engagement

Strategic Frame

Pattern ID: 
408
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
86
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The complexity of the world and multiplicity of perspectives can often stymie people’s attempts to interpret it in ways that make sense and that suggest meaningful action. People often can't see the connection between their own thinking and the situation they wish to address. Groups seeking to work together in some broad arena may not identify a common basis for doing so effectively. Sometimes groups can't even agree on what they'd like to accomplish much less how to go about accomplishing it. At other times their efforts may not resonate with the people and organizations they are trying to influence. A similar problem arises when people reactively base their interpretation on some prior and frequently unconscious bias or stereotype. In all of these cases, a poor understanding of strategic frames hinders their ability to make progress.

Context: 

This pattern can be used whenever people and groups need to interpret complex information or develop approaches to communicating with other groups or the public.

Discussion: 

The concept of frames was initially developed by anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1972) and was further popularized by Erving Goffman (1974). More recently, based on the work of Berkeley linguist George Lakoff, framing has taken a prominent position in progressive political discourse (2004). On a general level, a frame is a story distilled to its basic elements. It could be related to a loving family, a protective father, fairness, fatalism, laziness, freedom, the local sports team, nostalgic for the past, or fear of the unknown — the possibilities are limitless.

People all over the world are confronted with events and information that they find overwhelming. Without "frames" people quite literally wouldn't know how to interpret the world. A frame provides a link between information and data and the way that the information and data is interpreted. Seen this way, frames of one sort or another are necessary for every aspect of daily life. Human brains don't have the processing power to interpret each new situation "from scratch." Recognizing the ubiquity of frames and the fact that multiple frames can be employed by different people for different reasons to describe the same story or event has lead to a strong interest in frames.

When frames are acknowledged as independent entities, people who are interested in persuasion can begin asking such questions as: What frames do people use? How do frames work? How are they initially constructed or modified? What is the outcome when two or more frames compete?

Why does a frame work? It suggests action and shapes interpretation. When frames are shared with people or organizations they promote group action and similar interpretations — while acting to discourage disputes and incompatible interpretation. This discussion leads to types of frames, how they are formed, and how they are reshaped. Strategic frames work in two directions — they can channel action but can also constrict thought.

The framing lens can be turned around and focused on the elites and the powers-that-be as well. Mass media systems are an important subject of this. What frames are generally employed by, for example, local television news stations. A “strategic communication terms” web sites (cite) cites an example from Charlotte Ryan’s Prime Time Activism (1991) of three ways in which a news story of a child in a low-income neighborhood getting bit by a rat can be covered. Who, for example, should be blamed for this — if anybody? Is the child’s mother the culprit or should the apartment manger be held responsible or, even, society at large?

A strategic frame is a specific type of frame that has been developed as an important element within an overall strategy to encourage people to see things in a certain way. In this sense, the concept is neutral. In fact Susan Niall Bales stated that her approach to “Strategic Frame Analysis” could be used to promote tobacco use, but added that she probably wouldn’t.

When developed collaboratively, a strategic frame can also be a useful tool for groups. When people respond without reflection to an externally imposed strategic frame, they are being exploited. Different frames can be constructed for any given story, message or event. How well those frames resonate with people and what they choose to do with the ideas contained within the frame is of interest to people who are trying to influence other people. Opposing forces will employ different frames with different people to win the particular battle they’re engaged with. This is reflected in the title of a recent New York Times article entitled, “Framing Wars” (Bai, 2005)Unfortunately many strategic frames that are available to the public serve to reinforce existing stereotypes, thus preventing people from developing effective agendas for the future.

Solution: 

It is important to note that frames don’t really do the work by themselves. In addition to the important task of understanding frames that influence our actions and behavior, activists are interested in specific types of frames which have specific functions of interest, such as frames that help build coalitions; provide useful interpretations; “frame transformation” (Tarrow)] These frames must connect. In other words, the new frames must not reach too far beyond the capability of people to grasp and shape them.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

The complexity of the world with its multiplicity of perspectives can confuse our attempts to interpret it. A Strategic Frame is a word, phrase, or slogan that encourages people to see things in a certain light. When developed collaboratively, a Strategic Frame can also be a useful tool for groups. In addition to understanding frames that influence thoughts and actions, activists are interested in frames that help build coalitions or otherwise motivate useful mobilizations.

Pattern status: 
Released

Civic Capabilities

Pattern ID: 
756
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
85
Justin Smith
The Public Sphere Project & St. Mary's University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Peoples can often find the path to social and economic empowerment blocked to them due to any number of circumstances whether they be lack of literacy and information, limited access to health care, a low-level of durable assets, political marginalization and so forth.

Context: 

From the grassroots level up towards the international sphere peoples are seeking ways to encourage and develop capability of both individuals as well as communities to actively engage in creating the life they desire to live through promoting access to health, higher literacy and ability to collectively engage in public political action.

Discussion: 

Taken from the work of Amartya Sen and his thesis on capabilities or substantial freedoms it is asserted that the, “expansion of basic human capabilities, including such freedoms as the ability to live long, read and write, to escape preventable illnesses, to work outside the family irrespective of gender, and to participate in collaborative as well as adversarial politics, not only influence the quality of life that the people can enjoy, but also effect the real opportunities they have to participate in economic expansion.” (Sen, and Dreze, 1999)

In essence such a statement highlights both the ends we seek to achieve in the process of development and similarly the path by which we achieve that end. If people do not have access to health how will they be able to rightfully participate in society or of the civic life of their geographical community? Also, if they can not participate, how is that they are to ensure that they will encourage and generate a level of action necessary for developing the access to health they need?

In taking a closer look at Amartya Sen's and Jean Dreze's statement above Jan Garret believes that there are important freedoms that have an instrumental role in making positive [substantial] freedom possible.

