Orientation

Citizen Journalism

Pattern ID: 
805
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
91
Lewis A. Friedland
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Hernando Rojas
University of Wisconsin
Version: 
2
Problem: 

For democracy in a complex society to work well, journalism is necessary. Citizens need information about the political, economic, and cultural systems that structure their lives in order to act on them effectively. However, traditional news institutions have had major failures in their ability to adequately cover new

Context: 

Distributed information on the web opens new possibilities for citizen information. Some say that we at the

Discussion: 

The magnitude and interest in Citizen Journalism is quite new, although forms of it have existed through much of modern history. The pamphleteers of the American Revolution were, in their way, citizen journalists. Many of the newspapers that cropped up in the 19th Century were started by non-professionals, who saw a need in local communities and began publishing a mix of news, advertising, and gossip. Newspapers were professionalized in the 19th Century, leading to a relatively independent corps of journalists oriented to fact-based "objective reporting. But professionalization also discounted the underlying truth claims on one side or another and led to a decline of independent judgment and, sometimes, support for the status quo.

Beginning in the 90s, public or civic journalism constituted a major reaction to this state of affairs. The movement grew from the principle that while news organizations could and should remain independent in judging particular disputes and advancing particular solutions to problems, they ought not to remain neutral on democracy and civic life itself. About of a fifth of all American newspapers and some television stations experimented with civic journalism from the early 90s to the early 2000s, but other pressures subverted it.

By the mid-1990s, the web began to offer a different alternative. Blogging offered new networks of opinion writing, as well as criticism of traditional media outlets. Some considered it journalism, others editorializing or soapboxing. But, what was clear was that the new writing could carve out its own space of attention on the web (although it remained dependent on the reporting of the mainstream media).

Citizen journalism as a distinct movement emerged in early 2000s. Journalists like Dan Gilmor, left the San Jose Mercury News to start Bayosphere, an independent journalism blog. At the same time, political blogs grew rapidly in number and influence on both left and right sides of the political spectrum. The emerging practices of citizen journalism run the gamut from new forms of audience participation in traditional media to citizen expression in the blogosphere In terms of content they alternate fact-oriented reporting of locally based participants in the context of a global network, to self-expression of opinion. What defines citizen journalism, then, is not specific content, a given business model or a form of reporting, but rather a networked structure of storytelling that is based on the following premises: a) openness of information; b) horizontal linkage structures rather than vertical flows of information; c) blurring lines between content production and consumption; d) diffused accountability based on reputation and meaning, rather than on structural system hierarchies.

One of the best examples of a mainstream media institution practicing citizen journalism is the Spokane Spokesman Review (www.spokesmanreview.com/) which systematically incorporates the views of Spokane's citizens in every aspect of its reporting, from hard news to sports. The Review has even put its morning news meeting on the web.

Another strand of citizen journalism is a hybrid, in which professional and citizens interact in the production process. The exemplar in this realm is Ohmy News (www.ohmynews.com) from South Korea whose motto is "Every Citizen is a Reporter." Ohmy News has a paid editing and reporting staff that works on 200 plus daily submissions from citizens. More than 40,000 citizens overall have contributed to the site. U.S. Sites like the Twin Cities Daily Planet (www.tcdailyplanet.net) and the Voice of San Diego (www.voiceofsandiego.org) are seeking to replicate its success, and Ohmy News is investing in its International site. Recently, Jay Rosen in PressThink (http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/) has proposed New Assignment, a hybrid model in which citizens will submit issues and topics they want to see reported on, and professional editors will pursue the story along with citizen journalists.

The Madison Commons project in Wisconsin has developed another type of hybrid model. The Commons project trains citizens to do neighborhood reporting and gathers reporting from mainstream media aggregates it on a local web site. (www.madisoncommons.org). Another good example of academic/citizen partnerships is represented by Mymissourian (www.mymissourian.com), in which journalism students serve as editors for citizen journalists.

Finally, the blogosphere emerges as a massive example of citizen journalism as part of a large conversation that either makes or comments on the news. Of course blogs, their content, their significance and recognition vary widely, from general blogs of professional journalists like Gilmore’s to pundits on the left and right, to community level aggregators to more personal expressions (www.baristanet.com/).

Citizen journalism allows anyone who wants to contribute to public debate as an active participant. There are a number of relevant motives: the intrinsic enjoyment of interviewing, reporting and writing. The civic rewards of contributing informed knowledge to a larger public discussion and debate. And the reward of building an alternative institution, whether local news alternative or worldwide public.

First, citizen journalism offers the ability to collaborate to make many small contributions to what is essentially an ongoing conversation among many people, most of whom do not know each other than through the common project. Second, the so-called "wisdom of crowds," holds that many people know more than a few, that even experts only have limited knowledge, and that a broad open domain with many contributors will produce useful and valid knowledge.

Third, and closely related to these, is the idea of "the people formerly known as the audience." (Rosen and Gilmore). This is to say that the audience for news media (media in general) is no longer passive. Rather it is an active group that will respond in a continuum to the news, ranging from simple active reading, linking and sending stories to friends via email and lists, and commenting on stories, to contributing factual knowledge that can flesh out or correct a story, to actual writing as citizen journalists. Across all these levels of activity citizens become more engaged with their communities.

An active and engaged citizenry can expand the range of topics discussed, and improve the quality and extent of information about any given issue, by opening it up to anyone involved. Citizen journalism creates the possibility for civic action to be deliberative instead of hierarchical. By participating directly in the production and dissemination of journalism citizens help, even in small ways, to set the news agenda.

Alternatives to citizen journalism such as face to face community level deliberation exercises and electronic dialogues are both important and complimentary to citizen journalism, but they lack the fact-based component which is critical to democracy and that should not be solely in the hands of traditional media.

For citizens to use this pattern, there are a number of things they can do. They can go to websites like www.j-lab.org to find out how to begin doing citizen journalism themselves, and have access to many tools and examples. The best overall resource for thinking about citizen journalism is Press Think (www.pressthink.org) which also links many layers of citizen journalists, mostly in the U.S. Those interested in the international movement can go to Ohmy News International (http://english.ohmynews.com) or Wikinews (www.wikinews.org). There are also web resources such as the News University that where originally conceived to enhance the training of journalists, but that can also improve the journalistic skills of citizens (www.newsu.org).

There are three main challenges to citizen journalism: sustainability, inclusion and traditional journalism. Probably the biggest challenge to doing citizen journalism is sustaining a distributed enterprise that requires time, attention, and skill, from both producers and contributors/readers. A second challenge is to avoid ending up in many small communities of group monologue rather than in a broader community dialogue. And finally, citizen journalism may accelerate the erosion of traditional journalism without replacing it with a new model powerful enough to center attention on core social problems, in a society that is already highly distracted.

Nevertheless, is appears that a pattern that brings together the networked discussion of citizens in the blogosphere with fact oriented reporting will be a more fitting model to build a vibrant public sphere than the centralized and hierarchical model of the printed media and mass television that we have now (Maher, 2005). Benkler (2006) has made a powerful argument that the baseline for our evaluation should be the mass media model that has, in many ways, failed to report on the most critical issues of our day, not an idealized model of citizen journalism. Further, for the foreseeable future, they will continue to complement each other, willingly or not.

Solution: 

Build new models of citizen journalism, nationally, internationally, and locally to create new forms of reporting and public accountability. In local communities, build information commons to support the active learning and participation of citizens in changing the traditional media ecologies to ones that blend the best of citizen and traditional media. For individuals, learn new skills of reporting via the web, and become an active reader, commenter, and contributor.

The citizen journalism pattern is already being realized world-wide. Its beauty is that is only takes a sufficient number of citizens with access to technology and an interest in some story. Citizen journalism is growing daily as the increasing number of projects worldwide and the expanding blogosphere attest. Whether it will continue to grow will depend upon the solutions posed by these projects to the challenges of sustainability and inclusion. Although it is early to asses the impact of citizen journalism it would appear that in Korea it has served to open the political spectrum and in the United States to redefine the news agenda. It remains to be seen, whether, and how, citizen journalism can develop in non- democratic countries. At least in theory it could represent an important pathway in the development of a networked civil society that brings about democratization change.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Citizens need information about the political, economic, and cultural systems that structure their lives. This is usually produced by journalists — but citizens can be journalists. The beauty of Citizen Journalism is that it only requires: citizens with dedication, skills, and access to networks, and an audience for the news they produce. Citizen Journalism represents an important opportunity for the realization of democratic change.

Pattern status: 
Released

Service-Learning

Pattern ID: 
428
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
90
Norman Clark
Appalachian State University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The people who are the most affected by the digital divide typically need to access information from nonprofit organizations. However, most NPO's do not have the time, personnel, and/or skills to create and maintain web sites. Thus, the service-oriented information needed the most by lower income community members is often not online. In addition, many lower-income community members lack the skills necessary to effectively use web sites. Finally, data supporting the local impact of the digital divide is often insufficient or even non-existent.

Context: 

This problem has a unique solution in regions surrounding college campuses with service-learning programs.

Discussion: 

The groups most likely to be impacted negatively by the digital divide are paradoxically the groups that need access to basic service-related information the most. Quite often, members of these groups also lack the skills needed to use the Internet effectively. In addition, nonprofit organizations (NPO's) often have the information needed by these disadvantaged groups, but also paradoxically are unable to make this information available online. The needs of both groups are in conflict, and create a context in which it is extremely difficult for either group’s needs to be met. Digital Divide Impacted Groups’ Needs: * easily accessible and up-to-date information * interaction with service providers * appealing design * intuitive navigation systems * training NPO's Needs/Lacks: * personnel to put information online while still meeting clients' needs * additional time to create and maintain web pages * knowledge and skill to create effective web sites * funds to pay for server space or a webmaster One possible solution is for the NPO's to rely on a volunteer from the community to create and maintain a website. However, relying on volunteer labor for web sites is risky, due to the turnover rate and varying skill levels of volunteers. What is needed is a pool of skilled, but cost-free, assistance. One place to find this pool is on college campuses with service-learning programs. Service-learning is a pedagogical method designed to link course content with external experiences. Students learn the course-related materials through traditional learning in the classroom and through practical projects in and with the community, as well as about the reality and significance of the social issues faced by the community; while simultaneously providing a service to the community by meeting specific needs of the agencies or the populations with which they work. A service-learning class intentionally links the content of the course to a relevant NPO's goals. Students benefit from the chance to apply their skills to a real problem, and to learn about the needs of the community; while the NPO's benefit from the chance to have some of their goals and needs met, and to influence the next generation of leaders. In the long run, research has shown that students who take part in service-learning courses feel a greater sense of connection to their local communities, as well as an understanding of their interdependence with their neighbors. Connection and interdependence are building blocks of responsibility, and responsible citizens are in turn the building blocks of strong communities. The initiative for a service-learning course can come from a number of different places. Individual professors can choose to use this pedagogical method in their courses, universities may require service-learning in certain classes, or community agencies may propose projects that fit with the learning objectives of a class. Regardless of the source, effective service-learning requires collaboration between the members of the community and the academic institution: it should be done WITH the community, not ON the community. The goals and needs of the community must be combined with the goals and needs of the course. This process of collaboration is often facilitated by offices on the campus specifically designated to assist with service-learning. The service can take one of three forms. 1) Direct service: students work with the community members served by local agencies. In the case of the digital divide, students in a wide range of courses could train local community members to access and evaluate online information. This training could be done at the local library, senior centers, retirement homes, elementary schools, and any other locations with the necessary facilities (connected computers). 2) Indirect service: students work with the local community agencies to provide them with some needed assistance, which indirectly benefits their clients. In the case of the digital divide, students in web design courses can be required to create and/or update web sites for local NPO's, or run workshops training agencies representatives to maintain their own sites. 3) Community-based research: students (with faculty support) conduct research for and with a local community agency. In the case of the digital divide, people trying to change the existing systems sometimes lack the hard evidence needed to prove that a problem exists. Students in a wide range of research-methods courses could conduct survey research into the impact of the digital divide at the local level. But most importantly, the impact of a service-learning course goes beyond the immediate project: it results in changed lives. This is because a critical component of any service-learning course is reflection. Research shows that we don't really learning anything from experience (we often make the same mistakes repeatedly); we learn from thinking about our experiences. Students in service-learning courses are required to reflect on their experience in rigorous, thoughtful, and evaluated ways. This process drives the learning home, increasing the integration of knowledge they have gained in the present course with the way they live their lives in the future. For example, to create web sites, students must understand the agency, which means they must research the role that the NPO plays in the community, the populations that it serves, and the social issues that underlie its mission. This research helps students understand how critical access to the right information is for everyone, and how information is always related to power. Putting students in contact with members of the local community can also help dispel stereotypes. Students' easy access to computers often leads them to mistakenly believe that the digital divide is just a "Mercedes divide." Requiring students to work with underfunded and understaffed non-profit agencies, who are themselves working with disadvantaged groups, can open their eyes to the very real informational needs in the communities in which they live.

Solution: 

Service-learning provides a way to use the resources of a college or university to meet real community needs, such as designing web sites for NPO's or training community members to effectively access and evaluate information online. Students can create valuable resources for the community while simultaneously becoming more aware of the social issues in that community. This ensures that once people are able to cross the digital divide, they will find the local information that they need, and not just more places to shop. This also creates the possibility for the next generation of leaders to have a better understanding of the information needs of their local community.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

While many important community issues are ignored, higher education often focuses on abstractions. It can miss the myriad issues that are everywhere. Service-learning connects learning and research to practical projects. In relation to the online world students could maintain web sites for non-profit organizations, train agency representatives to maintain their own sites, and train community members to access and evaluate online information.

