Orientation

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

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

Accessibility of Online Information

Pattern ID: 
502
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
75
Robert Luke
University of Toronto
Version: 
2
Problem: 

There are many digital divides -- those based on economics, gender, race, class, and ability. We can understand these divides by dividing them into two main categories -- accessibility to, and accessibility of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Accessibility to ICTs means having access to the technologies that connect one to the network society. Accessibility of ICTs means that these technologies of access are accessible to those with disabilities. But what does it mean to provide accessible ICTs and online environments?

Context: 

"For people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient, whereas for people with disabilities, it makes things possible . . . [this] fact brings with it an enormous responsibility because the reverse is also true. Inaccessible technology can make things absolutely impossible for disabled people, a prospect we must avoid."

Judith Heumann, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education. Keynote address to Microsoft employees and experts on disabilities and technology, Redmond, Washington, February 19, 1998

Discussion: 

Just as buildings are built with accessibility factored into their architecture from the ground up, so too must WWW and Internet architecture factor in accessibility initiatives from the outset to ensure equitable access to online resources. Accessibility standards such as the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C WAI) Guidelines offer developers guidelines for designing inclusive information infrastructures.

The WAI guidelines provide a blueprint for ensuring that ICTs used to access them are accessible to all. They are meant to prevent digital divides from growing disproportionately to the continued use of new technologies. By taking into account accessibility considerations, people with physical and/or learning disabilities are encouraged to become producers of information, and not just passive consumers. This is an important point, and a distinction worth making. It is one thing to ensure that ICTs and online media are rendered accessible for those using assistive devices (screen readers, special keyboards, mouse devices). It is another thing entirely to ensure that people with disabilities can actively participate in creating content for the online world. A key factor of accessibility is ensuring that those with disabilities can access both the information produced for and in the electronic world, and equally as important, can also access and use the tools needed to produce this content.

Here we can return to our accessibility to and ofdistinction. Accessibility of means making electronic information accessible according to the W3C’s WAI guidelines. Accessibility to ICTs means making the tools required to produce electronic content accessible also. These two taken together means ensuring that all people, regardless of ability, can participate equally in the production of the network society, in the information produced and broadcast via communication technologies. Creating knowledge from this information is what defines the network society. To our accessibility bifurcation we must add the ability to assess, to decode, and to use information, central components of what we can call digital literacy. Ensuring this knowledge benefits from all voices ensures that this network society is inclusive, representational, and reflective of the society at large.

Have You Unplugged Your Mouse Today?

What exactly does it mean to make Web content accessible? A review of accessibility issues by various disability groups will enable us to understand the barriers faced by a significant proportion of the population. It is useful to remember that the percentage of people with either a physical or learning disability that may impair access is around 20+% (54 million people in the US alone) (Waddell, 1999), and grows significantly according to age group.

How Many People Have Disabilities (US)?

Age Group Proportion of People with Disabilities
0 -- 21 10%
22 -- 44 14.9%
45 -- 54 24.5%
55 -- 64 36.3%
65 -- 79 47.3%
80+ 71.5%

Visual and hearing impairments are among the disabilities associated with ageing. U.S. Census Bureau (Qtd. in “Accessibility in Web Design” )

Disabilities that may impair access include visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive impairments. To give you an idea of what barriers these users face, here is a list of some difficulties by disability group:

Vision --include blind and low vision people who use screen readers to access electronic information. Items that may be inaccessible or cause difficulty for vision impaired people include:
· Some Java elements
· Browse buttons
· Poorly labeled form elements
· Inconsistencies in layout
· Inconsistencies in language
· Surprise popup windows
· Multiple frames and nested tables
· Other problems included the illogical display of steps required for task completion, and confusing and ambiguous use of terminology

Hearing -- hearing impaired people need closed captioning for audio so this information will not be lost to the hearing impaired.

