Structured Hypertexts

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)

Although there is a vast amount of civil society development and use of communication systems worldwide for social and environmental amelioration the efforts are not as coherent and effective as they could be. The efforts are scattered in terms of research, social networks, resources, activism, and agenda building.


There is an exploding investment and use of ICT worldwide. Unfortunately, as with other media systems, this growth is mostly commercial. Meanwhile NGO growh is also expanding rapidly as are problems facing humankind.


Is it possible to develop a shared, coherent, complex, useful "knowledge bases" that represents a broad intelligent overview of our collective knowledge and worldview? Is it possible to develop knowledge bases in a participatory way that includes (and integrates) viewpoints and ideas from people from all over the world?

We postulate that "pattern language" is one viable candidate to address this need -- and there are others! A pattern language is a complex "mid-level" theory developed by Christopher Alexander and his associates at the University of California at Berkeley. A pattern language consists of interrelated and integrated patterns, themselves a semi-structured record of information. Patterns -- and this is one of them -- have four main constituents: name, problem, context, and discussion.

We further postulate that the web and some underlying processing power can help us more readily constuct the pattern language. The intake system (which is allowing me to enter this pattern proposal now) is the initial system within the broader Pattern Management System. The other sub-systems include the review system, integration system (which supports the development of the language), presentation, and classification sub-systems.

Issues: evolution of the pattern language. Use of pattern language.
more details about coding categories, themes, etc.

A related pattern is Networked and Nested Knowledges.

The descriptive graphic is from Christopher Alexander et al's work. It shows a "semi-lattice" of related patterns that can be used together to solve a problem in the architectural realm.

Notes: Patterns and pattern languages are one approach to "structured hypertexts", includes objects and links within; What's the "natural size" (of a pattern language or other structured hypertext)? -- why is the particular pattern / design special?


The participatory development of a "pattern language" (accessible via the web and in print) can help describe collective work and motivate and focus people from all over the world into working together in a single enterprise.

Pattern status: