Saturday, September 8, 2012


Here is the syllabus for the course I'll provide this fall and winter.


Creative Courses (Skill) - Knowledge Skill
2012 Fall Tuesday 4th Period
Faculty-in-charge: Takashi Iba
Faculty of Policy Management & Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Keio University

[ Course Summary ]

In order to understand the complex, dynamic world around us, such as life and society, we must not limit ourselves in a single intelectual field. When we are able to connect different intellectual fields, we reveal insights and ideas that have never been explored before. In this course, you will study how the different fields: (1) nonlinear science, (2) creative systems, (3) pattern languages, and (4) network science is actually related, and hold the key to understand the reality of the world around us. In the classes, there will be many activities to help deeply understand the subjects and topics of the complex, dynamic world. (This course will be offered in English.)

[ Class Schedule ]

#1 - Introduction
The overview and requirements for this course will be provided.

#2 - Nonlinear Science: Chaos
Subject: Chaos, which is amazing phenomenon where irregular behavior is generated from a simple regular rule.
Activity: Simulate chaos with spreadsheet software, such as Excel or Numbers, in you computer.

#3 - Nonlinear Science: Fractal
Subject: Fractal, which has an interesting feature of self-similarity at different scales.
Activity: Watch the video concerning fractal geometry, think of examples in the world around us, and discuss the implication.

#4 - Nonlinear Science: Chaotic walk workshop
Subject: Patterns hidden in chaos
Activity: Explore the patterns hidden in chaos with using "ChaoticWalker," which is software for generating patterns on a two-dimensional plane with a chaotic map function.

#5 - Creative Systems: Autopoieis Theory 
Subject: Creative process as an autopoietic system, which is the latest systems theory.
Activity: Discuss and write a series of discoveries in a creative process based on the Creative Systems Theory.

#6 - Creative Systems: Brainstorming method
Subject: Divergent thinking in a part of creative process.
Activity: Practice divergent thinking in a brainstorming session.

#7 - Creative Systems: KJ method
Subject: Convergent thinking in a part of creative process.
Activity: Practice convergent thinking in a session with the KJ method.

#8 - Presentation Patterns workshop
Subject: Fundamental idea and applied cases of pattern language, which is a documented wisdom about the rules, methods, tips, and customs of a certain area of expertise.
Activity: Watch the video, and discuss how to make great presentations with using the Presentation Patterns.

#9 - Pattern Language: Pattern writing
Subject: The format of patterns in pattern languages.
Activity: Write a pattern that describes the rules, methods, tips, and customs of a certain area of expertise.

#10 - Pattern Language: Writer's workshop
Subject: The making process of a pattern language.
Activity: Conduct a writer's workshop to improve the patterns you have write.

#11 - Pattern Language: The Nature of Order
Subject: The latest theory by Christopher Alexander, who proposed the idea of pattern languages.
Activity: Discuss the meaning and implication of the concepts proposed in the book, The Nature of Order.

#12 - Network Science: Small-World & Scale-Free Networks
Subject: Network analysis of how the things connect one another in natural, social, and technological worlds.
Activity: Watch the video concerning the network science, and run network simulations in your computer.

#13 - Final Project Presentation
Give a presentation about your final project.

#14 - Final Project Presentation
Give a presentation about your final project.

[ Materials and Reading List ]

All materials that are required for the class will be handed out in the class. The followings are recommended reference.

Nonlinear Science
  • M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity: The Emerging Science At The Edge Of Order And Chaos, Simon & Schuster, 1993
  • James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science, Penguin Books; Revised edition, 2008
  • Benoit B. Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, W. H. Freeman and Company, 1982
  • Stuart Kauffman, At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity, Oxford University Press, 1996
  • Takashi Iba & Kazeto Shimonishi, "The Origin of Diversity: Thinking with Chaotic Walk", Unifying Themes in Complex Systems Volume VIII: Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Complex Systems, Sayama, H., Minai, A. A., Braha, D. and Bar-Yam, Y. eds., NECSI Knowledge Press, Jun., 2011, pp.447-461.
Creative Systems
  • N. Luhmann, Social Systems, Stanford University Press, 1996
  • Takashi Iba, "An Autopoietic Systems Theory for Creativity", Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol.2, Issue 4, 2010, pp.6610-6625
  • Keith Sawyer, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Basic Books, 2008
  • Alex Osborn, Your Creative Power, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948
  • Thomas Kelley, Jonathan Littman, The Art of Innovation: Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way, Profile Business, 2002
Pattern Languages
  • Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building, Oxford University Press, 1979
  • Christopher Alexander, The Production of Houses, Oxford University Press, 1985
  • Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order, Book One, Center for Environmental Structure, 2002
  • Stephen Grabow, Christopher Alexander: The Search for a New Paradigm in Architecture, Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1983
  • Takashi Iba, "Pattern Language 3.0 Methodological Advances in Sharing Design Knowledge," International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks 2011 (COINs2011), Sep., 2011
Network Science
  • Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life, Plume, 2003
  • Duncan J. Watts, Six Degrees: The Science of Connected Age, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004
  • Takashi Iba, Ko Matsuzuka, Daiki Muramatsu, "Editorial Collaboration Networks of Wikipedia Articles in Various Languages," International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks 2011 (COINs2011), Sep., 2011
  • Takashi Iba, "Hidden Order in Chaos: The Network-Analysis Approach To Dynamical Systems", Unifying Themes in Complex Systems Volume VIII: Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Complex Systems, Sayama, H., Minai, A. A., Braha, D. and Bar-Yam, Y. eds., NECSI Knowledge Press, Jun., 2011, pp.769-783

[ Assignments, Examination and Grade Evaluation ]

Grading will be based on class participation, homework, and final project (presentation and report).