Mobility -- people with mobility impairments may use screen readers, laser and infrared head mouse devices, special keyboards and other products to access online and electronic information. They face problems similar to those encountered by the visually impaired.

Cognitive and Language/ Learning Disabilities -- people with these kinds of special needs use a variety of access devices to help improve access and cognition. Difficulty with language usage, the manner in which text and links are encoded, and the use of colors, fonts, sounds, graphics, all may have an adverse impact on LD people. Other issues include:
· Inconsistencies in layout and language
· Absence of alternative formats (no redundant display of information)
· Difficulty with multi-step activities
· Confusing terminology (e.g. "click here")
· Complexities in page/site payout and lack of clear and consistent instructions or other navigational aids.

Other factors affecting all disabled users include:
· Lack of experience with Internet/WWW technologies
· Lack of experience with assistive and adaptive technologies
· Operating system, software conflicts and difficulties
· Sites and technologies that do not support alternative access devices and strategies

Solution: 

Solution:

Following the W3C WAI guidelines is one way to ensure that all online information is accessible to persons with disabilities or to those who rely on adaptive and assistive technologies. Voluntary compliance on the part of all online providers will help the evolving standards of the WWW keep pace with the population. However, it is imperative to seek ways to encourage the accessible design of web materials from their first iteration. Inclusive design practices must take an active role in directing the development of accessible technology.

Equally as important is the need to educate all users and developers of ICTs on accessibility. This includes focusing on the ways in which the network society -- the culture in which ICTs are embedded -- can best respond to the needs of all people. This means looking at the social contexts in which technology sits, and examining the broader issues of access and living in a culture increasingly dominated by various mediating technologies. It means focusing less on individual accommodations and more on providing inclusive network infrastructures from the ground up. We need to develop a cultural or environmental approach to providing accessible ICTs and online environments. By building in “electronic curbcuts” from the ground up, online media and ICTs offer an inclusive opportunity for all people to participate in digital information exchange. Accessibility affects us all: Some of us directly; all of us indirectly.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Digital "divides" are based on economics, gender, race, class, ability, or other factors. We can view these divides in two ways — accessibility to, and accessibility of, information and communication technologies. Accessibility means being able to connect to the network society. It also means that these technologies are accessible to those with disabilities. We must find ways to design for accessibility at the onset. Accessibility affects us all: Some of us directly; all of us indirectly.

Pattern status: 
Released
Information about introductory graphic: 
Wikimedia Commons

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

Powerful Remittances

Pattern ID: 
785
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
73
Scott Robinson
Universidad Metropolitana
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The amount of remittances that people working in the developed world send home to their families is huge, estimated to approach US$232 billion in 2006. This figure surpasses by far the total of direct foreign investment and overseas development aid. Many countries, in fact, around the world, now rely on remittances as a major source of foreign exchange. World Bank technical reports fret about how best to leverage remittance income. While remittance transfers has become a growth industry (e.g. “banking the unbanked”), public policy has to date been reluctant to regulate this phenomenal resource flow apart from the usual concerns about money laundering. Remittance transfers grow annually, but this growth curve is not indefinite. Low-paid "guest workers" (many working "illegally", i.e. sans documents) in richer countries send a portion of their paychecks to their families back home. Their cheap labor allows many industries to remain competitive. In the recipient countries, this foreign exchange often represents a large percentage of GDP. While the amount of money is large, the percentage of funds siphoned off as commissions at various points during the transfer process is also significant, but steadily dropping. Five years ago the average transfer cost was often close to 15%, whereas today it is around 5.5%. Nevertheless, there is considerable room for further transfer cost reductions via innovative information technologies and regulatory reform. Remittance transfers from the migrant refugees from recent structural adjustment policies and "market failures" represent the flip side of global capital flows.