Pattern status: 
Released
Pattern annotations: 

Future Design

Pattern ID: 
441
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
88
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Version: 
2
Problem: 

By acting as though the future will never arrive and things never change, we are subconsciously creating the future with the seeds that we are unwittingly sowing today. Whether by actively embracing the conventional "wisdom" that has created these socially and environmentally precarious times or by succumbing to the dictates of habit, instinct or necessity, humankind seems to sleepwalking into the future. Indeed it is quite plausible that we are creating the ideal conditions today for unspeakable disasters tomorrow.

Context: 

This pattern can be used in a million situations, especially when people feel strongly that the directions they're following aren't the directions that they think they ought to be following. Employing this pattern often takes the form of a collaborative envisioning exercise with a variety of stakeholders.

Discussion: 

Looking at the future with open, imaginative and critical eyes can open up the possibility of — if not the demand for — fundamental social change. After all, why would anybody bother to contemplate the future if there were no possibility of change; if every step taken was an echo of some past step.

The purpose of this pattern is to get people actively engaged envisioning better futures and making plans on how to get there. Through "rehearsing for the future" we hope to create a wealth of possible scenarios that could become the positive "self-fulfilling prophecies" of tomorrow, rather than the violent and exploitive scenarios that seem to rule today.

Educational settings are not the only setting for introducing and advancing a rich future-oriented agenda but they may be the best. Unfortunately, however, current educational practices seem to be oblivious to the future. Schools present topics such as mathematics or science with no historical context. History, on the other hand, though based on human events, becomes an "authoritative" recounting of past facts while the future is a "mere abstraction" (Slaughter & Beare, 1993). And since everything seemingly and inexorably unfolded in an inevitable way, the sequence of human events appears largely unalterable.

One failing of a non futures-oriented educational approach is the lack of inquiry into the causes of the world's problems (Slaughter & Beare, 1993). Nor is there any effort to develop or consider that could help alleviate these problems. Beyond a cursory look at history, where the impact of people who aren't elites is never evident, many people worldwide live in an eternal now, a temporal cocoon which cultivates amnesia of the past and ill preparedness for the future. Both elites and "ordinary people" seem unwilling to acknowledge that they have roles in shaping the future. Forgetting that fact in the face of immense 21st Century challenges strips humankind of its fundamental capacity to consciously make plans (Slaughter & Beare, 1993).

Future Design helps surface the internal models of the future that have been ignored, repressed, or deliberately kept from view, and attempts to understand how they play out and how they came to be. At the same time, and somewhat independently, Future Design builds new models that help liberate us from dangerous inertia and help us be more effective in our thinking about and acting on the future.

There is an endless variety of exercises, games, workshops, and other activities that we are calling "Future Design." Many of these could be organized and convened in just about any setting. Lori Blewett and Doug Schuler recently used a "Design a Society" workshop to organize a large team project in our "Global Citizenship" program at The Evergreen State College. Schools, of course, should not be the only place where Future Design can be pursued. Future Design activities are needed that could be done individually (and, hopefully, shared), on the job (government, NGOs, business, etc.), with activists, and as broad-based, possibly phased, longer-termed projects — with or without government involvement and support.

The current project, Open Space Seattle 2100 to develop a "comprehensive open space network vision for Seattle's next 100 years" contains elements (including the need for participants and resources — even if it's just time) that could be considered typical of Future Design activities. Since the Seattle plan is ambitious it requires broad support and ample resources. The University of Washington and the City of Seattle are key players as are a variety of environmental, civic, neighborhood, professional and other groups. Many of the Future Design projects that have civic goals are participatory and inclusive. At the same time that the community is developing a collective vision, the organizers also aim "To catalyze a long-term advocacy coalition and planning process for Seattle's integrated open space."

The Seattle project consciously invokes the visionary park and landscape work of the Olmstead brothers in the early 1990's that contributed to Seattle's livability. The timeline for this project which is longer than standard planning horizons, frees participants from a variety of constraints on their thinking. By encouraging people to think beyond what's considerable immediately do-able people are more likely to be creative. On the other hand, if the timeframe is too far in the future participants are likely to feel detached from the enterprise. The Seattle project gets around this by including tasks for the short-term as well as visions for the long-term.