  • Political freedoms-- "the opportunities that people have to determine who should govern and on what principles, and also include the possibility to scrutinize and criticize authorities, to have freedom of political expression and an uncensored press, to enjoy the freedom to choose between different political parties, and so on. They include . . . opportunities of political dialogue, dissent and critique as well as voting rights and participatory selection of legislators and executives."
  • Economic facilities— "the opportunities that individuals . . . enjoy to utilize economic resources for the purpose of consumption, or production, or exchange." The quantity of income as well as how it is distributed is important. Availability and access to finance are also crucial. (Not being able to get credit can be economically devastating.) (See: Micro-Finance, Coopertive Micro-Enterprise or Durable Assets)
  • Social opportunities--arrangements society makes for education, health care, etc.
  • Transparency guarantees--these relate to the need for openness that people can anticipate; the freedom to deal with one another with a justified expectation of disclosure and clarity. These guarantees play a clear role in preventing corruption, financial irresponsibility, and violation of society's rules of conduct for government and business.
  • Protective security--a social safety net that prevents sections of the population from being reduced to abject misery. Sen refers to "fixed institutional arrangements such as unemployment benefits and statutory income supplements to the indigent as well as ad hoc (temporary) arrangements such as famine relief or emergency public employment to generate income for destitutes."

As a pattern of development the idea behind Engaging Capabilities can exist as both an approach as well as map for distinct and concrete implementation of development projects and empowerment campaigns whether they be economic, political, health and gender-centric or an integrated collection of all of the above. In regards to the term engaging it is meant to refer to the normative stance that these are fundamental aspects of enabling individuals to lead lives worth living.

It is a call to both peoples who are blocked from realizing these capabilities in their day to lives to engage and work to actualize these in their lived experience, similarly it is a call to those social activist, community animators, government and international organizations working to help better their society to pursue not only the economic betterment of peoples, but to address the more holistic reality that makes up a persons lived experience.

While Sen's work has placed much emphasis upon the individual, capabilities also naturally points to the civic or community sphere in which groups of participants are able to engage in the process of not only achieving such substantial freedoms but also collectively enjoying and exercising such freedoms.

While much development may in an indirect way encourage the creation or realization of such freedoms; the purpose of engaging these capabilities as a pattern is meant to emphasise awareness of such fundamental freedoms and promote their centraility to a consiusly constructed pattern language that seeks to empower individuals and communities at all levels of society.

This means identifying and pursuing direct interaction with local, as well as national-level officials to engage in cooperative and advesarial politics. Ideally bringing about accountability, or achieve steps towards a responsiveness from of government. Affiliation with regional and transnational advocacy groups can assist accessing leverage for marginalized groups. Through engagement and a direction towards freedoms and capabilities peoples can prioritize their political battles that pressure government to pursue policies that actually equate to results in education, health and economic opportunity for those who lack these building blocks.

Solution: 

Ultimately, the idea of engaging capabilities is a critical component to almost any pattern language we might wish to construct. Therefore, when constructing a pattern language that is meant to address development in anyway it is necessary to consider the ways in which these projects will utilize the individual as well as collective capabilities of a community (and associated development partners) and how they will be utilized to support and encourage the further realization of these freedoms in peoples lives.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Illiteracy, lack of information, poverty, and political marginalization can block social and economic empowerment. To overcome this we must encourage and develop the Civic Capabilities of individuals and communities to actively create the lives they hope to live. Direct interaction with officials, engagement in cooperative and adversarial politics, and affiliation with other advocacy groups can bring about accountability and increased governmental responsiveness.

Pattern status: 
Released

Wholesome Design for Wicked Problems

Pattern ID: 
809
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
82
Rob Knapp
Evergreen State College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

One often regards difficulties or issues as problems to be solved, but one must beware the implication that the first step is to define the problem, and the next is to find one or more solutions to it. The significant issues and difficulties in the world do not sit still for this orderly strategy: every attempt to define these problems changes them, and so does each step in any attempted solution. Moreover, there are no sound rules to tell when a solution to such a problem is complete, nor any ways to test it off-line.

Context: 

This pattern addresses the mindset one brings to a problem; it may be especially useful for people weighed down by the complexities of the problem they confront, and by the accumulation of previous failed solutions that complex problems tend to accumulate about themselves.

Discussion: 

The system theorist Horst Rittel coined the term "wicked problem" in the early 1970's as a corrective to the rationalist approach to planning and design of large-scale systems. The late 1960's and early 1970's were a heyday for rationalist planning, which can be summarized as the process of fully and explicitly laying out goals, assumptions, and constraints of a problem situation, generating and evaluating alternative solutions, and expecting that the preferred solution will emerge clearly, backed by good reasons. This approach grew, among other things, from the rise of digital computation, the activist Federal mood of the 1960's, and the prospect of bypassing bitter political struggles over such things as urban extensions of the Interstate highway system. Among its applications were low-cost public housing projects, flood control initiatives, moon missions, and Vietnam war strategy. The hope was that objective, data-driven analytical approaches would provide a broadly applicable toolkit for solving large-scale social and environmental problems.

Rittel saw that this hope was doomed, because the problem situations in view could not be defined in agreed, unchanging ways. These problems are intrinsically ill-defined, and attempts to define them are already actions which reshape the problem and commit the analyst to a course of problem-solving which omits legitimate alternatives —and there is no way of escaping this. An extreme example is the Israel-Palestine question: a storm of protest and counter-protest greets every attempt to say what "the question" is, much less propose answers. But much milder situations exhibit wickedness. Consider low-cost housing, middle-school math curriculum, or the length of the salmon-fishing season. Indeed, every building project and most social action, down to the smallest scale, has elements of wickedness. In each case, the interests in play, the intangibility of key values, and the elusiveness of key information mean that a commonly agreed base for problem solving is not objectively available.

There are, however, ways forward. The first is to shift the goal of action on significant problems from "solution" to "intervention." Instead of seeking just the right moves to eliminate a problem once and for all, one should recognize that any actions occur in an ongoing process, in which further actions will be needed later on. This is not to accept injustice or suffering quietly. If there are ways to eliminate smallpox as a public health problem, and the vaccination campaigns of the 1970's proved there were, one should pursue them by all means. But one should realize that smallpox will remain a part of the global health situation in some way. (And so it has, most recently as a potential bioterror weapon.) The intervention mentality recognizes that situations tend to continue, even if their form changes radically.