Context: 

The poor countries generally have few job opportunities and their "best and brightest" leave the country in what amounts to a new form of resource extraction (if not a new form of inverse "colonialism"). This process seems to be self-perpetuating, as the respective national Diaspora circuits become consolidated and young men and increasingly women as well migrate Northbound, to the United States or Europe, or Westbound to the Gulf States, upon reaching adulthood. Migration patterns may vary significantly within countries. Village cultures, family and ritual life has adapted to these new circumstances, often less than a generation old. Transnational communities are now the norm in many regions of Mesoamerica, Mexico to Nicaragua, the Caribbean microstates, regional pockets in northern South America and sub-Saharan Africa, amongst South Africa

Discussion: 

National elites quietly applaud these incoming resources; unfortunately, some would like to tax them as income as some US state legislatures also propose. This money is an aggregate of private, family funds that paradoxically provoke a positive multiplier effect for local merchants and economies, while reducing somewhat demands for social services from public funds and improving the balance of payments in national accounts. Remittance flows in hard currency reinforce central banks’ stock of foreign exchange, in effect reducing interest rates for the minority with access to credit. Banks and money transfer operators (MTOs to the financial community) now accept foreign government identification cards (e.g. Mexico’s Matrícula Consular ) thereby bypassing strict migration controls in some countries. Global remittance flows may be a contemporary form of social Darwinism whereby "remittances seem to be taking care of local needs." While in the job and remittance-generating host countries, workers from poor countries are often exploited, denied basic rights and services while paying local taxes, and increasingly, demonized by racist “seal the borders” ultranationalists.

Mexico has taken the lead in leveraging migrants’ remittances via a 3 for 1 program now operating in 16 states of its federal system. Begun in Zacatecas in 1992, for each dollar a migrant organization earmarks for investment in public improvements in specific locations back home, the municipal, state and federal governments contribute another dollar. Gradually, many municipios are paving their plazas, building sidewalks, refurbishing the churches, adding bathrooms to primary schools, etc. This program can be exported and other countries are discussing its implementation.

The emergence of these remittance economies is a function of emigration patterns that attest to the failures and limitations of the capitalist development model. Near monopoly MTOs (e.g. Western Union and Money Gram) dominated the early phase, but the profits to be made attracted many new players, including regional companies and most recently, commercial banks and credit unions. Workers deliver cash to a MTO receiving window, often in franchises located in small businesses and storefronts in migrant urban neighborhoods or small towns next to labor intensive industries (furniture, poultry and meat packing, fruit and vegetable farms). The licensed MTO moves the funds via their electronic network, situating the remittance at the assigned location on the receiving end in the migrant’s home country. Often the remitter is unaware of the foreign exchange rate used (US dollars or Euros to his/her local currency), and MTOs have been sued for offering exchange rates well below the market value on the day of the transaction. In addition to service commissions, exchange rate “spreads” are a major component of MTOs’ bottom line.

In the United States, undocumented workers often use a fake Social Security identification card and number. Employers accept them at face value and send obligatory salary deductions to the Social Security Administration that deposits these funds in a special Earnings Suspense Fund (ESF). This account now receives over USD$7 billion a year, a significant sum that will never be reclaimed by workers in the future. The ESF is a de facto migrant subsidy to the US social security capital budget. It remains an open question if this amount equals or is less than the value of social services non-tax paying migrants receive at the state and local levels.

This pattern of massive remittance transfers can be more transparent and cost efficient while leveraging resources for migrant families and organizations committed to growth back home. Information technology can substantially reduce remittance transfer costs and improve transparency if both financial and telecommunications regulatory reforms were in place. Experts in the field admit that commissions and exchange rate spreads totaling 2.5% of the amount sent home allows for a healthy profit for MTOs. Commercial and financial elites, both in the North and the South, at present profiting from the poor, are probably not going to willfully innovate in this fashion. Accelerating the citizenship process and then, mobilizing former migrant voter turnout may lead to immigration policy reforms in the North. Simultaneously, migrant organizations need to continue to fight for their rights, services’ access, job safety, and civic respect in the framework of each respective national "guest worker" policy. Also, there is immense potential in using the power that can be derived from the aggregated sums of small proportions of remittances to bring pressure to bear on political elites in the home countries. This is beginning to happen in Mesoamerica where returning migrants manage collective remittances, run for public office, win, often reconfigure local priorities and lobby for reforms at other levels. The power of leveraging this amount of money via political lobbying and policy reform will have impacts both in the North and South.

