October 20, 2001 7:55 AM   Subscribe

A WEBSITE DEVOTED TO REBUILDING THE EARTH. Christopher Alexander is about to publish the long awaited The Nature of Order. At the OOPSLA 1996 conference he proposed "a view of programming as the natural genetic infrastructure of a living world"and asked the help of the software community to take over the profession of architecture and to generate tools that would enable us once again to create a living built environment. The patternlanguage.com site has not been the genesis bomb I was hoping it would be but it's early days yet.
posted by worldsystema (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Translated to Eng, the Aghans are saying, "And what if we made peace?"
This was on the cover of LeMonde.fr they couldn't have put it much better. This reflects the reality more than anything.
posted by HoldenCaulfield at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2001

Worst website ever.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 8:46 AM on October 20, 2001

Is this a parody? I can't believe that Christopher Alexander, beloved of information architects everywhere, could produce--if he has a lick of common sense--a site this bad. Edward Tufte hasn't seemed to think much of the web, but at least his site makes sense.
posted by benghoil at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2001

I've been playing with ideas of a small footprint house. The information on the site is good, but the presentation is so bad that I would really have to be set on just that design concept to have to need to dig it out of the over blown navigation system.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2001

This isn't a parody. While Alexander is an interesting architectural theorist, he apparently doesn't know his ass from a website.

Or something.
posted by bshort at 10:06 AM on October 20, 2001

Yep. The domain is registered to the Center for Environmental Structure in Berkeley, CA. Damn, I'm not saying I'm smart or nuthin', but I learned HTML in a weekend using online tutorials, and even *I* could build a better site than that.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2001

It really is the worst site ever. On the other hand, if you talk to people who know Alexander you'd find that it is perfectly reflective of his personality.

Is The Nature of Order really going to come out this time? I can't wait.

For those of you that are interested in Alexander's work, you might also be interested in cohousing, which has some similarities but is trying to build communities on a more modest, practical scale. I'm about halfway through the planning of a cohousing community (we have land, drawings and are in the middle of the permitting process right now, and break ground in the spring), and it's been exciting to put my years of thinking about Alexander's work into practice--and discovering what elements of it just won't work for us.
posted by rodii at 10:22 AM on October 20, 2001

There is a New York Times article in which he says "Design is not my thing" but surely his friends in the biz could have told him in private and offered to help.

I have to confess I actually did learn html because I wanted to help this work.
posted by worldsystema at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2001

'... I refer to the computer that shall come aftet me -- and it shall be called THE EARTH!'
'Oh -- what a dull name...'
posted by feelinglistless at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2001

This website is the reason Opera has the "toggle between document mode and user mode" button.
posted by signal at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2001

maybe he should get together with earthship.org :)

and speaking of generative processes...

new bay bridge design?
posted by kliuless at 12:04 PM on October 20, 2001

. . . asked the help of the software community to take over the profession of architecture

Yes, I really want to spend an hour on hold waiting for tech support to explain why my doors have all frozen, or why my staircase suddenly goes in one direction only.
posted by lileks at 12:36 PM on October 20, 2001

> Is The Nature of Order really going to come out this time? I can't wait.

Who knows? Amazon lists its release date as December 2001 (it was listed as October until a month or so ago) and so does its page on the OUP site (which didn't list any date the last time I checked), so there are some good pointers to "real soon", but it has been in real soon mode for a few years now. (As an aside, $300 is a lot for what is essentially one very long book.)

I was lucky enought to get one of the manuscript copies (1994, two volumes) that have been floating around for a while (given to me by a planner friend) and I have to say that it is great -- as a work of speculative philosophy in a field that I happen to be particularly interested in (metaphysics + biology). But it is seriously niche stuff and I can't imagine it having the popular appeal of APL or TWB. I've never read it that closely since it is fairly rough and I'm anticipating reading the final version anyway, and 7 (+?) years is a long time for reconsiderations, so why spend too much time on the draft?
posted by sylloge at 5:12 PM on October 20, 2001

KInd of a tangent, but two books by former collaborators of Alexander's are really worth reading if you're interested in actual built architecture (as opposed to patterns, aesthetics, cities or metaphysics): The Culture of Buidling, by Howard Davis, who was a co-author of The Oregon Experiment, and The Good House, by Max Jacobson and Murray Silverstein, who were co-authors on APL. Both excellent, thoughtful books, without the wooliness of Alexander's works.
posted by rodii at 6:49 PM on October 20, 2001

The site is pretty bad. They don't even do anything when you point out their spelling mistakes. :)

This is an "early days" site and a work that will always be engaged in design, construction and repair. So part of it is my fault because all I've done is complain and try and buy a book.

There is an interesting information research proposal hidden in the site that deserves more publicity perhaps.

A Pattern Language was the first book written in hypertext but a hard copy still costs around £50! The niche for $300 books is how big? The Nature of Order is definitely out any minute but no progress report is available on the site even to members who have paid their p&p charges.

"Form is both deeply material and highly spiritual. It cannot exist without a material support; it cannot be properly expressed without invoking some supra-material principle. Form poses a problem which appeals to the utmost resources of our intelligence, and it affords the means which charm our sensibility and even entice us to the verge of frenzy. Form is never trivial or indifferent; it is the magic of the world." Lancelot Law Whyte Aspects of form.

There must be so many people who want to build their own house, and a home for humanity and this work will guide us in producing HEAVEN ON EARTH (0)

Bring on the Genesis Bomb!
posted by worldsystema at 10:21 PM on October 20, 2001

I bet you meant: information research proposal. (God is he sounding more and more flaky...)

(the moral? always use cut 'n' paste for URLs)
posted by sylloge at 10:37 PM on October 20, 2001

I just made a mistake but I must admit to having developed a dislike of ZachsMind which comes across as a personality type on mefi occasionally. Like being invaded by cam girls.
posted by worldsystema at 5:52 AM on November 28, 2001

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