• Hi

    These is my log of professional, political and sometimes personal thoughts and observations. I am Bettina Walter, a Senior Information Architect (IA), Interaction Designer and Usability Professional.
    I am co-owner of PunkLogic.

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    Interaction Design

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Christopher Alexander – a most beautiful mind.

The IAI mailing list has been discussing the usefulness and approach of collating an IA pattern library. Christopher Alexander is one of the team of architects who wrote ‘A Pattern Language’ Victor Lombardi pointed to a keynote Christopher Alexander gave at The 1996 ACM Conference on Object-Oriented Programs, Systems, Languages and Applications. (Thanks Victor)

While the subject of a pattern library for Information Architecture is very interesting and relevant – what resonated with me most reading Christopher’s keynote was his conclusion about our moral imperatives and powers.

‘Please forgive me, I’m going to be very direct and blunt for a horrible second. It could be thought that the technical way in which you currently look at programming is almost as if you were willing to be “guns for hire.” In other words, you are the technicians. You know how to make the programs work. “Tell us what to do daddy, and we’ll do it.” <…>

What I am proposing here is something a little bit different from that. It is a view of programming as the natural genetic infrastructure of a living world which you/we are capable of creating, managing, making available, and which could then have the result that a living structure in our towns, houses, work places, cities, becomes an attainable thing. That would be remarkable. It would turn the world around, and make livingstructure the norm once again, throughout society, and make the world worth living in again.

This is an extraordinary vision of the future, in which computers play a fundamental role in making the world — and above all the built structure of the world — alive, humane, ecologically profound, and with a deep living structure.’ <…>

For me Christophers conclusion is as valid today as it was when he addressed the ACM conference 1996.

I have been grappling with the compromise between ethics and to whom I hire my services for as long as I can think. I am striving to make good choices and find myself often limited by reality – like supporting our children, mortgage payments…

Sam, Christopher Alexander and me, Resurgence 2005

I am still so chuffed to have met him.


5 Responses

  1. Happy to be of service.

    And ‘chuffed’ to find your site (if that’s correct English 🙂

  2. ‘chuffed’ – adjective British Informal.
    delighted; pleased; satisfied
    (Dictionary.com Unabridged)


  3. […] Alexander also envisioned (in a speech delivered to IA professionals ) that, in the Information Architecture,  a pattern language should be constructed and developed so […]

  4. Love the links to Alexander and his vey structured planning steps which could be applied any circumstance..reminds me of another teacher…tim Winton’s ppts/lect on Energy from a Permaculture perspective…We r all it…err ENERGY!

    Architecture is a mystical / spiritual process if you allow it again tapping into energy and its laws of thermodynamics ….and should produce beautity as well as good functionality ..also applies to IA

    prendi non?

  5. Hi Gareth, thanks for your comment. I love science and have a utilitarian mindset.
    Architecture (real spaces and online) ‘sings’ when it cares for what humans want to achieve within a space.

    Creativity (playing through solutions) – combined with love (good intentions) and learning (science findings and up to date best practice methods) are enough excitement for me. I have no appetite for ‘the mythical’.

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