Solution: 

Non-profit foundations working with migrant organizations could set up alternative networks of cost plus transfer mechanisms and otherwise protect remittance transactions while lowering costs still more. Stored value cards will play a strategic role in this process. Voice over Internet Protocol free or low cost phone calls will contribute to lower communications costs, a significant aspect of each migration circuit. International financial institutions could offer matching funds for specific investments back home. There is room for innovation and experimentation for migrant organizations and their supporting transnational communities. Emerging remittance economies may reconfigure local politics over time.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

People leave poor countries in search of jobs. Village cultures and families have adapted to this and to the significant sums of money sent home. Information technology innovation can reduce remittance transfer costs and improve transparency. Financial institutions could offer matching funds for investments while non-profit foundations working with migrant groups could set up alternative transfer networks.

Pattern status: 
Released

Participatory Budgeting

Pattern ID: 
471
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
71
Andrew Gordon
University of Washington Evans School
Chris Halaska
Social Design
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Developing a budget is a task often left to financial "experts" even though the decisions that result from the budget-making process impact everyone, and the ideas that inform budget decisions often are improved by the experience and insights of a wide range of individuals. Budget development is in fact a "political" act, with "winners" and "losers" most of whom never participate in the process.

Context: 

Properly understood, budgets and the budget development process are tools through which social values are expressed and manifested in useful public activity. This pattern explains the importance of budgeting and encourages participation in all stages of budget development. Public budgeting connects to several other patterns. For example: participating in the creation of budgets is an ideal way to foster Civic Intelligence (1); joint budget development helps create Shared Vision (9); public budgeting via online tools is an example of Using Collaborative Technologies for Civic Accountability (257); and understanding budgets is one aspect of Power Research (128).

Discussion: 

A fundamental step in the life of any organization is the design of a budget. The decisions which are made early in the process (e.g., What is to be budgeted for? What are the sources of income? Who is to be paid? What are the categories of effort which are highly compensated and what effort is to be considered voluntary?) often set core parameters for the future, and impact not only the ways in which time and money are spent, but also the values and reputation of the organization, and even its soul.

But budgeting is often treated as a "technical" process which should be handled by experts rather than as a political activity in which many people should be invited and encouraged to participate. One way in which budgets can be more easily discussed publicly is to use online tools to disseminate budget information, host public discussions, and create sample budget variations -- though from our experience, we believe this should be coupled with face-to-face discussions whenever possible.

The best-known example of participatory budgeting is found in Porto Alegre, Brasil, where community residents (now numbering in the thousands) have cooperated since 1989 in annual deliberations about the allocation of a portion of the municipal budget. Poor citizens are vastly more engaged in this process than is typical in budgeting processes, and increasing proportions of the city's revenue have been directed towards improving the most impoverished parts of Porto Alegre. While there is some disagreement over how much of this outcome to attribute to the participatory budgeting process, there is no doubt about the increased sensitivity of all citizens to the importance of budgeting decisions. In June, 1996, the United Nations declared the "popular administration" of Porto Alegre as one of forth urban innovations at the Second Conference on Human Settlements.

Various related experiments in participatory budgeting have taken place on several continents since Porto Alegre, typically fine-tuned to local circumstances, with an evolving set of principles promoting conditions that enhance the effectiveness of the process.