[ Special equipment or software to prepare ]

a laptop computer (Mac, Windows, or Linux)

[ Student Selection ]

Only the selected students can take this course.
Number of students in the class (scheduled): About 60
Method and timing of the selection : writing an essay concerning the topics of this course in the first class.

[ Contact ]

Staff: cs2012 [at]

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Re-Thinking Education and Learning with C. Alexander's Latest Theory

I submitted a new paper to the EducationalPatterns workshop, which will be held in Austria this November.Here is an abstract of the paper.

"Making Learning Lively: An Analogical Consideration Inspired by Christopher Alexander’s Theory of Wholeness and Centers" (Takashi Iba, EducationalPatterns Workshop, 2012)
In this paper, I would like to consider how to make learning lively by developing an analogy between architecture and education, inspired by Christopher Alexander’s theory of wholeness and centers, which is proposed in his book, The Nature of Order. The analogy developed in this paper is that a whole that is composed of learning is viewed as a whole in the Alexander’s definition; and that learning that is lively is viewed as a center. In this paper, the following properties that make learning lively is discussed based on the following fifteen fundamental properties proposed by C. Alexander in his book, The Nature of Order: Levels of Scale, Strong Centers, Boundaries, Alternating Repetition, Positive Space, Good Shape, Local Symmetries, Deep Interlock and Ambiguity, Contrast, Gradients, Roughness, Echoes, The Void, Simplicity and Inner Calm, and Not-Separateness. Furthermore, I show the relation between these properties and the patterns of the Learning Patterns, which is a pattern language for creative learning.

This is one of the figure in the paper.  My illustration summarizing the fifteen fundamental properties proposed by Christopher Alexander in his book, The Nature of Order, Book One.

The following is another figure in my paper. It shows my view of learning with the concepts, whole and centers, proposed by C. Alexander.

Reference (in the paper)
  • Alexander, C. (1985) The Production of Houses, Oxford University Press.
  • Alexander, C. (2002a) The Nature of Order, BOOK ONE: The Phenomenon of Life, The Center for Environmental Structure.
  • Alexander, C. (2002b) The Nature of Order, BOOK TWO: The Process of Creating Life, The Center for Environmental Structure.
  • Learning Patterns Project (2009) Learning Patterns: A Pattern Language for Creative Learning, in Japanese, Faculty of Policy Management & Faculty of Environment and Information Science, Keio University.
  • Iba, T., Miyake, T., Naruse, M., and Yotsumoto, N. (2009), “Learning Patterns: A Pattern Language for Active Learners,” in 16th International Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP2009).
  • Iba, T. and Miyake, T. (2010) “Learning Patterns: A Pattern Language for Creative Learning II,” in 1st Asian Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (AsianPLoP2010).
  • Iba, T., “Learning Patterns III: A Pattern Language for Creative Learning,” in 18th international Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP2011), 2011.
  • Learning Patterns Project (2011) Learning Patterns: A Pattern Language for Creative Learning, in The Third International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs2011), 2011

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First Stage Mission Accomplished!

Today, we started off smoothly even though we were missing a few people. Since we have been going through this process for a couple of times, some members seem to have gained endurance and a driving power, visioning the end to labeling the patterns.  

With the motivation to keep moving on, members of the Iba lab maintained their concentration for five consecutive hours.
Although each group finished their tasks in a slight time lag, it was amazing to see that everyone was very satisfied, ending up writing 131 seeds of pattern language! The atmosphere of the lab was joyful and vibrant when we are cleaning up the room after such big accomplishment.

Next week, we will be conducting the KJ method once more in order to make the pattern making process more efficient.


The first Monday of June was just another day.
Still immersed in the feeling of Sunday, most of the members were absentmindedly talking to each other and taking a short break before they had to ignite themselves to take on the tasks.

Soon after, as we teamed up in three groups, each group reviewed their assigned archipelagos and started giving feedback to each other.
Well, this was a great idea of diversifying a heavy workload but the problem was that we were missing a common understanding among the members. Gradually, sharing and adapting our thoughts and ideas, we came up with a common perception of the label name and the reason why the pattern is important.
As the previous session, our professor took on the role to go around the groups to check their progress and give his opinion whenever the groups needed a third opinion.