In order to strike a balance between the real and the imagined, designers of Future Design projects must provide a structure for less-structured activities to take place within. The projects must provide prompts — scenarios, instructions, props, etc. — that encourage people to imagine a future without forcing them down certain paths. Since people can't simply be instructed to "be creative," these "prompts" are used to promote futures thinking among the participants. This pattern can be used in many settings, but research has shown that Future Design needs a supportive atmosphere, and, as Open Space Technology literature suggests, participants need to participate with passion, commitment and an open-mind. A broad spectrum of community groups needs to be represented, or at least recognised, or the outcome can reaffirm prejudices and help perpetuate old conflicts.

Future Design processes often provide a variety of participatory opportunities. The 7-10 person teams that addressed open space issues in one of the neighborhoods outlined on the Seattle Charrette Map (see image at end of this pattern) are key to the effort but organizers have organized a lecture series and a blog (http://open2100.blogspot.com) to encourage alternative ways to participate.

Massive challenges await this vain undertaking at every turn. How effective is Future Design? How do games and other Future Design approaches translate into action How do future designers from one group build on the results of others? Interestingly a project whose recommendations aren't implemented can still be a success. Margaret Keck describes the "Solucao Integrada" (Integrated Solution), a plan for sewage treatment and environmental restoration in Brazil, which, although shelved by the government, lived on in the public's eye as an example of sensible large-scale solution in the face of other ill-conceived projects. "Success" must be judged in a variety of ways and this includes inclusivity and richness of the Future Design process, its immediate impacts and its indirect contributions to the overall imagination and civic culture of a community.

Finally, as John Perry Barlow's email tagline reminds us: "Man plans, God laughs." Human history is full of twists, enlightened and macabre, tragic and heroic. The future is unlikely to come out the way we think it will or want it to, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying to work towards the goal of a more just and healthy future.

Solution: 

Develop participatory activities that addrdess these four major objectives: (1) Develop visions of the future and ideas about how to achieve them; (2) Bring into the light and critically analyze the current models of the future that people, society and institutions are employing both explicitly and implicitly; (3) Help instill feelings of empowerment, compassion, hope and courage in futures thinking and action; and (4) At the same time, cultivate humility in regards to the unknowability of the future and the limits to human reason and understanding.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

By acting as though the future will never arrive and things will never change, we are creating the future with the seeds that we are sowing today. The purpose of Future Design is to get people actively engaged envisioning better futures and making plans on how to get there. Through "rehearsing for the future" we hope to create possible scenarios that could become the positive "self-fulfilling prophecies" of tomorrow.

Pattern status: 
Released

Value Sensitive Design

Pattern ID: 
474
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
87
Batya Friedman
University of Washington
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Human values and ethical considerations no longer stand apart from the design and development of information and communication systems. This shift reflects, at least in part, the increasing impact and visibility that information and communication technologies have had on human lives. Computer viruses have destroyed data on millions of machines. Large linked medical databases can, and often do, infringe on individuals' privacy. The fair outcome of the national elections may hinge in part on the design and management of computerized election ballots. On and on, the media portray such problems. In turn, software engineers, designers and developers must now engage not only the technical aspects of their designs but the value and ethical dimensions as well. Yet how should they do so? What theories, methods, tools, and techniques might they bring to this challenge?

Context: 

Values are at play in all phases of envisioning, designing, developing, implementing, deploying, appropriating, and on-going re-appropriation and re-invention of computer and information technology. In all these activities there exists the need for explicit consideration of values, value tensions, and value trade-offs. The Value Sensitive Design pattern can be used throughout all of these phases. Moreover, it is expected that Value Sensitive Design will be used in conjunction with other successful methodologies (such as Participatory Design, systematic debugging and testing practices, rapid prototyping) with a variety of practitioners including software engineers, usability engineers, interaction designers, information solution professionals, and concerned direct and indirect stakeholders.

Discussion: 

“That technology itself determines what is to be done by a process of extrapolation and that individuals are powerless to intervene in that determination is precisely the kind of self-fulfilling dream from which we must awaken…I don't say that systems such as I have mentioned [gigantic computer systems, computer networks, and speech recognition systems] are necessarily evil – only that they may be and, what is most important, that their inevitability cannot be accepted by individuals claiming autonomy, freedom, and dignity. The individual computer scientist can and must decide. The determination of what the impact of computers on society is to be is, at least in part, in his hands…It is possible, given courage and insight, for man to deny technology the prerogative to formulate man's questions. It is possible to ask human questions and to find humane answers.” (Joseph Weizenbaum, 1972, p. 614.)