There is a natural fit between the wicked-problem mentality and the DESIGN STANCE (see the pattern of that name). While design has often aimed at closed, once-and-for-all solutions, the multi-factor, iterative, imagination-based process of generating designs is very congenial to what is needed for intervening in wicked problems. Design naturally generates multiple possibilities before settling on one proposal; design naturally engages in a sort of dialogue with the problem situation, in which drawings or other representations of the design idea reveal consequences or relationships which call for changes in the design idea, and vice versa. The precise definition of the problem evolves alongside the ideas for interventions until they converge on action.

A second way to work with the wickedness of significant problems is to admit the significant actors to the design process. A typical wicked problem is shaped and reshaped by multiple actors whose influence cannot be closed out. The long maneuvering over the reconstruction of Ground Zero in New York City is a classic example. Both the rationalist tradition in architecture, engineering, public policy, and most other fields and what could be called the now-we-need-a-genius tradition in those same fields have relied on an expert (or sometimes a team of experts) generating a solution in isolation. But the multiple actors in wicked problems can not only obstruct such a solution, they can change the problem’s definition while the solution is being generated.

A third step is to design "loose-fit" actions. Instead of tailoring an intervention tightly to the understood conditions of a problem, for example choosing sealed windows and central air conditioning for an office building, one should allow for uses, costs, and regulations to change in unforeseen ways, for example drastic escalation in energy costs. Architecture is one area where one can now see that the rationalist, optimizing mood of the 1970's (and after) has saddled businesses and communities with rapidly obsolescing buildings of many kinds, but the need for loose-fit designs or plans occurs in any area with wicked problems.

A powerful example of successful handling of a wicked problem is passive solar design of buildings. The problem area emerged from the oil crises of the 1970’s, as activists’ strong desires to make use of solar energy as a renewable, free alternative to oil encountered technical difficulties such as low efficiency and daily and seasonal variability, economic challenges such as high first cost and low availability of experienced suppliers, and political/cultural resistances including vested interests, suspicion of unfamiliar technologies, and opposition to ideas perceived as counter-cultural. This mix of difficulties and disparate actors is typically wicked.

Slowly, over two decades, the problem and goals shifted (e.g. from replacing oil heat to reducing the need for it), experimentation revealed unforeseen directions of development (e.g. building orientation and control of overheating became more critical than total window area), knowledge from traditional practices as well as from engineering measurement began to accumulate, and designers found more and more ways to blend solar performance with standard building functions. A growing consensus on good practice included building code officials and contractors, as well as solar enthusiasts and academics. Discovery, development, and a degree of controversy continue, but the U.S. is now at a point where passive solar guidelines are widely available and used, at times in such routine guise as to be invisible.

Solution: 

Address significant problems with a design mentality that expects them to be “wicked”, recognizes the kinds of wickedness at work, and understands the design process, from initiation to proposals, as an intervention in a flow of events, not a fixed change in a static scene. Admit the significant actors to the design process. Pursue "loose-fit" interventions which have good potential to adapt to unforeseen changes in needs or impacts.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

According to Horst Rittel "wicked problems" are resistant to the rationalist approach to planning and design of large-scale systems. There are, however, ways forward. The first is to shift the goal of action on significant problems from "solution" to "intervention." Instead of seeking the answer that totally eliminates a problem, one should recognize that actions occur in an ongoing process, and further actions will always be needed.

Pattern status: 
Released
Information about introductory graphic: 
Rob Knapp

Academic Technology Investments

Pattern ID: 
409
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
81
Sarah Stein
North Carolina State University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

New technologies have been making rapid inroads in higher education, and, in many ways, are changing methods of teaching, learning and research. Yet, strict segregation of academic disciplines, industrial-age concepts of technological ownership and control, and entrenched silos across institutions place limits on the kinds of innovation and extension of learning and research that computer-mediated communication networks can help facilitate.

Context: 

Institutions of higher education afford significant benefits to students and researchers within their walls as well as the broader public. At the same time, economic downturns have resulted in diminishing revenue streams for legislative support of higher education, and for-profit as well as international educational institutions offer increasing competition. Academic institutions need to explore the greater opportunities enabled by information technologies for inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional pedagogical and administrative partnerships, in order to revitalize their economic circumstances and re-establish their social relevance.

Discussion: 

Institutions of higher education play a critical role in the maintenance and advancement of a nation and a culture. They are also often mired in organizational fiefdoms and disciplinary rivalries arising from competition over scarce resources. In turn, opportunities for collaboration are neglected that can advance the education of students and the production of knowledge.

Information communication technologies (ICTs) enable faculty and students to interact with others in academies across the nation and around the world. Courses engaging other institutions are being taught through video conferencing and computer-based classrooms; groups activities for students using databases and computer-generated learning objects are revolutionizing large lecture courses in physics and other sciences; researchers are using high performance computing to conduct experiments with international colleagues, at the same time that the extra computing power is leveraged to make available to students at their desktops expensive software through virtual computing labs.

Yet, the rapid and continual development of ICTs leave administrative budgets and personnel at universities struggling to adapt to the constant rate of change. In an age of vastly distributed information networks that can speed data and news around the globe, transparency and accountability are still lacking at traditional universities and other academic institutions. Despite the proliferation of communication devices and channels, faculty, staff, and students too often feel that their needs and views go unheard. Though the complexity of technological advances make it impossible for any one person or group to know all that is needed to make the best implementation plans, for example, ICT investment decisions continue to be made without soliciting other viewpoints.

At the same time, academic communication systems such as email and electronic calendaring that have become inextricably interwoven with the day-to-day operations of universities are still being run by multiple units and departments who have developed a sense of distrust and distance from central operations. Educational institutions within the same region and state continue to run routine technology networks individually instead of investigating the significant cost-sharing possible through inter-institutional cooperation, and beliefs in the necessity of institutional branding outweigh the advantages to be found in inter-collegiate curricula and teaching.