We have been continuing this process for days and months and some people might ask why not adopt a more efficient  method? To simply answer to your question, this is a process of creation. Because this is a fairly new method, we need to find out a way on our own. If we find out that we cannot move on, we change our approach and explore a new way to keep moving with twists and turns It is the drive to move on and never stop that motivates the members of Iba lab.

After four hours of consecutive work, most of the members were burned-out.
How ever this is the proof that we squeezed out our intellectual thoughts and ideas to the max. We still have a long way to go but we are definitely moving on to the next step.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Syllabus for Iba Lab B2 (Fall 2012) - Exploring Theories, Methods, and Practices for the Creative Society

We welcome GIGA students who don't speak Japanese!

Syllabus for Iba Lab B2 (Fall 2012)

Exploring Theories, Methods, and Practices for the Creative Society

Takashi Iba (Associate Professor at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University)

Important Dates

July 3, 2012: Iba Lab information session (5th hour @ K11)
July 21, 2012: Entry submission deadline
July 26-27, 2012: Interview sessions (dates subject to change)
July 28, 2012: Lab spring presentations

Course Goals and Overview

Our society today is becoming more complex and diverse day by day. Finding a way to design the future with our own hands has become the fundamental problem for us today. To be creative in such a society, we must create our own visions, and design tools and methods to make the vision become a reality.

In our lab, we define a Creative Society as a society where various people design and create new perceptions, new products, new methods, and ultimately the future for ourselves, by ourselves. The lab aims to seize the sprouts of the creative society, imagine its growth, and nurture it through actual practice.

Members of the lab would either work on Personal Projects based on their interest in a certain field, or they can work in one of the Frontier Projects formed by members of the lab.

Examples of Personal Projects include analysis of open collaborations, research on social media, putting creative workshops to practice, analysis of the creative process, creation of tools to support creative processes, building new forms of communication media, or the creation of a pattern language in a new field. Of course, any other topic that you are interested in is welcome.

We are planning on starting the following Frontier Projects.

  • Documentary Filming - Filming, production, and streaming of the world's first documentary film about pattern languages. Those with skills in film editing are welcome.
  • Web Application Development - Launch a new kind of social networking service based on pattern languages. We welcome those with high programming and software development skills. 
  • Global Expansions - Introduce pattern languages and workshops based on them overseas. For all of you out there with high English skills, this is the place for you.
  • Workshop Design - Develop and carry out new forms of workshops using pattern languages. For those interested in creating environments for effective study or creation.
  • Education to Nurture Creativity - Study methods of education that would nurture the creativity of children, and put it into practice. Future teachers and anyone interested in education is welcome.

Upon conducting your project, you must first let go of the knowledge and methods fixed to existing sciences, and commit to the project by reconstructing a new method for a new era of study. To help the process, we will take time to read and discuss books about related topics.

The theme for our lab is Creativity. We are looking for prospective lab members who are willing to commit creatively to the future!

To find out more about our works, visit our lab blog:
The Creative Systems Lab

Course Schedule

  • Progress on each member's project will be shared at lab meetings. In addition, we will read and discuss books, and exercises to polish up skills will be given. 
  • Members are required to work on their projects outside of class time.
  • Sessions are planned on 5th hour Tuesdays.

Course Language

English, Japanese
We welcome GIGA students who don't speak Japanese!

Course Requirements

  • Members are required to take classes held by Professor Iba besides the lab sessions, since skills and knowledge necessary for the lab will be taught there also. Professor Iba will be teaching "Pattern Language" and "Complex Systems Theory" in the Fall semester of 2012. 
  • We are looking for members who are willing to study together with us in a long perspective. Breakthrough in knowledge and skills can be expected through long-term commitment.

Available Seats

Approximately 20

Misc. Information

  • Since members of the lab each have a different field of expertise, knowledge necessary for each member's project must be acquired outside of class.
  • Classes will most likely be extended without notice. We also go for dinner after lab sessions, so please keep your schedule open for the night on days with lab sessions. 
  • You are welcome to take both Iba Lab B1 and B2 in the same semester, or belong to another lab besides the Iba lab at the same time. 
  • Prospective members are asked to attend the Iba Lab Spring Presentation on 7/28/2012 (Sat).
  • Join us on opportunities to go on overseas trips to attend workshops and academic conferences. This year we will be visiting Germany in July and the US in October. 
  • Iba Lab members are required to write their graduation thesis in English.

Entry Assignment

After reading through this syllabus thoroughly, please submit the entry assignment described below via email by Saturday, July 21.

Email to: ilab-entry2012 [at]
Subject: Iba Lab B2 Entry
Please attach your entry assignment in a Word or PDF file.

Iba Lab B2 Entry Assignment

  1. Name, Faculty, Grade, Student ID, login ID
  2. Topic of study you wish to work on in the lab, or the Frontier Project you wish to participate in. Reason for your entry. Your Enthusiasm towards the project.
  3. Other Labs you are planning on belonging to next semester (If any)
  4. Labs you have been a part of (If any)
  5. Favorite classes you've taken so far - Multiple answers are welcome
  6. Courses by Prof. Iba which you have taken before
  7. Any other introduction of yourself. (clubs, activities, interests, future visions, any other points to sell)

* Question 2 should be about 1 page in length.
** You are welcome to use any pictures or diagrams for questions 2 and 7.