Heeding to the call of computer scientists like Joseph Weizenbaum and cyberneticist Norbert Wiener before him, the emerging field of Value Sensitive Design seeks to design technology that accounts for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner throughout the design process (Friedman, 1997; Friedman and Kahn, 2003; Friedman, Kahn, and Borning, 2006). Value Sensitive Design is primarily concerned with values that center on human well-being, human dignity, justice, welfare, and human rights. This approach is principled in that it maintains that such values have moral standing independent of whether a particular person or group upholds such values (e.g., the belief in and practice of slavery by a certain group does not a priori mean that slavery is a morally acceptable practice). At the same time, Value Sensitive Design maintains that how such values play out in a particular culture at a particular point in time can vary, sometimes considerably.

Value Sensitive Design articulates an interactional position for how values become implicated in technological designs. An interactional position holds that while the features or properties that people design into technologies more readily support certain values and hinder others, the technology's actual use depends on the goals of the people interacting with it. A screwdriver, after all, is well-suited for turning screws, and yet amenable as a poker, pry bar, nail set, cutting device, and tool to dig up weeds. Moreover, through human interaction, technology itself changes over time. On occasion, such changes can mean the societal rejection of a technology, or that its acceptance is delayed. But more often it entails an iterative process whereby technologies are invented and then redesigned based on user interactions, which then are reintroduced to users, further interactions occur, and further redesigns implemented.

To date, Value Sensitive Design has been used in a wide range of research and design contexts including: an investigation of bias in computer systems (Friedman and Nissenbaum, in Friedman, 1997), universal access within a communications company (Thomas, in Friedman, 1997), Internet privacy (Ackerman and Cranor, 1999), informed consent for online interactions (Friedman, Howe, & Felten, 2002), ubiquitous sensing of the environment and individual rights (Abowd & Jacobs, 2001), computer simulation to support of democratization of the urban planning process (Borning, Friedman, Davis, & Lin, 2005), social and moral aspects of human-robotic interaction (Kahn, Freier, Friedman, Severson, and Feldman, 2004), privacy in public (Friedman, Kahn, Hagman, Severson, & Gill, 2006), value analyses in reflective design (Senger, Boehner, David, & Kaye, 2005), and the place of designer values in the design process (Flanagan, Howe, & Nissenbaum, 2005).

Methodologically, at the core of Value Sensitive Design lies an iterative process that integrates conceptual, empirical, and technical investigations. Conceptual investigations involve philosophically informed analyses of the central constructs and issues under investigation. Questions include: How are values supported or diminished by particular technological designs? Who is affected? How should we engage in trade-offs among competing values in the design, implementation, and use of information systems? Empirical investigations involve both social-scientific research on the understandings, contexts, and experiences of the people affected by the technological designs as well as the development of relevant laws, policies, and regulations. Technical investigations involve analyzing current technical mechanisms and designs to assess how well they support particular values, and, conversely, identifying values, and then identifying and/or developing technical mechanisms and designs that can support those values.

How then to practice Value Sensitive Design? Some suggestions follow (see also Friedman, Kahn, & Borning, 2006):

  • •Start With a Value, Technology, or Context of Use. Any of these three core aspects – a value, technology, or context of use – easily motivates Value Sensitive Design. Begin with the aspect that is most central to your work and interests.
  • Identify Direct and Indirect Stakeholders. Systematically identify direct and indirect stakeholders. Direct stakeholders are those individuals who interact directly with the technology or with the technology’s output; indirect stakeholders are those individuals who are also impacted by the system, though they never interact directly with it.
  • Identify Harms and Benefits for Each Stakeholder Group. Systematically identify how each category of direct and indirect stakeholder would be positively or negatively affected by the technology under consideration.
  • Map Harms and Benefits onto Corresponding Values. At times the mapping between harms and benefits and corresponding values will be one of identity; at other times the mapping will be multifaceted (that is, a single harm might implicate multiple values, such as both security and autonomy).
  • Conduct a Conceptual Investigation of Key Values. Develop careful working definitions for each of the key values. Drawing on the philosophical literature can be helpful here.
  • Identify Potential Value Conflicts. For the purposes of design, value conflicts should usually not be conceived of as “either/or” situations, but as constraints on the design space. Typical value conflicts include accountability vs. privacy, trust vs. security, environmental sustainability vs. economic development, privacy vs. security, and hierarchical control vs. democratization.
  • Technical Investigation Heuristic – Value Conflicts. Technical mechanisms will often adjudicate multiple if not conflicting values, often in the form of design trade-offs. It may be helpful to make explicit how a design trade-off maps onto a value conflict and differentially affects different groups of stakeholders.
  • Technical Investigation Heuristic – Unanticipated Consequences and Value Conflicts. In order to be positioned to respond agiley to unanticipated consequences and value conflicts, when possible, design flexibility into the underlying technical architecture so support post-deployment modifications.