Part of what hinders the realization of more of the collaborative advantages communication networks can offer is an administrative hierarchy that tends to favor corporate-style decision-making in the hopes of producing corporate-style efficiencies, especially in light of the huge costs and rapid change of educational technologies. Yet, Institutions of higher education are built on principles of peer-review of evidence, and communal sharing of knowledge. When the diverse constituencies of the academy—students, faculty, administrators, technical staff—are not consulted in top-down decisions, and have no forums in which to engage with each other, those foundational principles are discarded and progressive initiatives can be resisted and even sabotaged.

A Chronicle of Higher Education article titled "The Role of Colleges in an Era of Mistrust” lays out ten communication principles by which colleges can provide leadership and maintain good faith in the public eye. Reporting on a University of California controversy over the cancellation of an invited speaker by the university’s president without consulting faculty or students, the authors press for a process of communication that includes diverse perspectives: “When it is possible to make deliberations open and transparent, colleges must do so. When open-door meetings are not prudent or practical, colleges must be careful to ensure that all the affected parties have a place at the table. Just as important, they must emerge with a clear account not only of what was decided but of how that decision was reached.”

Multiplying communication channels do not necessarily yield greater communication. An inclusive environment that fosters transparency and accountability within all academic sectors can go a long way to eliciting the sense of mission and dedication that characterizes the motives of people in choosing to be part of an educational community. Collaborative learning opportunities, inter-institutional partnerships, and inter-disciplinary scholarship are all developments that are supported by ICTs; creating a climate of openness and engagement across the university enterprise will further their realization.

Solution: 

ICTs can facilitate the development of new models of teaching, learning and research that take advantage of inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations in higher education and contribute to the quality of an information society. Such developments can be hindered by the persistence of traditional top-down decision-making that excludes the voices of the wider academic community, and in turn perpetuates a climate of disciplinary rivalry and entrenched silos. The constructive realization of the network capacities of new communication technologies in higher education need to be guided by insights and perspectives from a diverse collective.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Segregation of disciplines and institutions hinder innovation, learning, and research in higher education. Institutions need to explore opportunities enabled by information and communication technologies for new partnerships. These incorporate interaction with others around the world via conferencing, learning objects, and high performance computing. Fostering transparency and accountability can encourage a dedicated sense of mission.

Pattern status: 
Released

Users' IT Quality Network

Pattern ID: 
591
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
80
Aake Walldius
CID/NADA/KTH
Yngve Sundblad
CID/NADA/KTH
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Competitive software suppliers need demanding customers who can articulate sophisticated user requirements for the software they use in their daily work. However, it takes people from different professions to articulate requirements that serve both the employees, the (co)owners, and the customers of tomorrow. If the contact between the end-users and the people who purchase their software is too loose, then the purchasing personnel only get their information from the dominant software suppliers of today.

Context: 

The competition between suppliers of communication services is different from that between suppliers of physical goods, since what the former deliver is not just a platform for communication, but the access to service providers and to other users who have already invested in that platform. Other economic forces tend to further decrease competition in the software market. This makes it even more important to support the articulation of end-user quality demands.

Discussion: 

Examples
TCO Development, www.tcodevelopment.com
Krav Organic Labeling, www.krav.se
Users' Award, www.usersaward.com

An example of an emerging Users' IT quality network is the UsersAward network which was initiated in 1997 by a group of trade union activists and researchers who wanted to address the problem of expensive and centralistic workplace IT systems. Many such planning and control systems had become a bureaucratic hindrance for both employees and employers in Swedish firms. In 2002, the project, which by then engaged a consortium of researchers from four universities, had developed a quality certification method and demonstrated its viability by certifying two software packages in Sweden.

The Users' Award network is open for employees who want to take part in efforts to raise the quality of software for use in the workplace. The network arranges User Conferences where Exemplary software is showcased and discussed. It initiates periodic User surveys to gain hard facts about user preferences and user satisfaction with the major software services in the marketplace. A yearly Users' IT Prize contest has been held since the year 2000. Since 2002 the User Certified 2002 certificat has been issued to software suppliers who have passed the certification process developed by the research consortium which is an important part of the network. See image below.

Forces
The former software design manager at Apple, HP, and UNext sums up his design philosophy in the epigraph of his book Things that make us Smart [2]: "People Propose, Science Studies, Technology Conforms." This is a sharp criticism of what Norman claims to be the dominant division of roles today, that industry proposes, science studies, and consumers conform. The critique is elaborated in the book The Invisible Computer where Norman argues that 1) the typical computer user the last ten years has been a person with substantial technical expertise, 2) that, due to the fast dissemination of IT services, the typical user in the coming years will be a person without technical expertise, 3) that this will force a fundamental reorientation upon the hardware and software industries, bringing policies of user orientation to the fore.

Donald Normans analysis has been one of the inspirations for the UsersAward initiative. In the quote above, Norman identifies three social institutions as key actors in the overall process of innovation. We want to point out a fourth crucial actor, "the media", or three divisions of it to be more exact. Thus, the following social forces interact in complex ways to support the articulation of problems and solutions, an ongoing articulation process that could be further institutionalised in User-driven software labelling, (as it already has been for computer hardware):

- User groups complain about recurrent software problems and point out alternatives,
- popular media inform the general public about complaints and alternative solutions,
- research groups study the complaints and invent solutions,
- trade press scrutinise the research results,
- national media comment the research results,
- user oriented software suppliers implement proposed solutions,
- regulators and standards organisations confirm principles behind the solutions.

Dependencies
From APL (1):
Network of learning, University as marketplace.