The selection interview will be held based on the information given in the entry assignment.


  • Takashi Iba, "An Autopoietic Systems Theory for Creativity", Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol.2, Issue 4, 2010, pp.6610-6625
  • Daniel H. Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Riverhead Trade, 2006
  • Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Portfolio Trade, Expanded ed., 2010
  • Peter Gloor, Coolfarming: Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing, AMACOM, 2010
  • Keith Sawyer, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Basic Books, 2008 
  • Thomas Kelley, Jonathan Littman, The Art of Innovation: Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way, Profile Business, 2002

  • Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World, Cornell University Press, 1984
  • Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, The University of Chicago Press, 2000
  • N. Luhmann, Social Systems, Stanford University Press, 1996
  • Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, The University of Chicago Press, 1962
  • Freeman Dyson, Imagined Worlds, Harvard University Press, 1997
  • Peter M. Senge, et. al., Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, Crown Business, Reprint ed., 2008
  • C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges: The Social Technology of Presencing, Berrett-Koehler Pub, 2009

  • Stephen Grabow, Christopher Alexander: The Search for a New Paradigm in Architecture, Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1983 
  • M. Lynn Manns, L. Rising, Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas, Addison-Wesley, 2004
  • Learning Patterns Project, Learning Patterns: A Pattern Language for Creative Learning, 2011
  • Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order, Book 1-4, Center for Environmental Structure, 2001-
  • Jenny Quillien, Delight's Muse on Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order: A Summary and Personal Interpretation, Lulu.Com, 2008

  • George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, The University of Chicago Press, 1980
  • "Deduction, Induction, and Hypothesis" (Charles Sanders Peirce, The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings VOLUME 1 (1867-1893), Indiana University Press, 1992) p.186-199
  • Hayao Miyazaki, Starting Point 1979-1996, VIZ media, 2009
  • Haruki Murakami, What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir, Vintage Books, 2009
  • B. Minto, The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking, 3rd Revised ed, Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2008

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pattern Language: Media for Overcoming Double Contingency

Last class, the students in Social Systems Theory class learned scenario planning, which is media for communicating in communities or organizations based on future plans.
On the other hand, Prof. Iba introduced pattern language as media for verbalizing the tacit knowledge and sharing it among people in an organization in order to take over double contingent situations.

He explained what pattern language is, and how we write pattern language with recent examples in our laboratory.

The example was English pattern writing pattern which he discovered recently on the generative beauty project. We firstly wrote the pattern in Japanese, yet we needed to write the patterns in English in order to submit the paper for the international conference.
On that process, we tend to have difficulties with writing patterns in English, the process does not go smoothly. Then, Prof. Iba realized that we need to learn vocabularies related to topics of the patterns, in this case beauty, so he bought variety of books about cosmetic, fashion and beauty written in English. His intention of it was to write patterns while learning vocabularies and phrases at the same time.

Even though he shared this knowledge with the current members on the project, he will need to explain that consecutively when he encounters the same situations on the different occasions or people. Therefore, it is effective to organize and write this knowledge in order to make easier to tell it to other people.

Then, he decided to write the pattern on that. Basically, pattern language consists of three main parts: context, problem, and solution.
Pattern Name: Writing with Learning
Context: You write in English, which is not your mother tongue.
Problem: Because you have no idea how you should write ideas in proper and comprehensive English, you cannot write patterns smoothly.
Solution: Write patterns with learning and referencing vocabularies and phrased related to the topic of the pattern that you are writing.

The reason why we give names to each pattern is to make us remember the contents of the pattern easily, and help our communication on the topic as a vocabulary.

In other words, Christopher Alexander, an architect who established the concept of pattern language, explains in The Production of Houses that pattern language is a language for writing design knowledge including problem finding and problem solving.

After the lecture, students have Q&A session about pattern language for deeper understanding on that. Although they acquired better understanding on it, they have never talked with patterns.

So, we are having the workshop on patterns in Fearless Change, and having dialogues based on their experiences with vocabularies in the book.

C. Alexander, The Production of Houses, Oxford University Press, 1985
M. Manns & L. Rising, Fearless Change, Addison-Wesley, 2005

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box

How did social science evolve into such a field? And what will it evolve into from now on? On May 29th, we discussed around these subjects, based on Open the Social Sciences: Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences by Immanuel Wallerstein, and Dejitaru Media Jidai ni Okeru "Chi no Genri" wo saguru [The Principles of Intellect in the Digital Media Era] by Teruo Inoue and Michio Umegaki.

Every day, Economics, Biology, Computer science, and all other fields are cultivated, their boundaries stretched, by experts in each field. These experts cultivate these fields based off of the rich intellect which have been cultivated for many decades and centuries by countless experts in the past. And the discoveries are continuously added on as new intellect, subsequently creating a rich discipline. But these disciplines are usually closed; having very little relations amongst each other. It is significant that we see, and cultivate the inter-discipline, and trans-discipline.