Several important attempts at involving typically excluded citizens in the budget allocation process have occurred in the U.S. -- often during progressive periods. Two of the most significant were the Affirmative Neighborhood Information Program during Mayor Harold Washington's tenure in Chicago (Kretzmann, 1992), which failed to survive successor administrations; and the Seattle Public Schools multi-year experiment in decentralized, "school-based" budgeting, supported by an online budgeting tool (Halaska, 2000).

In the Seattle experiment, a vastly increased proportion of district resources was redistributed from the central administrative offices to individual schools. School principals were encouraged to engage in a public budgeting process where trade-offs (e.g. reduced class size vs after-school music programs) were actively debated -- both in public meetings and online. The process was messy because "democracy is messy" and was controversial at every stage, in part because it surfaced hidden assumptions about core values in public education. Some participants believed that this process had the potential to provoke a fundamental rethinking of the purposes of the education process itself.

Key findings from the Chicago and Seattle experiments align with the principles of Porto Alegre and elsewhere. For example, it is important that significantly different approaches to budgeting such as these become so embedded that they cannot readily be set aside by later regimes. Equally critical is that traditional budget staff be convinced about the importance of participatory budgeting. While philosophical and political discussions about larger scale budget issues can be done without technical assistance, detailed information about current costs and funding formulas typically reside with budget staff. Without their support, key budget information can be difficult to obtain. Moreover, while the ideology of participatory budgeting has wide appeal, critical studies should be undertaken to determine under what circumstances participatory strategies have lasting effects and whether, in the case of participatory budgeting for example, systemic changes such as in the labor market must occur for poorer citizens to benefit from these new strategies in the long run.

Solution: 

Budgets for organizations in the public sphere should be developed openly and inclusively, in public meetings and using publicly accessible online tools. Budget assumptions should be discussed, and rethinking of assumptions, priorities, and allocations should be encouraged, no matter how far they depart from current practice. At every stage, the results of the process should be made public for feedback and refinement. Attention should be paid to what has been learned from experience (for example, about the wisdom of convincing traditional budget staff of the utility of public budgeting), and studies of the long-range impact of participatory budgeting are essential.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Budget development is often thought of as a dry, technical task, best left to "experts." But budgets are critical tools through which social values are expressed. Developing a budget, with its criteria and categories, is a "political" act. Participatory Budgeting helps to bring in people who generally don't participate in the process. There are now many successful examples in which whole communities play substantial roles in the budgeting process.

Pattern status: 
Released

E-Consultation as Mediation

Pattern ID: 
475
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
70
David Newman
Queen's University Belfast
Version: 
2
Problem: 

How can we improve public consultation between citizens and their public servants? How can we facilitate the participation of groups who currently don't take part, and use their input to find policy consensus?

Context: 
  1. Formal public consultations initiated by government agencies.
  2. Informal communications between representatives (MPs, councillors, ...) and their constituents.
  3. Community and voluntary organisations attempting to consult their members and clients to determine their response to a policy initiative or government consultation.
  4. Media or community sponsored discussions on a local issue.
  5. Mediation between anatogonistic communities who have conflicting interests.

Note that the pattern applies most strictly to the final context, where a government body is mediating between competing interests (e.g. in a planning inquiry). It is one of a number of patterns that can be followed in the other situations.

Discussion: 

Current public consultation is deficient in a number of ways. Few people have the time or language skills to respond in writing to 20-page consultation documents. It is mainly professionals with a financial interest who do so. Rarely are public meetings attended by more than a few local retired people. The language of the documents is often obscure and couched in public sector jargon. The questions asked are the ones the officials feel safe asking, not the ones local communities would ask. The style is not one that engages the interest of anyone who is not a committed activist, let alone young people.

This has become very clear in places, such as devolved regions of the UK, where public consultation has suddenly grown very fast. In Northern Ireland, equality legislation forced 120 public authorities to consult on how they were planning to measure the equality impact (gender, race, religion, age, class) of each of their policies over the next 5 years. This led to 120 long documents being sent to the same 80-120 voluntary organizations, with 8 weeks to reply. Their choice was to ignore them (whereupon the officials could continue to do what they had done before) or to spend every day drafting replies, with very little time to talk to the people who would be directly affected.