From this proposed language:
IT quality survey (101), Users IT quality centre (102),
IT research consortium (103), Users' IT prize contest (382),
IT quality conference (383),
Users' IT quality certification (384)

Solution: 

Support initiatives in workshops, offices, schools and universities to articulate user requirements for the software you work with. Take part by formulating concrete demands that enhance the quality of the software you use in your group. Make it fit the decentralized teamwork organisations of tomorrow. If a Users' IT quality centre already exist in your region, support it by participating in its many activities. If it does not exist, take part in forming one.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Competitive software suppliers need demanding customers who can articulate sophisticated user requirements for the software they use in their daily work. Economic forces make it very important to support the articulation of end-user quality demands through initiatives in workshops, offices, schools and universities. If a Users' Information Technology Quality Network already exists in your region, support it by participating. If it does not exist, take part in forming one.

Pattern status: 
Released

Multi-Party Negotiation for Conflict Resolution

Pattern ID: 
759
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
79
Helena Meyer-Knapp
The Evergreen State College
Stewart Dutfield
Graduate and Continuing Education, Marist College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Any challenge to the status quo can lead to conflict, which raises a key problem: how to shift the conflict creatively to achieve real change. Even within like-minded social change communities, participants can find themselves in conflict with each other. To negotiate over disagreements on the basis that only one of the affected parties can gain at the expense of all the others is to perpetuate the status quo, and often leads to everyone involved feeling that they have lost more than they have gained.

Context: 

Organizations and communities dedicated to social change will encounter intense disagreements since they are working among people with strongly held beliefs and differing agendas. Many strategic action choices set up conflicts that do more to perpetuate the status quo than to change it: protests, negative media campaigns, lawsuits and regulation battles are time-honored tactics, but their win/lose dynamic tends to polarize opinions around longstanding hostilities. Problems can also arise when attempting to resolve conflicts by relying on a third party to mediate the issues, particularly if the dispute affects multiple divergent and distinct parties. Increasingly, social change actions are developed in settings at which participant decision-makers represent people from around the world. The UN Decade of the Women

Discussion: 

Starting in 1981 with the publication of the Ury and Fisher book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In,” Americans, in particular, learned to imagine solutions to conflicts in which constructive win/win solutions replaced the win/lose model. Ury and Fisher centered on negotiation, and negotiation remains a critical conflict strategy. Their Program on Negotiation at Harvard University Law School, operates as a training and research center with a particular focus on large scale and international conflicts, using a fourfold process: (a) separate the people from the problem; (b) focus on interests, not positions; (c) invent options for mutual gain; and (d) insist on using objective criteria. Central to this process is the ability to recognize whether a proposed agreement is in one’s interest; the best alternative to no agreement (BATNA) is a clear understanding of what one will do if no agreement is reached.

Good communication skills and versatile approaches to problem definition are critical to negotiation and to conflict resolution in general. There is no single posture or style which connects across all cultures and power differences, but many people have found Marshall Rosenberg’s training useful for learning to listen effectively and learning to ask clearly. Michelle Le Baron’s book offers detailed descriptions of good practice for respecting specific cultural factors that will impact any negotiation. Meyer-Knapp’s analysis of attempts to end wars highlights some additional factors: secrecy can facilitate progress in difficult talks, key leaders must be involved and success often depends on all parties publicly agreeing to end retributive and punitive actions.

Some conflicts become so embedded in communities that it comes to seem impossible even to discuss them. Two programs illustrate options for opening up the dialogue. The Public Conversations Project has set up forums for private and extended dialogue on abortion in the United States. In the cities where they have worked there is an increasing willingness to reach across the divisions. The Health Bridge Project in the former Yugoslavia achieved a similar effect by setting up clinics and health care recovery projects staffed by professionals from among the hostile Serb, Croat and Bosnian Moslem communities. One particular peacetime derivative of military “gaming” uses an intensive negotiation/planning protocol in which the stakeholders are explicitly required to negotiate from the perspective of someone other than themselves.

Intra-organizational disputes can be softened if workers and board-members routinely engage in mediation and facilitation training. Then, should a disagreement arise, they can use the skills on their own behalf. However managers must remember that in US law and culture, once an organizational dispute has arisen, decisions that withstand leglistic challenges are based in well grounded due process. The essentials of due process are timely handling of complaints, neutrality of decision-makers in relation to the dispute, the right of appeal, and an opportunity for all sides to have their point of view heard.

This pattern links to Conversational Support Across Boundaries, Citizen Diplomacy, Peaceful Public Demonstrations, Collective Decision-Making, Appreciative Collaboration

Solution: 

Conflict can supply a positive impetus to improve the situation, often through negotiations among a variety of opposing parties. So, approach change prepared to acknowledge and actively deal with conflict. To generate lasting change, use an imaginative array of conflict strategies and skills including negotiation, multi-party process, and cross cultural dialogue. To enable constructive outcomes, negotiate with flexible and compassionate attitudes to opposing parties. Organizations should develop and regularly review their capacity for negotiation and dialogue, both internally and externally. Schools at all levels should be teaching skills in negotiation, conflict resolution, and communication. In complex situations, each participant must be willing to assume the responsibility of negotiating for themselves.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Is it possible to shift conflict creatively to achieve real change? Recently people have begun to imagine solutions to conflicts in which constructive win/win solutions replace the win/lose model. To generate lasting change, use an imaginative array of strategies and skills including negotiation, multi-party processes, and cross cultural dialogue.

Pattern status: 
Released

Grassroots Public Policy Development

Pattern ID: 
862
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
78
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Michael Maranda
Association For Community Networking
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Ironically, public policy development is very unpublic. It's often silent, invisible, and developed "behind the scene." This results in poor public policy that favors narrow interests and blocks progress. As power and wealth become more concentrated, wealthy people and institutions become more and more dominant in the policy arena. When that happens, local and marginalized voices are not heard; people feel disempowered and disengage further from the political process. "Ordinary" people generally stay far from the public policy arena. They feel isolated and are unaware that others are striving towards positive change. When there are public policy successes, they're not often shared with other communities and the people at the grassroots who enter the public policy arena often must needlessly reinvent the wheel.

