Advice to Pattern Authors

Thank you for your interest in contributing! As you will have already determined, the orientation for this symposium breaks somewhat with the tradition of academic conferences. While developing a pattern may require a slight change in perspective, we firmly believe that it will be worth the effort. We also believe that the pattern orientation may seem more complicated than it really is. If you think you have something to contribute then you probably do.

Please consult this page and other symposium pages at your earliest convenience so that you can prepare a pattern (or patterns) that meets your standards. Please also contact Doug Schuler, DIAC-02 coordinator (, Steve Berczuk ( or members of the program committee with any questions you may have.

For the previous symposium (DIAC-00) we solicited abstracts from potential contributors. The program committee then selected 40 abstracts for presentation at the conference. The authors of the abstracts then developed full papers which were presented at the symposium.

We are following a similar approach for DIAC-02 but with two exceptions. The first exception is that we're soliciting "patterns" instead of abstracts. (A "pattern" is a solution or suggestion for remedying an identified problem in a given context. The information contained in a pattern is similar to that in an abstract or full paper but it is structured differently in order to help us integrate the set of patterns into a coherent "pattern language." See "About Patterns" for more information about patterns. You may also want to consult the help page that describes every attribute you'll need to add to describe your pattern.

The second exception is that anyone, not just those hoping to present at DIAC-02, can submit a pattern. Furthermore, we are encouraging contributors to devleop and submit more than one pattern. We are also planning to work with the larger set of patterns after the symposium to develop a compelling and coherent knowledge structure that will stand as an important resource and inspiration for additional research and activism.

The "pattern" focus that we have in mind is modeled on the concept developed by Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at University of California at Berkeley (Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S., and Silverstein, M. et al (1977). A Pattern Language. New York, NY: Oxford University Press). The "pattern" is a template or some type of crystallized or distilled knowledge in some area and a set of patterns collectively are used to form a "language." According to the authors, "Each pattern describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment , and then describes the core of our solution to the problem." In Alexander's case, these patterns were used to depict successful examples of buildings and settlements. In our case we'll use them for the design, development and use of human-centered and progressive information and communication systems.

A pattern can be a hypothesis, a finding, a "best practice", a recommendation. Indeed it is any observable or hypothetical template that will help people in the field -- researchers, practitioners, journalists, policy-makers, artists, citizens.

We have developed a special "Pattern Submisssion System" for people to use when contributing or editing their patterns. There is also a help system that explains all the entries. Basically you will enter information about the pattern into a form. This form, in turn, will help produce a uniformly formatted pattern. It also enters all the information into a database. This will be useful when we integrate the patterns into a larger "pattern language."

We are encouraging contributors to work with the system at their earliest convenience to gain familiarity with it. Remember -- your patterns can be easily edited until December 1, 2001 when the reviewing process begins. We are also encouraging contributors to develop and submit more than one pattern. It's extremely unlikely that you'll be called on to develop more than one paper, but we are looking for enough patterns that a "pattern language" of appropriate size can be constructed.

All of us have are embarked on our own journeys to identify and refine the "patterns" that we use to think and work purposefully and effectively. We hope that this symposium and the work that all of us have embraced will help us all by sharing those useful patterns.

The Internet -- and the broader information and communication infrastructure of which the Internet is just one part -- is rapidly evolving. The work that we undertake now can have a lasting influence; it can help determine whether the Internet is a useful community and civic tool, or whether it becomes just another "vast wasteland."


Updated September 27, 2001