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Scrapbook

Context

We’ve maintained and revised our pattern catalog over a period of years.

Problem

Some of the patterns don’t seem to lead to concrete next steps.

Solution

We’ve created a Scrapbook for patterns that are no longer part of the active catalog.1 It’s worth remembering how we got to the point we’re at now, and the thinking that developed along the way, so the Scrapbook shows some patterns that seemed like a good idea at the time – and brief notes about why we no longer need them explicitly. We can use the Pattern Audit Routine to decide when to move a pattern into the Scrapbook.

Rationale

We want our collection of patterns to be concretely useful and actively used. It needs to be clear and pragmatic, and not overly theoretical or prescriptive. If we don’t see “what’s next” and where it came from, then it’s probably time to shift focus to something else more practical.

Resolution

After noticing that the idea of a Scrapbook can help us focus and help us present our work to others, we’ve decided to “retire” several patterns that seemed overly abstract or redundant as well as several antipatterns that didn’t suggest concrete next steps, and instead simply held a prism to our collective frustrations with the slow pace of a distributed volunteer project.2 The current catalog is leaner and redescribes our project in an action-oriented way.

What’s next

After significantly pruning back the pattern catalog, we want it to grow again: new patterns are needed. Reviewing the contents of the Scrapbook will be one place to look for inspiration, but there are others.3

  1. See http://paragogy.net/Pattern_Scrapbook. Note that the patterns in our Scrapbook use a slightly different template to the one we’ve currently adopted. 

  2. Retired patterns: Discerning a pattern, Polling for ideas, Moderation, Roles. Retired antipatterns: Isolation, Magical thinking, Messy with Lurkers, Misunderstanding Power, Navel Gazing, Stasis, Stuck at the Level of Weak Ties

  3. The Scrapbook could potentially be called an “Icebox” to emphasize that the patterns it contains may prove useful at a later date. Symmetrically, one of the tasks of the Wrapper should be to maintain a “Backlog” of proto-patterns, in the form of outstanding problems and issues.