Note: Much of the material in this pattern was adapted from Friedman and Kahn (2003) and Friedman, Kahn, and Borning (2006).

Solution: 

Human values and ethical considerations are fundamentally part of design practice. Value Sensitive Design offers one viable principled approach to systematically considering human values throughout the design and deployment of information and other technologies. Through its theory and methods, Value Sensitive Design asks that we extend the traditional criteria (e.g., reliability, correctness) by which we judge the quality of systems to include those of human values.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Human values should be actively considered in the design and development of information and communication systems. Increasingly, it is through these systems that people engage in dialog, educate their children, gain access to resources and systems of justice, conduct business, and participate in government. Value Sensitive Design provides theory and methods to account for human values in a principled and systematic manner throughout the design process.

Pattern status: 
Released

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

Design for Unintended Use

Pattern ID: 
477
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
84
Erik Stolterman
Indiana University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

A designable and open technology like the Internet is never finished or final. This type of open technology invites ongoing creative use, which in turn drives the evolution and development of the technology. While creative use is associated with active and engaged users, it can present severe challenges in the design of public systems. From the perspective of the designer, the creative user is unpredictable and random and uses the system in unintended ways that can be detrimental to the overall functionality and robustness of the system.

Unfortunately this often leads designers to create closed systems with little or no room for user action outside the intended scope. This approach, however, can result in systems that are unattractive to a creative and imaginative community that desires ownership and opportunity to developing a system that is effective from their perspective.

Context: 

Unintended use exists wherever open and designable technology is used. People tend to use systems in creative ways insofar as the design of the technology allows it. The Internet and related technologies have historically benefited from a concept and infrastructure supporting unintended use. We continue to be surprised on a daily basis by new and inventive applications of the Internet.

Although the internet has changed over time, this essential foundation remains. This technology is well-suited for large, open communities that grant people (as users) ample freedom in the ways they can relate to and apply it. This technological foundation can be exploited for a creative user-driven design.

Discussion: 

A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson

Many observations, both scientific and anecdotal, describe how people use technology in unintended ways. Studies show this happens within organizational settings as well as on the open Web. However, the predominant concept is that the design of a technology should make its use obvious, that it should be user-friendly. Studies have shown that in many cases such systems leave users feeling they are just users (or even customers) of a community system and not participants (Ciborra, 1992; Carroll & Rosson, 1987).

Instead of viewing unintended use as a problem, it is possible to define it as an opportunity; instead of designing to protect" the system for creative use, design the system to support and withstand creative use. A system that can handle unintended use will be well equipped to evolve over time and to be updated, and thereby continue to be relevant to users in the community.

To be able to design for unintended use, we must study how people as users deal with and approach technology in everyday life, rather than focusing on what they should do when using it in the "correct" way. Creative unintended use is and will always be context- and situation-specific, and it will probably not be possible to produce abstractions that could subsequently be used to produce generalized knowledge or concise design principles.

The important thing, however, is to find out how people understand, imagine and approach technology. Since Internet technology is designable, community support systems can never be moved from one community to another without adaptation. This means a tool or a specific use that is simply copied will not work the same way under two different circumstances. The tool must be redesigned. The most important knowledge question is, therefore, what kind of knowledge and understanding of the technology is needed to create a solid foundation for these kinds of context-specific redesigns.

A community is always changing. People develop new needs and wants. The technology for supporting such a community must build on the idea of "unintended use." Unintended use is not a threat to the supporting system; instead unintended use should be understood as a creative driving force. Creative unintended use is a way for users to "take control" of the technology, to make it relevant to them. Unintended use is fact of life in a community support system - not a problem.

Solution: 

The solution is to intentionally design for creative unintended use. Design principles for creative unintended use can be formulated and used to inform new designs (Stolterman, 2001). Some examples of such principles are: (1) the system must be sufficiently robust to withstand creative use “attacks” from users, (2) the system must also be "forgiving," which means it has some ability to accept creative use changes without demanding complete safety, (3) a system whose purpose is to elicit creative and radical use, must also present a sufficiently rich, inspiring, and complex environment, and (4) also provide the user with tools for exploring and changing the system itself, (5) the system must also be designed as an open system, i.e., it should be possible for users to expand the scope and breadth of the system without demanding too much structure and administration. These high-level design principles must be further developed and expanded. There is a need for experimental approaches to design for unintended use that are relevant to the situation at hand.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Designable, open technology invites ongoing creative use, which in turn drives further evolution and development. The solution is to intentionally Design for Unintended Use. Users should be able to expand the scope and breadth of the system without demanding too much structure and administration. The high-level design principles must be developed and expanded, through a variety of experimental and other approaches.