Context: 

As our lifeworld becomes more and more complex governance also grows more complicated. Meanwhile the need for sound policy becomes more essential. There are opportunities for grassroots political engagement for every policy issue that is at stake. Increasingly this will involve the intelligent use of new media and the Internet. Moreover, in this context, the development of the Internet — and policies regarding citizen use of and oversight of ICT in general — make these a critical areas in themselves for grassroots public policy development.

Discussion: 

Public policy determines whether a new library is built — and where — and how a new clinic for homeless people is funded — or not. It even determines to a large degree who has access to communication services and who has the right to control them. Although it is often "public policy" which silently promotes or discourages certain public actions, the development, maintenance, use, and, often, the very existence of the "public policy" is about as far from "public" as can be imagined.

Policy is governance. It helps address questions like, How will we live together in a complex society? How will we deal with the problems of our time and how we collectively define what those problems are? Will governance be of the people, by the people, for the people? or will it succumb to the defects resulting from a concentration of power and wealth? This pattern is closely related to Power Research because the information uncovered is likely to be useful in determining how policy is developed and what alternative practices may be effective for developing alternative policies from the grassroots.

Public policy often has a technocratic air about it. It's often constructed by "wonks" just as computer code is produced by "geeks" and both geeks and wonks are stereotypically portrayed as social misfits who prefer complicated and artificial arcana to the "real world" (of flesh, blood, emotions, etc.). But while it's true that policy development (like computer development) does have its degree of inherent complexity (especially as it assumes a final form), an important part of its development is not "geeky" at all: it involves the crucial task of determining what one would like to see in society and how it might be encouraged to happen.

Grassroots public policy development involves local engagement that is generally contrary to top-down approaches. It occurs when the problem and the solution are defined by the active local parties rather than imposed from outside. Jason Corburn (2005) discusses why people — especially non-professionals working in the local community — are unlikely to get involved in policy work.

"…one difficulty that local knowledge presents is that is insights are often very contextual, while policy-making tends to make general rules. Much of the work on local knowledge is ethnographic and deeply conceptual, and few general patterns or lessons are offered. Advocates of local knowledge have been understandably hesitant to "scale up" or generalize their findings and insights — largely out of fear of inaccurate decontextualizations, oversimplifications and unjustified generalizations."

Corburn goes on to point out that it isn't just local communities who lose out when they're excluded from the process. Society at large suffers as well as, interestingly enough, the policy "wonks" whose job it is to develop these policies.

"…professional decision makers have not found ways to incorporate the important understandings from studies of local knowledge into the more generalized practice of policymaking. Scaling up knowledge from local settings is a necessary task in environmental health because of the extreme heterogeneity in ecosystems and human-environment linkages. But local knowledge can be used to improve environmental-health decisions while maintaining a heightened sensitivity to the contextually specific qualities of this knowledge."

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation lists four types of public policy (Kellogg Foundation, 2006): statutory (including constitution / charter or laws), fiscal (including annual budgets, acts and resolutions), regulatory (administrative rules), and institutional (such as policy manual and standards, and tenure and appointment). For each public policy type, they describe broad characteristics including scope, applicability, duration, process characteristics and primary policy makers. Note that different jurisdictions will have different public policies and each contains a variety of types. Nevertheless, the public policy landscape of any given jurisdiction can be described and understood with some variation using this framework. Using the typology described above as a way to focus one's learning in the public policy arena — especially as it pertains to one's own area of interest — is usefull for focusing public policy engagement.

Once the type of policy to be developed has been established along with at least a rough form for the policy, the plan for implementing the policy should be developed. The process must be considered, including both the formal or legal aspects of the process and the informal, tacit and behind-the-scenes aspects of the process, especially in conjunction with a consideration of the primary policy makers and how they generally operate.

The Children's Partnership offers "Six Essential Elements Derived from The Children's Partnership's Experiences" that show the basic steps in a process of moving "from an idea to a successful public policy."

1. RESEARCH BASE that is grounded in what local communities want and need.
2. POLICY PROPOSAL that responds to findings from research — one that is saleable and scaleable.
3. WAYS TO COMMUNICATE the policy idea effectively.
4. DEMONSTRATION that the policy idea can work in the real world.
5. ORGANIZING / ADVOCACY for the idea — using strategic partnerships
6. FOLLOW THROUGH TO IMPLEMENTATION of the new policy.

The inherent problem of people approaching similar problems from diverse perspectives (and, hence, using different vocabularies) will continue to crop up. People working on similar problems may not find each other or be aware of their respective efforts and intentions. Other questions also need to be addressed: who gets to do what, whose ideas are taken into account, what attitudes (respectful, paternalistic, domineering) prevail, in whose name or on what basis decisions are made, and whether they are enforced or neglected.

People often do not know how to get involved and have limited experience with being effectively involved. They therefore require contexts or channels to guide their participation and an invitation to join the effort. There are numerous sociological and psychological dimensions at play here and people will need to advance in their individual development within this social exercise.

Although face-to-face encounters remain important, tools of the Internet era can be used to facilitate new modes of organizing. For one thing, people can allow for more open spaces for dialogue and engagement. It may also be possible to coordinate with other communities who are involved in similar activities. The Internet can promote the idea of moving decision-making power towards smaller local assemblies while maintaining flexibility and freedom to connect local assemblies. In other words, new online media can allow people and communities to organize more effectively around these principles and values.

Note also that although some action, procedure or decision might be properly enshrined as part of public policy, it may have very little bearing on how things are actually done. In other words, public policy is only as valid to the degree that it is enforced and/or respected and abided by. The use of this pattern is probably only reasonable to the extent that public policy is actually respected in the setting in which it is intended to be used. For that reason, the reality of the policy's actual deployment in society, in addition to any other relevant circumstances surrounding the development and use of the policy, needs to be given special consideration.

