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Christopher Alexander Group
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Five of us met for several hours this Monday and Tuesday evening at a cafe in Berkeley to discuss Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order.

My notes are a bit of a jumble.
    Need a change of worldview to communicate with others...like Wolfram...easier to be enlightened than to be devout...like Extreme Programming: a message for ordinary people...a shift of lens...no practical way to talk about values...Leibnitz, the last polymath...yin/yang...how would I make a better table?...observe...find resonance...what feels more human?...two jobs: fight fires; put them out...odd number of fish in the print...universality that does not persist...local not global...the Torah is on earth...the chicken is not in the egg...the earth is not a mechanism; it can't go backwards.

    Let's get practical...use this to do things better...everything's connected...just doing the local is satisfying to some...locals, not local: it's all relative...like Extreme Programming, don't think too far ahead...look for guidance...give us a vocabulary for going step-by-step without prejudging and thereby limiting the outcome...
We did our own Alexandrian forced-choice comparisons. I'd brought these objects:

For each pair of objects, we chose the one with the most humanity...the most resonant...the one we're drawn to. The ideal is to make the decision from deep inside, not thinking of categories or past experiences or cultural baggage.

We were unanimous in our feelings about these pairs. Which item do you find more alive?

Modern loupe or military loupe?

Ketchup bottle or salt shaker?

Swiss Army knife or Buck knife?

You must be "in the moment" to make judgments like these; mindful.

Are the binary, forced choices meaningful? The real world always has thousands of things swinging around, not just two. Is there truth in this? Truth?

Our results? We felt more life in the military loupe, the salt shaker, and the Buck knife. Your mileage may vary. This experiment will go up on a wiki soon, and we'll point people in that direction.


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