Elements of inquiry
Preliminary ideas - Abstract of my paper (Helene) as placeholder to reprocess

Developing an inquiry model: the questions asked

The development of the pattern language would be ongoing, built on an inquiry model based on observations of what is emerging on the field with an aspiration to systemic change in all clusters of engagement logic. It will be presented at the WOW5 conference where we will connect with other groups and research projects in order to set this in motion.

The inquiry model examines the environment of a change context, the goals and missions of the initiatives themselves, the languages used, and the mechanisms and powers at play. It is a first draft to serve as a start point for discussions.

On the Environment

The following questions can help each niche initiative make sense of the trends, of what is emerging in the environment, which audiences would need to be pursued in priority and leverage the most salient elements of it. This can help bring together a map of transformative action.

  • Cultural: What existing shared values and visions are already moving in this direction? Where are the 'pockets' of opportunity?
  • Psychological: How do mindsets, worldviews and preferences (or engagement and action logics) influence the process and the outcomes?

  • Systemic: What existing structures and systems have the most power, influence, authority to help bring our goals about?

  • Behavioral: Which individual actions are already showing the way? What are the drivers and challenges of our audiences?


On the change initiatives, mission and goals 

This section of the inquiry would enable to map the various initiatives on the ground, their relationships to the commons and the risks and challenges they face:   

  • Engagement & Action logic: What are the types of engagement and action logics driving this change initiative or behavior? What is its goal and vision? What type of behavior, leverage point is it seeking to intervene on? What is the margin of manoeuver? How far from a tipping point? ‘Degrees of separation’ between the current ‘business as usual’ state and a new state?
  • Commons logic: How does this change initiative or behavior relate to the commons and commons principles, what is the commons logic in it? Which piece of the commons does it protect, nurture, (re)generate? Using which types of mechanisms, generative processes? How congruent is it with a commons logic?     
  • Risks: What are the limits and risks associated with this initiative or domain of intervention? In which circumstances could the envisioned beneficial initiative become detrimental to the commons within its own boundaries, and to exterior commons?  What are the trade-offs to be aware of? How could the initiative be coopted or neutralized? 
  • Provisions: What are the ‘remedies’ to the above? What changes could be applied to be more protective and generative of commons? What principles and provisions could be established to make sure the limits are known and paid attention to?     
  • Effectiveness: How can the commons logic help frame and advance the agenda of this particular domain of intervention to make the action more effective?
  • Relationships: What other initiatives, approaches, and domains of intervention is this particular one related to?

On the language

In particular, as far as language or vocabulary are concerned (and vocabulary twist has been an issue in discussion among commons activists), solutions associated terminology could be submitted to the following heuristics:

  • What type of alternative/solution is this pattern, term or concept associated with? What issues is it meant to solve. 

  • What are the elements/interpretations that go against the commons logic: In which conditions can the term be detrimental to the commons logic/not acceptable – How/why would it prevent the issues to be solved – How  could the term serve corrupt goals if its application is not associated  to the right mechanisms (anti-pattern) – What should anyone using these  terms to 'advance' sustainable goals should beware of and check  (privatization, creation of a market, extraction for profit, reduction  of access, etc… elements that go against the commons logic) 

  • What are the elements/interpretations that work in favor of the commons logic: In which conditions is the term beneficial to the commons logic/acceptable – How would it help solve the issues – How could this particular term serve the commons logic even better (patterns,  mechanisms). What are the things to look for, examine. (reduction of exploitation/extraction/abuse, and or participatory governance etc). 

  • What associated terms/patterns can help address the issue more effectively in a commons logic.


On the mechanisms, processes, powers at play, interactions

The inquiry would orient people toward combining elements of solution and structures generative of commons the most relevant to their context and action logic, and guide them through the process, answering questions such as:

  • Within my own context, how can I assess the ‘generative potential’ and participatory nature of a given activity and my margin of maneuver to propose and implement change?

  • Within a given activity, what generative processes and structures would we need to set up, which of them would we need to change to generate a greater ‘generative’ outcome/impact. How can the message be effectively conveyed?

  • How could I reorient my work towards something meaningful? If I am looking to make a certain type of impact, which activities and processes would be the most suited for my group, and the context I’m in?

  • What possibilities are available to me immediately, in the middle term, in the long term?

  • We are a group of change agents, activists, NGOs, organizations seeking to collaborate. How can we identify the type of generative outcome we each contribute, how can our activities nurture each other, what is missing for our individual and collective action to be more generative?

  • We are a group of stakeholders with conflicting interests, or we are negotiating commons friendly or sustainable policy. How can we assess and compare the participatory and generative potential of various options? How can we design our proposals to minimize risks of co-option?

An Open Source Pattern Language (re)generative of Commons »An Open Source Pattern Language (re)generative of Commons
Theoretical and methodological background »Theoretical and methodological background
Structuring the Pattern Language - Levels and variables to consider »Structuring the Pattern Language - Levels and variables to consider
Elements of inquiry
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