Solution: 

Public policy should genuinely reflect accumulated public wisdom. The discipline required for policy work must be distributed throughout the body politic in civil discourse, research, and inclusive creative deliberation. The exercise of grassroots public policy development is the ongoing work of reconstituting the public sphere.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Policy helps address issues related to living together in a complex society. Ironically, public policy development is very unpublic. It's often silent, invisible, and developed behind the scenes. We must advance Grassroots Public Policy Development which is distributed throughout the body politic in civil discourse, research, and inclusive and creative deliberation.

Pattern status: 
Released

Mobile ICT Learning Facilities

Pattern ID: 
485
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
77
Grant Hearn
University of the Western Cape
Version: 
2
Problem: 

In many countries, the lack of access to technology and Information and Communication Technology in particular, is an acute problem of both resources and location. Solutions must focus on making scarce resources cover as much ground as possible.

Context: 

Placing fixed computer facilities in communities with government or donor funding limits the benefits to the particular communities in question.

Discussion: 

One solution that has long been available in the sphere of basic literacy is the mobile library, whereby suitable motor vehicles carry libraries on wheels to those unable to otherwise access them. This makes good use of financial resources and allows a scarce and important asset to be brought to where it is most needed and reused continually.

The provision of similar traveling computer laboratories, the drivers of which are trained computer literacy educators, could play a similar role in bringing the ICT “mountain” to the disempowered. Self-contained units with their own power generation ability will grant ICT access to many people in remote locations or simply living in communities which are too poor to support such access in other ways. Encouraging community participation in the program will help to ensure that those in the community who could most benefit by the program will be helped first. The goals of such a program would be to:

  • Bring scarce and economically empowering assets to communities desperately in need of them or otherwise simply lacking in access to these assets by virtue of their remote location
  • Contribute to reducing the geographic and economic isolation of many communities
  • Begin to bring the wider world to communities who wish to gain knowledge of it and interact with it.
  • Contribute to the knowledge and skills of those joining the exodus from rural to urban areas in an attempt to provide survival strategies that move away from begging, menial labor and crime

In South Africa a similar initiative which focuses on bringing science and technology to disadvantaged communities is already in place. A bus called the Discovery Mobile travels to communities and gives young people the opportunity to interact with a wide range of exhibits inside the bus.

Solution: 

By working together with government, donors and communities, mobile computer laboratory facilities can be established to begin to answer the needs of many communities for exposure to and training in the use of information and communication technologies.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

In many countries, the lack of access to Information and Communication Technology is an acute problem. Just as the mobile library brings books to those who lack access, traveling computer laboratories with computer literacy educators as drivers can play similar roles. In South Africa, the Discovery Mobile bus travels to communities and gives people the opportunity to interact with science and technology exhibits.

Pattern status: 
Released

Open Access Scholarly Publishing

Pattern ID: 
880
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
76
John Thomas
IBM Research Hawthorne
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The cost of journals and books has risen to the point where libraries, let alone individual scholars, can barely afford them. This is not because the payments to authors have risen dramatically. Far from it. Nor have publishing costs skyrocketed. Instead, there has been a dramatic consolidation in the publishing industry along with skyrocketing profits, far faster than, for instance, the general rises in the cost of living. In addition, with the consolidation in the retail bookstores as well as publishers, the publishes concentrate their efforts disproportionately on textbooks that will have large markets. Moreover, even if publishing profits were driven to zero, there would still be many people in the world who would not be able to gain access to important scientific and scholarly information in the form of paper books and journals.

Context: 

There are many scholars, scientists, and teachers in a wide variety of fields. Only a very small percentage gain a significant amount of income from the publication of their scholarly works. In fact, in many cases, authors have to pay page charges to have their work published. Publishing companies make a lot of money. Yet, people who could gain greatly from the knowledge in books and articles cannot afford them. Not only do most scholars receive little, no, or negative income for publishing their work; the amount of work that they are expected to do has increased, Not too many years ago, authors sent in a paper manuscript and the publishing companies were responsible for typesetting and copy editing. Today, most publishers require computer-readable files completely formatted and expect the author to carefully check for typos, grammatical errors, word usage, etc.. In other words, the author now does much of the work that publishers used to do, but all the resultant reduction in costs have been added to the profits of publisher rather than to any benefits to the authors.

Discussion: 

Probably the best introduction to the important concepts in Open Access (OA) Scholarly Publishing can be found at Peter Suber's website:
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm
Among other important points, he debunks some important myths about OA. OA is not cost-free, for instance, although clearly, it can be less expensive than traditional use of a paper publishing company. Even if not completely cost-free, it can still be free to the readers. There are a number of different models of funding. In some cases, the authors pay a small fee; in others, institutions pay; in still others (e.g., NSF), granting agencies make OA a condition of acceptance. It is also pointed out that there is no necessary relationship between quality and whether something is paper published. OA journals support peer-review, high standards and editing (at least) as easily as paper media. OA archives typically permit researchers to post non-reviewed white papers, drafts, etc. OA projects do well to use the OAI metadata standards so that others may search works seamlessly across organizational boundaries.

Perhaps the best-known current example of open access scholarly publishing is the cooperative project known as the "Wikipedia" but there are many others. MIT is making all its course material available online; MERLOT is a cooperative project across many universities in the United States to share course materials. There are similar projects in Europe and Canada.

One example illustrating some of these concepts is the Global Text Project. THE GLOBAL TEXT PROJECT - Engaging many for the benefit of many more. While even individuals and libraries in the United States find it difficult to afford books and journals, these items in many in the developed world are completely beyond reach. In many countries, the price for the textbooks equivalent to the requirements for a single year of undergraduate college is higher than the median gross net income. The Global Text Project website (http://globaltext.org) states their goal as the provision of a library of 1000 free electronic textbooks for the developing world. These would comprise all the texts needed for undergraduates in every major. Many of the participants have experience with creating a free textbook about XML. The next two planned projects are for texts on management and on Information Technology.

The project seems feasible. Most scholars in the developed world are relatively wealthy compared with the developing world. Contributing to the education of other parts of the world can ultimately help developing countries lower disease rates and improve economic conditions, lower the probability of civil war, corruption and starvation. In turn, this increases the chances for more education in a virtuous cycle. In addition, contributing to such projects offers scholars the opportunity for enhancing their reputation and getting valuable feedback from other colleagues.