For example, lets take the complex systems theory. Before it was a field, scientists and mathematicians, many of them having very rich knowledge concerning their own fields, hit problems they could not understand, even with their valuable discipline they cherish. Then the complex systems theory gave completely new insights in which connected, and discovered what hid between the closed disciplines. This is what we define now as the inter-discipline, and as a whole: trans-discipline.

Yet objectivity became a major problem in creating this trans-disciplinary field. Although social scientists valued objectivity in their research, what they defined as “objective” was dependant on who believed it was objective, hence technically becoming subjective. That is why social science should not value objectivity, but rather inter-subjective judgment. All disciplinary fields are dynamic, and the technically “subjective” observations create what becomes a discipline. As time goes by, new subjective observations add on, and change the inter- and ultimately trans- disciplinary field. We believe this inter- and trans-disciplinary field is the essence of research in SFC.

A professor in SFC was formerly a psychiatrist and a consultant for students, now teaches, and researches concerning communications with another person, its characteristics, etc. SFC encourages this sort of “crossing over” fields, and thinking outside the box. These opportunities allow students and professors to explore many different fields, cultivating the inter- and ultimately the trans-disciplinary field which has not been recognized before.

Interestingly however, some in our discussion argued that because SFC encourages this “crossing-over” so much, that some lack too much knowledge, and discipline. This notion is significant, and we must never forget the value of how each discipline developed its intellect through the centuries. In order to step outside of the discipline, it is critical to study the history of the discipline, otherwise it is impossible to discover any new insights. But at the same time, this is why even undergraduates in SFC have the potential to cultivate the frontiers of intellect.

For the second part of the class, we watched how SFC came forth, from the significance of inter-discipline and trans-discipline. While Keio University, and all other universities in Japan had faculties that studied fields which have been researched for centuries, Tadao Ishikawa, former President of Keio University proposed the necessity of a new field that can cultivate what existing fields could not see. This revolutionary attempt that valued inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary fields subsequently created the Faculty of Policy Management, and the Faculty of Environmental Studies, and SFC. 


Immanuel Wallerstein, Open the social Sciences: Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences, Stanford University Press, 1996

 Teruo Inoue and Michio Umegaki, Dejitaru Media Jidai ni Okeru "Chi no Genri" wo saguru [The Principles of Intellect in the Digital Media Era],Yuhikaku Publishing Co. Ltd., 1998

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Web of Patterns

Using the KJ method, we continued grouping up some of the patterns.
Since we had too many sticky notes to deal with, we had to remove our desks of our lab and spread the sheet on the floor so that we could oversee the whole aspects.
Knowing that we had to finish the task by tonight was hard to nerve-wracking with the sheet filling up the entire lab.

Walking through the seeds of patterns, we tried to identify which pattern is close to each other. Overwhelmed by the immense amount of patterns, our members had a tough time with the task. Some sitting on the floor absentminded, others walking around trying to come up with a good idea.

However, such situation was the best time to use our creativity and breakthrough difficulties. Once one of the members began choosing specific patterns, others also was able to start moving their handsto pick up some patterns.
Finding a new way whenever your lost and disregarding the old fashion way is one of our important element to be creative. 

Even though we spent more than 5 hours to finish the KJ method, we still couldn't finish putting together the patterns. Some members had tiredness on their faces after cudgeling their brains to the utmost. But on the bright side, we were able to find some connections among the patterns, making a web of patters.

We will (try) finishing our task net week. We truly hope that we can finish the hardest part in the process of pattern making.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Scenario Planning

Scenario Planning is introduced in The Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz.
“The book in your hands presents the arts of “taking the long view” of decisions that need to be made today.”

This method is used for designing strategic conversations leading to continuous organizational learning about key decisions.
Furthermore, planning’s are a tool for helping us to take a long view in a world of great uncertainty – scenario planning is necessary since future is uncertain. 

Prof. Iba explained the concepts with the familiar topic to students, which we postponed the school festival last year due to the storm. All performances were cancelled and stands were closed – it was miserable for everyone, students, teachers and guests.
He told the students his concern that the administrator could expect bad weather bothering us to implement our plan.

In the scenario planning, when we are able to expect the possibility of external factors and signs that prevent us from implementation, it helps us recognize and adapt to changing aspects of our present environment.

Today, the class was more engaging than usual. Students had an hour workshop experience scenario planning.

Approximately 60 students formed groups of 4 and began with self-introduction. They lively chatted about what they study and what kind of community they belong to and so on.

Prof Iba told the question,
“On your life, what kind of environmental factors might be happening beside your intention and actions?”
The objective of the question is to consider what kind of uncertainty we might encounter.

Second, students picked up 2 factors that they think critical or crucial for their lives or their plans in their future. Popular topics were environmental destructions, earthquakes, conflicts on nuclear power plants, and an aging society.

Third, students are assigned to draw four quadrants and plot those 2 factors.
Then, they come up with the scenarios on those 4 quadrants, and gave the names on each scenario.