Contrast this with experimental use of ICTs in public consultations in the Netherlands, the use of Internet chat to hold discussions between young people in East Belfast (the only neutral venue at the time) on human rights, and research into on-line mediation support systems in Germany (for planning disputes).

Can we design an appropriate use of software to support electronic public consultation that improves both its effectiveness in reaching different people, and its efficiency in controlling information overload and consultation fatique?

Consider consultation as an inter-organizational learning process. Knowledge is transfered between citizens and government, as they learn from each other. In particular, the policy makers need to better understand the needs, life experiences, and preferences of different actors in civil society (sometimes called stakeholders). In doing that, they act as both apprentices, learning from citizens, and mediators, managing disputes between different groups of citizens.

When there are strong disagreements between different groups, a mediation or negotiation model is appropriate, based on what we understand about dispute resolution in communities that have been affected by conflict. This can be used to build a pattern of the process, and identify technologies to support different stages in that process.

Solution: 

Considering public consultation as a series of mediation and negotiation processes, it should be possible to participatively design software that supports these human processes, in the stages identified in the table below.The technologies that can be used at different stages are described in more detail in a guide to e-consultation.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

In good public consultations knowledge is transferred between citizens and government as they learn from each other. E-Consultation can be seen as a Mediation process which is run in stages. At the beginning issues and needs can be collected from stories in forums and social media. Policymakers need to better understand people's needs, life experiences, and preferences in order to participatively design solutions to social problems.

Pattern status: 
Released

Equal Access to Justice

Pattern ID: 
806
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
69
Donald J Horowitz
Wash State Access to Justice Tech Principles Comm
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The fundamental principle of full and equal access to the justice system, particularly for those who suffer disparate barriers or are otherwise vulnerable, faces new opportunities and challenges from the advances in information and communication technologies, which can provide increased pathways for quality access but can also perpetuate or exacerbate existing barriers or even create new ones.

Context: 

This pattern is based upon a trailblazing effort by the Washington State Access to Justice Board, an agency of the Supreme Court, to define principles and develop implementation strategies, means and methods, for ensuring that technological capabilities and advances are effectively incorporated throughout the state justice system in ways consistent with the fundamental principle that all persons should have equal access to justice. A recent legal needs survey had revealed that 87% of all low income people in the state who had civil legal problems were unable to secure legal help, and that residents of rural counties had substantially less access to technology-based resources than their urban counterparts. Therefore the overriding intent of the effort was to develop, implement and institutionalize principles within all justice system agencies to increase access to justice system information, resources and services for all, and especially those who most need it.

Discussion: 

Currently, technology is creating opportunities for people to use their home or nearby library branch or community center to find out about, initiate or respond to court or other law related needs, obligations or requirements, communicate and exchange documents with their legal service provider or others in or associated with the legal system less expensively, using less time and effort, without having to travel to a central city, and with less time away from work or other necessary resources. This can be especially important for the elderly, persons with disabilities, persons with limited financial means, and those who can’t afford to miss time from work for reasons of financial need or jeopardizing their employment. Similarly, a person with limited mobility or hearing may be able to get information electronically about his or her rights as a tenant; a victim of domestic violence can learn on the Internet what she can do and in fact be able to start the legal process of protecting herself. The courts and other parts of the justice system can operate more productively and less expensively, making court and legal records and information more readily available, and receive filings, fees, documents and information, all electronically.

However, the means of using these very possibilities also create the risk of worsening old barriers or erecting new barriers to access, causing greater disparities. While the opportunities described above seem positive, these innovations assume access to a computer, reasonable proficiency at using them and their necessary software programs, reading capability, fluency in English and sufficient phone or cable and electricity availability and capacity at affordable cost to support sufficient connections and streams of information and interactivity. Without all of that, those who have the tools and means, the proficiency and the necessary infrastructure available get further ahead, and those without fall further behind in having the justice system work for them. The lack of equality gets greater, not less.