Pattern status: 
Released

Voices of the Unheard

Pattern ID: 
479
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
83
John Thomas
IBM Research Hawthorne
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Despite the significant effort and thought that goes into decision making and design, bad decisions and designs are frequently conceived and implemented primarily because a critical and relevant perspective was not brought to bear. This is especially true if the missing perspective represents that of someone who holds a stake in the outcome.

Context: 

Complex problems such as the construction of new social institutions or the design of multifaceted interactive systems require that a multitude of viewpoints be brought to bear. Unfortunately, this is all too often not the case. One group builds a "solution" for another group without fully understanding the culture, user needs, extreme cases, and so on. The result is often a technical or social system that creates as many problems as it solves. This process is often exacerbated when those building the "solution" interact more intensely with each other than with those affected by the solution.

Discussion: 

The forces at work in the situations requiring this pattern include:

* Gaps in requirements are most cheaply repaired early in development; for this reason, as well as the need to gain acceptance by all parties, all stakeholders must have a say throughout any development or change process. This is an ethical issue as well.
* It is logistically difficult to ensure that all stakeholder groups are represented at every meeting.
* A new social institution or design will be both better in quality and more easily accepted if all relevant parties have input.

The idea for this pattern comes from a Native American story transcribed by Paula Underwood entitled, "Who Speaks for Wolf?"

In brief, the story goes as follows. The tribe had as one of its members a man who took it upon himself to learn all that he could about wolves. He became such an expert that his fellow tribes members called him "Wolf." While Wolf and several other braves were out on a long hunting expedition, it became clear to the tribe that they would have to move to a new location. After various reconnaissance missions, a new site was selected and the tribe moved.

Shortly thereafter, it became clear that a mistake had been made. The new location was in the middle of a wolves’ breeding ground. The wolves were threatening the children and stealing the drying meat. Now, the tribe was faced with a hard decision. Should they move again? Should they post guards around the clock? Or should they destroy the wolves? Did they even want to be the sort of people who would kill off another species for their own convenience?

At last it was decided they would move to a new location. But as was their custom, they also asked themselves, "What did we learn from this? How can we prevent making such mistakes in the future?" Someone said, "Well, if Wolf would have prevented this mistake had he been at our first council meeting." "True enough," they all agreed. “Therefore, from now on, whenever we meet to make a decision, we shall ask ourselves, ‘Who speaks for Wolf?’ to remind us that someone must be capable and delegated to bring to bear the knowledge of any missing stakeholders.”

Much of the failure of "process re-engineering" can be attributed to the fact that "models" of the "as is" process were developed based on some executive's notion of how things were done rather than a study of how they were actually performed or asking the people who actually did the work how the work was done. A "should be" process was designed to be a more efficient version of the "as is" process and then implementation was pushed down on workers. However, since the original "as is" model was not based on reality, the "more efficient" solution often left out vital elements.

Technological and sociological "imperialism" provide many additional examples in which the input of all stakeholders was not taken into account. Of course, much of the history of the U.S. government's treatment of Native Americans reflects a refusal to truly include all the stakeholders.

A challenge in applying the "Who Speaks for Wolf" pattern is to judge honestly and correctly whether, indeed, someone does have the knowledge and delegation to "speak for Wolf." If such a person is not present, we may do well to put off the design or decision until such a person, or better, "Wolf" himself can be present.

As a variant of this, a prototype creativity tool has been created. The idea is to have a "board of directors" consisting of famous people. When you have a problem to solve, you are supposed to be reminded of, and think about, how various people would approach this problem. Ask yourself, "What would Einstein have said?" "How would Gandhi have approached this problem?"

Solution: 

Provide ways to remind people of stakeholders who are not present. These methods could be procedural (certain Native Americans always ask, "Who speaks for Wolf"), visual (e.g.,diagrams, lists) or auditory (e.g., songs).

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Despite the significant effort that goes into decision making and design, bad decisions and designs are often made because a critical and relevant perspective was not heard. This is especially true if the perspective is that of a stakeholder. Remind people of voices that aren't present through procedures, diagrams, or, even, songs.

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
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