18th February 2012: Design Patterns & Counter-Terrorism Studies

Design Patterns


UX designer Barry Saunders writes:


It occurred to me that unless you’re maintaining a massive software project or training new designers, maintaining a pattern library and keeping track of copious UX design resources is often just busywork. That material is more useful when it’s in your subconscious, not in your documents folder.


I first encountered the design patterns literature in 2006 whilst researching agile software development for the Smart Internet Technology CRC. Some of this work informed an internally circulated analysis (PDF) of Clayton Christensen‘s disruptive innovation framework. I did Scrum training, interviewed a few experts, and read Christopher Alexander, Gregory Bateson, and Ward Cunningham on pattern languages. The CRC never published any of this work.


At the time, I was thinking about doing a PhD in counter-terrorism studies at Monash University. I had an initial chat with Pete Lentini about using pattern languages to model the common strategies in the counter-terrorism literature. I could see how the design patterns could be reused in teaching and intelligence analysis. I spent part of 2007-08 identifying about 60 patterns in the literature (sample patterns: backchannel; deep politics; forbidden knowledge; private universe; Tower of Babel); writing a design patterns template for a repository; and wrote a ‘draft zero’ of 152,000 words (a loose, fragmented collection of notes).


It soon dawned on me that this was potentially a massive project with loads of reading and a repository that itself would be the length of a normal PhD dissertation. I shelved the patterns repository project in 2010 and re-scoped the PhD around strategic culture (proposal PDF). I might revisit the project once I have early career researcher status.