Shut Up! No, *You** Shut Up
March 10, 2006 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Shut Up! No, *You** Shut Up At ETech, Clay Shirky covered patterns of community moderation during "Shut Up! No, *You* Shut Up." Notes were taken.
posted by k8t (13 comments total)
Interesting, if somewhat lacking in detail. But I remain unclear on what's meant by "pattern language" in this context.
posted by lodurr at 10:39 AM on March 10, 2006

Cool talk. Good Post.
posted by chunking express at 10:39 AM on March 10, 2006

unclear on what's meant by "pattern language"

Me, too. I've heard it mentioned in many different disciplines and I'm wondering if it is something new or something renamed.
posted by ao4047 at 10:47 AM on March 10, 2006

Nifty post. Still reading.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:54 AM on March 10, 2006

I don't remember where I came across this, but I've had the related wiki sitting in my tabs waiting to be read for a few days now.
posted by scottreynen at 10:56 AM on March 10, 2006

The Wiki is really interesting.

lodurr and ao4047, people use the term design patterns to describe a general problem that occurs commonly in a particular domain, and the general solutions to such a problem. I think the linked Wiki makes the ideas more clear actually.
posted by chunking express at 11:05 AM on March 10, 2006

Actually, chunking express, if that's what's meant by "pattern language" in architecture and interaction design, then I guess I think it's basically a misleadingly useless term. I thought it meant something more than just being a reference to design patterns.

If that's all it is, then I fail to see why "design patterns" isn't both more accurate and more descriptive. "Pattern language" strikes me as an attempt to mystify the discussion as a way of gaining status.

Or, put more succinctly: It's not a language, dammit.
posted by lodurr at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2006

Design patterns are "words" that make up a design language.

The individual patterns are, um, patterns. Then above it is some (more abstract, and probably much harder to pin down) "syntax" whereby the patterns can be combined into coherent wholes. The whole in this case will be an entire social software website. The whole in an architectural pattern language is a building.

The first step in building the language is defining the atoms. There has to be agreement on the scale (size, scale, scope, something) of each pattern. "slashdot" is not a pattern. "reader and meta-reviewer moderation" might be. "textbox for input" is probably too small a pattern...
posted by zpousman at 12:43 PM on March 10, 2006

I guess I can buy the larger concept. But this strikes me as the kind of idea that will very easily get repurposed as bullshit. And I have a really hard time believing that anyone has advanced such an idea to the point where the term "language" would be applicable in anything but a metaphorical sense.
posted by lodurr at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2006

I think even as a metaphor it's a useful term. This is the first attempt at codifying the epiphenomena involved in guiding online discussion. When you're staking out any new territory of intellectual persuit, of necessity you have to either coin new language or coopt existing terms to describe the landscape. It remains to be seen how good a job they do, but I'm comfortable with their using the word 'language' to describe it.
posted by scalefree at 3:22 PM on March 10, 2006

Excellent post.
posted by bru at 10:45 PM on March 10, 2006

If Shirky honestly is attempting to sketching out the principles of online social interaction, he would do well to distinguish the problems which are unique to the online world from those that have real-world analogues. The former (e.g. Sockpuppets) are fresh territory whereas the latter have been remarked upon, dissected and discussed throughout history (e.g. LoudestWins, EchoChamber)

That is, much of online society is the importation (transformation?) of much of what drives us in general - status seeking, knowledge seeking, quenching a thirst for social interaction - and another part if how we offline beings end up either exploiting or complaining about the sometimes artificial constructs of the online medium.

For example, in an online discussion, every "speaker" is speaking to and is heard by everyone else. This has few real-world analogues except maybe a large conference where the microphone is passed around. And so we lose the chance to have our whispered asides - "Psst. Hey, you standing over there...whats going on here? That guy seems like a jerk..." Instead we can only communicate to the group by asking for the big microphone. Thats just one example. It just seems prudent to explore the constraints that define the online medium before exploring how participants then react to those constraints.
posted by vacapinta at 12:07 AM on March 11, 2006

unclear on what's meant by "pattern language"

Me, too. I've heard it mentioned in many different disciplines and I'm wondering if it is something new or something renamed.

The concept of pattern languages is old of course, but the name "pattern language" was proposed by the architect Christopher Alexander as a way for people to design living spaces according to concepts of harmony with the environment, harmony with neighbors, wise use of space and materials. The first books in the series were published by Oxford sometime in the late 70s or early 80s.

A Pattern Language

The Timeless Way of Building

In the 90s, silicon valley programmers in the ACM invited Alexander to speak at their association's congress, where he presented a generative theory of architecture from a programmer's point of view. I believe that this talk at the San Jose ACM was the beginning of programmers officially adopting Alexanders terms for the way patterns operate in computing.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:13 AM on March 11, 2006

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