On December 4, 2004, the Washington State Supreme Court became the first court in the United States, perhaps the world, to formally adopt by Court Order, a set of authoritative principles to guide the use of technology in its justice system. The stated purpose was to ensure that the planning, design, development, implementation and use of new technologies and the management of existing technologies by the justice system and associated organizations protects and advances the fundamental right of equal access to justice. Over a three-and-a-half year period, the Washington State Access to Justice Board drew on the input and involvement of a diverse group of approximately 200 people and organizations from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to develop formal Access to Justice Technology Principles to serve as the practical operating norm for justice system organizations and entities throughout the state.

The Access to Justice Technology Principles broadly define access to justice as the meaningful opportunity to: (1) assert a claim or defense and to create, enforce, modify, or discharge a legal obligation in any forum; (2) acquire the procedural or other information necessary to improve the likelihood of a just result; (3) participate in the conduct of proceedings as a witness or juror; and (4) acquire information about the activities of courts or other dispute resolution bodies. Access to justice, moreover, must include timeliness, affordability and transparency.

Briefly paraphrased, the six Access to Justice Technology Principles are:

1. Requirement of access to justice: Introduction of technology or changes in the use of technology must not reduce access or participation and, whenever possible, shall advance such access and participation;

2. Technology and just results: The justice system shall use and advance technology to achieve the objective of a just process by impartial and well-informed decision makers and reject, minimize, or modify any use that reduces the likelihood of achieving that objective;

3. Openness and privacy: Technology should be designed to meet the dual responsibilities of the justice system of being open to the public and protecting personal privacy;

4. Assuring a neutral forum: All appropriate means shall be used to ensure the existence of neutral, accessible, and transparent forums which are compatible with new technologies

5. Maximizing public awareness and use: The justice system should promote ongoing public knowledge and understanding of the tools afforded by technology to access justice

6. Best practices: Those governed by these principles shall utilize “best practices” procedures or standards to guide the use of technology so as to protect and enhance access to justice and promote equality of access and fairness.

A broad-based interdisciplinary implementation strategy group then developed a set of practical strategies and initiatives to transform the principles from the words of a court-ordered statement of vision into a pervasive operational reality through the state justice system. Once the principles are truly institutionalized in justice organizations, then, as a matter of ordinary routine, the design for every new technology project would incorporate accessibility and usability and increase transparency of and information about the justice system for all users, especially those who are or may be excluded or underserved as well as those experiencing any barrier to accessing justice system services. Essential actions include: (1) Development and maintenance of a Web-based Resource Bank; (2) Initial and ongoing communication to and training for justice system and associated agencies about the ATJ Technology Principles and available resources for implementation; (3) Demonstration projects; (4) Public awareness and usable information. Additional requirements address policy-level governance and guidance as well as ensuring the continuing relevance, effectiveness and use of the Principles over time.

Solution: 

A great deal has been said and written about what has come to be called “The Digital Divide,” both domestically and internationally. Respect for and use of the rule of law is an essential way to move to a less divided, more equitable society and world. Accessible quality justice for all individuals and groups is a recognized worldwide value that crosses cultural as well as geographic lines. Meaningful access to justice can and does empower people to be part of creating their own just societies. This effort is the first such undertaking, and can provide a useful example that can be adapted and used not only in other places, but in other sectors of basic public need, such as access to health care, access to food, access to safety, and other essentials.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

The principle of full and equal access to the justice system faces opportunities and challenges from new technologies. While technology can provide new pathways it can also exacerbate existing barriers or create new ones. Technology can allow people to use their home, library, or community center to find out about, initiate or respond to law related requirements, and communicate and exchange documents less expensively, using less time and effort.

Pattern status: 
Released
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