Sunday, August 10, 2014

Patterns Rising

Dan Rockmore and Simon DeDeo have organized a small meeting on the topic of patterns. It's taking place at Dartmouth this coming Monday and Tuesday. Here are their framing questions:
As primer for our meeting, we thought to set down some questions for consideration. These are hardly exhaustive, but we anticipate that they will be enough to help get us all thinking a little about the topics at hand. While the questions are somewhat abstract in nature, we very much look forward to concrete accounts and vivid examples able to bring the ideas to life.

1. What are the kind of patterns you and your colleagues see or look for in your work and areas of interest? How do you know when you have a pattern?

2. How do you argue with a skeptical colleague that the pattern is there, or convince a credulous one that she's found a red herring? What core debates in your field are about patterns?

3. Are patterns normatively neutral? Are good/interesting/beautiful things more likely to have patterns associated with them, or less?

4. What are the timescales of patterns? Can patterns be found within a single object, a single creator, a single movement, a century, a millennium?

5. Are patterns "in the eye of the beholder", or are they intrinsic to the process itself?

6. Are there ur-patterns, "pattern languages", pattern schema?

7. Are patterns driven by human biological and cognitive abilities, or do they transcend these limits?

8. Must patterns be comprehensible and knowable to the participants? Or can an individual or a culture "unknowingly" follow a pattern of massive complexity?

9. What is the relationship between pattern and (natural) law? Pattern and heuristic? Pattern and coincidence?
H/t Rens Bod via Twitter.

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