Finally, they are assigned to think about preparations, strategies and warning signs.

Prof. Iba came up with the idea of this class from the experience on the school festival last year. Students’ faces lit up because they realize what they study in class are related to their lives.

At the end, he revealed his intention why scenario planning in Social System theory. Scenario planning encourages not only taking about strategies and leaning in organizations, but also bringing people from variety of areas and creating collaborations.

In addition, communication, the center element in Social Systems Theory, are generated by scenario planning, which taking about the future.

P. Schwartz, The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, Crown Business, 1996

Monday, May 28, 2012

How Intellect is Revolutionized

Sometimes existing theories and comprehension change drastically. Some call this phenomenon a paradigm shift. Thomas Kuhn, a philosopher of science studied revolutionary change(s) in science, and clarified what happens when a paradigm shift occurs. Last Tuesday we had our discussion concerning this paradigm shift, based on The Structure of Scientific Revolution by Thomas Kuhn, and Imagine Worlds by Freeman Dyson.

An important notion in The Structure of Scientific Revolution is that a paradigm shift is born from not necessarily the accumulating new facts that have never been tested before, but from the reconstruction of existing concepts. For instance Niklas Luhmann identifies does not change the word: communication in his Social Systems Theory although his definition of it is much more emphasized and detailed than the usual definition. Luhmann did not create something nonexistent, but changed existent intellectual circumstances.

Like so, a paradigm shift is the reconstruction or the reexamination of the current intellect. That is why a scientific revolution did not only occur in the Copernican Revolution in the 16th and the 17th century, but has been occurring continuously as long as science was existent. We tend think that what is written in science textbooks are unarguable, but in reality, scientific research had, and currently has, many inconsistencies. These inconsistencies leave possibilities of what can become paradigm shifts.

So our question was: is paradigm shift a progression, or an evolution? We define progression as an improvement, where positive feedback occurs. On the other hand, evolution has more of a “conversion” nuance, where the change may not always be for the greater good. It is definite that many paradigm shifts occur, but we have yet to know if they are either improvements, or just mere conversion, or change. What do you think?

The next notion we focused on was as Kuhn suggests, and as history suggests, paradigm shifts, or scientific revolutions are triggered not usually by experienced “experts” in each field, but surprisingly by new comers that have little recognition. This is because the new comers approach existing intellect, which have become traditional to experts, from their philosophies of science. Because new comers do not use traditional approaches, they are more capable of finding holes in common theory, causing paradigm shifts, compared to the bug-fixing-like frontier research experts do.
Finally, we discussed on how to drive our research in SFC as new comers in each field. As all students taking this course are undergraduates, we have very limited time in order to produce new insights in science, design, etc. For new comers like us, while we cannot revolutionize preexisting intellect, we can change the tools to give new insights. For example, when using the microscope, we see new, different insights and data not because we changed the subject we see, but because we changed how we saw it. This is the significance to letting us, undergraduates become researchers, innovate the intellectual frontier.


For the second part of the class, we studied Deb Roy in his famous presentation: The birth of a word, in order to see ways to how to see preexisting data from a completely new perspective, and innovate the intellectual frontier. Roy saw the usual family life in a house, and how the baby learned and acquired words by taking the world’s longest home-video ever, and tracking every word and every movement of every person. Although we may not have the ability or the resources to do something as creative as Deb Roy, this presentation gave us great implication for our research.

We also viewed some more videos students have filmed and edited. Keep in mind that most of them experienced editing and filming videos for the first time. We hope this experience gives us insights on new ways to view preexisting subjects.


Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, University of Chicago Press, 1962

Freeman Dyson, Imagined Worlds, Harvard University Press, 1997

What are Metaphors, and How do We use them?

When trying to understand something indefinite, we frequently use metaphors. For instance, life can be understood as a journey, or a debate as a fight. This method to understand subjects through metaphors are said to be key in cognition. Furthermore, using metaphors plays a critical role in the constructive way of understanding. 

On May 15th, we discussed the rhetoric of the use of metaphors, based off of Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: a Memoir by Haruki Murakami.

First things first, what is a metaphor? Like I said in the above, it is a method to describe something indefinite, such as life can be understood as a journey, or a debate can be understood as a fight. However, the use of metaphors is actually much deeper than just describing things with another word.

When applying a metaphor, we think of analogies – pairing together two words that seem similar depending on the characteristics. Yet like the word: “journey” is only similar, and not exact to the word: “life,” no two subjects are exactly the same, and when using an analogy to pair them together, there will always be affirmative analogies and negative analogies. 

And this phenomenon happens more often than we think. The word “discover” describes the state of something being new coming forth- in just one word. That is why the word comes from the word: “cover,” meaning that something is hidden, uncovered, and its prefix: “dis,” meaning the negative of something. Thus, in a sense, the word “discover” is only a metaphor of the actual action. That is why the significance of using a metaphor is similar to translating; to perceive and understand the true essences of words, which is impossible when just looking up the dictionary.

