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Feeling, Form, and Function

Seed idea: What can a building a physical space with Christopher Alexander's methods teach us about design? With reflections from a real project, evaluating a drawing vs. standing in the real thing, and questioning the difference between form and function.

Fundierung and the Level of Life

Seed idea: Can we use Husserl's notion of "fundierung" to deal with Christopher Alexander's definition of "living structure"? With connections to affordances, Kauffman's screwdriver, and three levels of software: the backend layer, the interaction layer, and the "life" layer.

Iterating the Form/Context Boundary

Seed idea: The form/context boundary gives us requirements for an initial design. How do we apply this iteratively to eliminate unknowns as we go? With a case study from an app for analyzing interview data. Plus point forecasts vs. system properties, and reviving Christopher Alexander in the software world.

Movement in Market Space

Seed idea: Can we formally define the space of a market to describe the movement of a product's position? With connections to jobs to be done and examples of Basecamp's jobs.

Design as a Multi-Scale Network, Risk as Network Structure

Seed idea: Can modeling a design project as a network provide underpinnings to better estimate risk and sequence problem solving? With connections to multi-scale systems, Alexander's idea of an unfolding process, and thin vs. fat-tailed variables.

System Design, Pattern Languages, and Cognitive Grammar

Seed idea: If Alexander's work tells us a design is a language, can we use linguistics to better understand it? With connections to system design, pattern languages, and Ronald Langacker's Cognitive Grammar.

Walls in Space and Time, System vs. Parameter Design

Seed idea: Can we distill common elements from Shape Up, Taguchi Methods, and Christopher Alexander's work by defining constraints in space and time? With examples from designing Basecamp 4 and cooking an omelette.

Scale Tradeoffs and Transformations

Seed idea: Can scale tradeoffs show us when to apply bottom-up vs. top-down design strategies? With connections to writing, team communication, and new product development.

Risk, Possibilities, Opacity and Creativity

Seed idea: Can we use the concept of opacity to describe both (a) uncertainty that poses risks and (b) unknowns we deliberately construct for creative latitude? With connections to phenomenology, project definition, and evolution into the adjacent possible.

Affordances, Category Theory, Convexity of Social Media

Seed idea: Can category theory help us frame how things that are different, but that perform the same function, are somehow “the same.” With links to affordances, cross-category competition, and jobs to be done. Plus thoughts on the trade-offs between data ownership and convexity effects on social media.