There are some advantages to print media. It is nice to be able to "own" an actual book or journal and annotate it. In some ways, the distinctive covers and form factors of books can serve as a helpful retrieval cue to the material inside in a way that websites typically do not. However, having books and journals online also has distinct advantages over and above the tremendous difference in costs. On line books allows one to search for keywords, put related passages on the screen side by side, apply automatic summarization techniques, run software to check spelling, grammar, difficulty level and easily reformat. On line books can also contain hyperlinks to other scholarly (or non-scholarly) work and websites.

There are other significant advantages to Open Source Publishing. Because the overall price is so much less (less cost and less concern with profit) publishing in a multitude of languages becomes feasible. In addition, for the same reason, a much wider variety of materials may be published. By way of contrast, textbook publishers tend to focus their efforts on books for very popular and required courses.

While this discussion has focused so far on the benefits of open source scholarly publishing to potential readers and society generally and has argued that there is little financial disincentive for most scholarly authors, a study by Antelman (2004) indicates that they may actually be substantial benfeits to authors as well. In her study of citations for articles in four fields (philosophy, political science, electrical engineering and mathematics) she found in each case a highly significant difference in favor of open source articles.

Solution: 

Provide ways (e.g., via Wikis) for scholars to jointly create and improve scholarly materials, have them peer-reviewed and disseminated to those who can learn and critique the information without always engaging the additional costs and gate-keeping properties of traditional paper publishers.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Due to industry consolidation and skyrocketing profits, the cost of journals and books has become outrageous. But even without profits, many people would still not be able to gain access to needed information. We need to create and improve online materials that are freely available and avoid the costs and gate-keeping of traditional publishers.

Pattern status: 
Released

Positive Health Information

Pattern ID: 
746
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
74
Jenny Epstein
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Health information in the developed world exists in vast quantities, not only for the general public but also for health professionals. Much of this information depicts good health in terms of vigilance against the failings of our own bodies. This serves to create dependency on a high tech, commodity health system.

Context: 

The style of language and the content of information are very important in how information makes people perceive the world. Authors in many fields have noted patterns of communication that create distrust and enforce dependency by emphasizing danger from external, uncontrollable forces. If people have a sense of helplessness in the face of this threat, they do not act upon their own feelings and perceptions.

Discussion: 

Negative language has the effect of emphasizing threats, magnifying fears, and creating dependency. Reminding people of their mortality tends to make them hold more closely to traditional culture (Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Greenberg, 2003); this has implications for mental health, and can also be used to influence mass opinion and behavior. A recent example is the US administration’s use of language to create fear and mistrust among the public by creating the specter of a constant external threat (Brooks, 2003).

Much health information, especially advertising from hospital corporations and pharmaceutical companies, uses this technique. A paternalistic (doctor knows best) and commodity-driven medical system produces an endless stream of information that encourages the perception that natural processes, such as growing older or pregnancy, are fraught with danger. This inhibits the spread of health information that is not based on the treatments that this system has to offer.

Language may not only be negative; it can also be empty (Brooks, 2003); complex issues are broken down into broad statements with little meaning. In health care information, this pattern of communication places the cause of ill health on the individual. The complexity of individuals’ relationships to the world they live in and the effects on individual health of pollution, poverty, and unhealthy social norms and values are ignored. People come to construe healthy behavior in terms of dependency on a medical industry that constantly invents not only new cures, but new diseases for the cures it already possesses (Blech, 2006).

Empty language is like empty calories. It tastes good and you can eat a lot of it, but you don’t obtain much benefit. A great deal of health information tempts us to feel that we are well-informed. We are bombarded by advertising and public health campaigns that do little more than create mistrust of the inherent healthy processes we possess. To reduce complex health issues to taking a pill ignores people’s emotional needs and the complex connection between body and mind; instead it emphasizes the negative aspects of their health.

The use of estrogen replacement in post-menopausal women illustrates this. Estrogen replacement was pushed on women as a way if combating the “problems” of growing old such as osteoporosis, heart disease, memory loss and drying skin. The unspoken message was that there was something wrong with growing old that taking medication could correct it. Preventative approaches, that emphasized a lifetime of healthy behaviors and the inherent correctness of aging, were ignored.

In pattern 47, Health Center, Alexander et al. (1977) describe a medical system that emphasizes sickness over health. By contrast, they show the Pioneer Health Center in Peckham, an experiment from the 1930s, as an example of medical care that focuses on health instead of sickness. In the same manner, health information must distinguish between healing and medicine. We need to hear messages of what is right with us and what needs to be done to stay in touch with the inherent health of our bodies.

Many alternative health practices, such as yoga, polarity treatment, or acupuncture focus on the inherent healthiness of the body. In these practices, the underlying concept is on healing, the natural process by which the body repairs itself. The rise of alternatives to conventional medicine reflects, in part, the lack of substance people feel from the information they receive after a visit to a doctor. Health-related discussion forums, that include both lay and professional perspectives but avoid the disease-mongering (Marshall & Aldhous, 2006) influence of industry funding, offer a way to make sense of information from various health related sources without falling victim to negative language and information; people put information into the context of everyday life and validate positive perceptions of themselves. This type of information has substance to it, not only because it is active rather than passive; it has the positive effect of engaging people in independent, creative thinking.

Solution: 

Health information should emphasize the idea that people are inherently healthy. It must inspire trust in the body’s ability to heal itself, once a healthy path has been taken. Where information of this kind is insufficient, either create it or supplant it with participant-controlled interactive forums.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Health information in the developed world often depicts health in terms of vigilance against external, uncontrollable forces. This fosters distrust and dependency on a high-tech, commodity health system. Positive Health Information is built on the fact that people are inherently healthy. It inspires trust in the body's ability to heal itself, once a healthy path has been taken.

Pattern status: 
Released
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