So how well can Japanese people use metaphors? The Japanese language consists of two different kinds of characters: Hiragana, and Kanji. While Hiragana is a character relatively native to Japan, Kanji is imported from China. The role of the Kanji was to substitute several characters of Hiragana into one character of Kanji, making sentences shorter, and many times easier to read. However this substitution of Hiragana with Kanji might have limited some expressions, for instance: two words with different meanings but with the same Hiragana might have been substituted with the same Kanji. 

On the other hand, Japanese is a very symbolic language. Kabuki, a classical Japanese dance-drama, heavily emphasizes the meaning and essences of each word in lyrics and script. Like so in Haiku and Tanka(Japanese poems), where people attempted to describe their indescribable feelings within few words and rhythms, the powers of words and their metaphorical uses have been heavily emphasized in the Japanese language. We could still see this today, for instance students applying for universities stay away from the word “slip” (symbolizing not receiving acceptance). In addition, depending on where they are written, people purposely write words usually written in Kanji to Hiragana, or vice-versa. 

Like so, many of our activities are metaphorical in nature. The many things that we do, what we see, what we hear, what we feel, are dictated by how we understand them, as words. This means that the conceptual systems in people’s minds are created by metaphors, and that new metaphors have the ability to give new insights to the present conceptual system.

And this creation of a bridge between subjective metaphors and objective existing conceptual systems that brings new paradigms. For example, Learning Patterns is a collection of metaphors, because each pattern takes a subjective way of learning into an objective “successful learning.” And it is through these metaphors that we may perceive something that an existing subject from a new perspective. That is why the use of metaphors is significant in our research, and in the constructive way of understanding.

For the second part of the class, students finally presented the vidoes they have filmed, and edited. It seems everyone zoomed in, flipped pictures, added music, changed angles, into their own constructive way of understanding. One student in particular saw a common Japanese snack into something a little different, and much more interesting. 

Here’s the video:


Next, we will discuss how paradigm shifts happen, and look deeper into how they relate to the constructive way of understanding.

George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, The University of Chicago Press, 1980

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir, Vintage Books, 2009

Abduction: The Third Type of Logical Thinking

When we think “logically,” many of us use induction and deduction. Whether the conclusion comes from the general principle or specific examples, we usually depend on principles, or what we observe. But there is another approach, where a constructive hypothesis is applied, called abduction.

On May 8th, we discussed the significances and how we apply abduction, based off of Yuji Yonemori’s Abduction: Kasetu to Hakken no Ronnri [The Logic of Hypothesis and Discovery].

Here are examples by Charles Sanders Pierce:

  1. All beans from this bag are white.(principle)
  2. These beans are from this bag.(case)
  3. These beans are white.(result)

  1. These beans are (randomly selected) from this bag.(case)
  2. These beans are white.(result)
  3. All the beans from this bag are white.(principle)

  1. All the beans from this bag are white.(principle)
  2. These beans are (oddly) white. (result)
  3. These beans are from this bag. (case)

As you can see, the case of the abduction is based off of a constructive hypothesis; it assumes the odd relationship between the beans and the bag.

The constructive way of understanding is similar. The constructive way of understanding is finding what the hidden rules (principle) behind an odd phenomenon (result) are by various methods (case.) It approaches the “oddness” of a phenomenon that is yet to be discovered, from a different paradigm. 

For example, during the process of creating pattern language, the writer must often abductively hypothesize what the solution(s) is in a given context and problems, because there is no definite principle or case that can be applied.

As so during the KJ method, one must abductively perceive the true attributes of 2 different experiences, in order to form groups. For example, while creating the Collaboration Patterns, “Respond to emails quickly” and “Exchanging emails is important” should not be grouped because they concern emails. When abduction is applied, “Respond to emails quickly” should rather be grouped with “feedbacks should be given constantly and immediately,” because they both concern the significance of responding and not so much about a communication software. 

We believe research in Keio University SFC requires thinking abductively. The essence of researching SFC is how to perceive what has been observed already from another perspective. As noted in the complex systems theory, in our complex society, it is critical not to focus on only one perspective; one must see the relationships between seemingly different fields. And to do so, one must not limit oneself to induction or deduction (because it has already been done) but apply abduction effectively.

For the second part of the class, we continued with the week before, and each student started creating their own videos. Each student brought in videos, pictures, music, and started creating their own, original video.

Contrary to the week before, where every student had the same videos to edit from, we could already see the diversity of creations, and their constructive way of understanding. Next, we will show the final products of some of the students, made from pure constructive understanding.


Yuji Yonemori, Abduction: Kasetu to Hakken no Ronnri [The Logic of Hypothesis and Discovery], Keisoshobo Pubshiling Co., 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Hirschman in Social Systems Theory?

After Prof. Iba lectured on structural coupling in Social Systems by Nilkas Luhmann, he shifted the topic to “Voice and Exit.” Its concept was proposed by Albert O. Hirschman, an influential economist, in Exit, Voice, and Loyalty in 1970.

