure it poorly? are the patterns lame, obvious, useless, tired, wrongheaded, limited, smelly?
Hi Christian. I hadn’t expected you to drop by and comment here, that’s cool! To be honest, I’m mostly sceptical about the usefulness of a pattern collection in general. I know it’s a bit of a downer to say this. For sure, the work you and Erin have done looks solid and thorough. But what I find lacking is the relationships between the patterns, this is what makes Alexander’s book so great — his patterns apply to different orders of magnitude of building and encapsulate each other. Also (even though you define a pattern as something that applies to a specific context) all patterns in your collection seem to be good to include in any and all projects, but we all know that’s neither feasible nor desirable. I hope I’ve explained my reservations clearly. Regardless of these, I wish you best of luck with wrapping up the book. I’ll be sure to have a look once it’s on the shelves.
Hey, Kars. I think you are raising interesting and valid points. If you don’t mind me turning you blog post into a mini-discussion thread, I’d like to address them here (to the best of my ability):
I am too! That is to say I do believe they have some usefulness but I also believe they can be easily misused and “in the wrong hands” could do more harm than good. There are some larger contexts that benefit more from a pattern approach than others might. (For example, at Yahoo! we have this sprawling suite of properties and a need to unify them in terms of UI consistency and quality without imposing a strict pixel-for-pixel brand identity on each product, the way a different type of company might be able to do.
Yes, I agree, insofar as the Alexander language has a more thoroughly developed “language” coherence than almost anything similar in the comp.sci or HCI world. To be fair, (“real”) architecture has had a several-thousand-year head start! Anything called a pattern in the UI space is at best a first sketch, and there is a tendency for them to be ephemeral and widgety. I believe UI patterns would benefit from deeper thinking about the underlying forces and from aggressive re-working as times change to clarify what is essential and what is fashion.
Having said that, you have to start somewhere.
Indeed. This perception you describe worries me a great deal. Erin and I did a workshop/presentation around the collection of patterns at the Web 2.0 Expo in SF earlier this year and at least one person in the audience came away with the impression that we were advocating the application of every single one of these patterns to any social product, which is absolutely not what we believe.
The fact that our work can lead people to think it is an exhaustive mandatory checklist is something we have to work on, in terms of the actual content and how we discuss it.
Now, to be fair, our patterns each have a “Use When” section that will vary in narrowness or breadth depending on the pattern. If you have any ideas how to better reinforce the fact that only some patterns are recommended in a given scenario, I’d love to hear it!
Thank you and yes, your reservations are quite reasonable and well explained and I do appreciate the time you’ve taken to articulate. As with the point above, there can be a sort of “false authority” that can come from any large detailed body of work and while I do strongly believe in the value of the project, the last thing I want is for people to accept it all at face value without questioning and challenging it.
If our only accomplishment here was to help people wrap their arms around the current thinking in social design and begin a conversation starting from our suggested organization, if only as a straw model, then I will be proud of it.
Whew, I am waxing prolix here and I risk abusing your hospitality, so I’ll leave it there, but thanks again for your attention!
I’m a bit late, but let me address a few of your points here:
I can certainly understand the usefulnes of a pattern library to a company like Yahoo!
So do I. I’m not clear on how to go about this though. For one thing, the community that would be re-working these patterns would need a common understanding of these forces that goes beyond what most of us understand today. I think Alexander’s patterns are so powerful and seem so cohesive not because of architecture’s long history (to be sure there are many different ways to think about architecture and a lot of those contradict Alexander’s ideas) but because he has a very deep and clear set of valuables that guide the formulation of the patterns.
I find it worrying as well that people would take a pattern library and think it’s a mandatory checklist. Perhaps the reason for this has less to do with the character of your work specifically, but is due more to the fact that there is a general lack of understanding of what a pattern is supposed to mean. The word has been used in so many different ways recently, that one can argue it has become almost meaningless.
No worries, I’m glad you’ve taken the trouble to share these thoughts here. Sorry about the late reply and again, best of luck with the book.
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