Voice and Exit are two options to change a complained situation. Hirschman explains, “Management then finds out about its failings via two alternative route.”

Prof. Iba continued teaching the detailed concepts with familiar examples.
Exit is an option to leave without saying anything; therefore, people need to think about reasons why the person left. For instance, a member in the lab left without say any reason or complain, it means that he or she takes exit option.

Hirschman uses another example to encourage us to understand it.
“Some customers stop buying the firm’s products or some members: this is the exit option. As a result, revenues drop, membership declines, and management is impelled to search for ways means to correct whatever faults have led to exit.”

On the other hand, Voice is the other option to express their dissatisfaction directly. Prof. Iba used the example that a member in the lab says his or her concerns or motivation, and leaves. In this case, he or she chooses voice option.

Compared to Exit, Voice likely leads direct and immediate solutions. Moreover, he emphasized that voice has more clear intentions or objectives to change the situation.
In the meantime, he also expressed that we need to understand both of voice and exit in the interdisciplinary fields even thought most cases are dominant over one of them.

As usual, students had an opportunity to deepen their understands on contents through dialogues with other students. In the class, they discussed what the concepts of Voice and Exit are with their familiar topics.

Prof. Iba kept introducing another idea, Loyalty, with quotes from Hirschman.
“As a rule, then, loyalty holds exit at bay and activates voice.”
“As a rule of loyalty, these potentially most influential customers and members will stay longer than they would ordinarily, reasoned expectation that improvement or reform can be achieved “from within.” ”

Students’ faces looked puzzled because they have no idea how those ideas are related to Social Systems Theory.

At the end, Hirschman emphasized that those “actions” leads to change organizations and the society. However, Prof. Iba believes that “communication” is the key to change society, therefore, he brought the point that we redefine Hirschman’s theory as “communication” theory. For instance, we can ask ourselves how it is possible to cause the chain of Voice communication, even though Voice communication is hardly generated consecutively.

- Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States, Harvard University Press, 1970

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The KJ Method: A Puzzle without Borders (Collaboration Patterns Project #4)

Restarting on an unfinished jigsaw puzzle is never an easy thing to do. You have pieces connected here and there,  but the whole picture is not yet visible. Many singles and pairs are spread across the table, and you can't quite remember where you were when you left off. 

Members of the Iba lab returned from their spring break Monday afternoon to find the post-it notes spread across the table just the way they left it a week ago. Looking at the groups and pairs that had already formed, they could remember bits and pieces of things they talked about last week, but they noticed that it would take another while before they could catch up. By the end of last week's session, everyone had a visual map in their minds of where each note was, and knew where to search for when looking for a specific note. All of that had gone away.

The first hour passed by without much progression. Maybe it being the Monday after break had a role in it; members sat around the table for a short break, already looking somewhat tired. The original plan to finish the KJ method by the end of the day seemed somewhat hopeless.

To break out of the laziness and get things going, one of the juniors suggested that they each talk about the best part of their sprig breaks. The talks itself were nothing more than stories about family trips or dates with their boyfriends, but the laughs and awes warmed up the atmosphere. They also decided that frequent breaks weren't helpful but distracted their concentration.

Pulling themselves back together, they started on round two of the day's session. With their minds more clear, the post-it notes were paired one by one. The important thing to keep in mind is that the notes must be talked about in terms of pairs. Mini islands of clustered notes with similar attributes were starting to appear, which tempted them to connect individual notes to a group of notes. But this would defeat the purpose of the KJ method since the whole point here is to seek for individual connections between two notes to mine out hidden attributes. 

It was somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces must be inspected one by one and become connected to another piece. In the process, it is the connection between two pieces that is inspected, and not between a single piece and a group of pieces. But the process is not as simple as a jigsaw puzzle since there are no corner or edge pieces that make up the border,  which is usually a good place to start connecting the pieces. We do not know how large the completed puzzle would be. Also, the picture of the whole when completed is unknown. We do not know where the process is taking us, which is much the point of this process.

Ungrouping, regrouping, and grouping of groups occurred as notes went here and there on the table. Deep talks were made for each note, and the members started to regain their memories from last week. They also realized the importance of all members being present at the table. Last week when one of the members were absent, there were many notes by the person that could not be grouped since the group couldn't remember what the note exactly meant. Now that the person was back, the real meanings of the notes could be talked about. 

The night had grown late and the bigger picture started to appear on the table. As pairs were made, more islands of notes started to become visible. The group took a moment to lightly pencil in lines around the islands that had formed. They also agreed to move solo notes that were not paired yet out of the way so they could be inspected more closely. 

Now in a state of flow, the single notes too began to be paired up. Notes that were decided by the group as having no matching pair were determined to have a message of its own and was circled by pencil as a loner. With a final home stretch, the last note was placed next to its pair. As if the last piece of a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle had been fitted into its place, the group burst into cheers. 

According to the original plan they were now to consider which islands had similar elements and pair them up, but the lab decided to call it a day. Next week they would cut out the islands from the large paper, and go through an KJ method in terms of the groups.