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Pattern: Embedding fixity within variability

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Part of a 5-fold Pattern Language.
Subsequently published in Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1986)

Pattern template

When it is necessary to ensure a degree of fixity within a domain of variability, it is an advantage to embed a multiplicity of separated smaller domains of fixity in the space such as to safeguard the contextual variability. This is to be contrasted with the use of a single continuous surface which destroys the characteristics of the variable domain.

Physical Use of paving with ample cracks between the stones permits grasses and mosses to grow there, thus preserving a delicate ecology of insect life and allowing rainwater to drain directly into the earth. In contrast to continuous asphalt and concrete surfaces, such paving settles without cracking and is agreeable to walk on.

Social Any set of rules, regulations, and procedures can usefully be organized in such a way that there is a certain amount of flexibility or "play" between them so as not to totally inhibit the informal life of the group. This is to be contrasted with an alienating set of rules which interlock so completely that everything is prohibited unless it is explicitly permitted. Such a set does not adjust well to the passage of time.

Conceptual A set of conceptual tools functions most effectively when each can adapt to the circumstances for which it is most appropriate. This is to be contrasted with a totally integrated set of methods which fails to allow for more complex, unpredictable phenomena to which it is insensitive and for which it is inadequate.

Psychic In formulating a set of personal rules it is useful to leave a certain amount of "play" between them. Any attempt to subject all processes to such a set of rules inhibits vital processes to which rules are insensitive, possibly to the detriment of psychic health or richness.

Broader Grounded structures; Focus-oriented communication networks; Hospitability of communication pathways; Communication pathways enfolded by non-linearity; Maintaining distinctions between contextual levels; Hospitable non-linear domain external to structures; Linear relationships enhanced by non-linear processes; Relative isolation of structural interface with communication pathway.

Narrower Time binding.

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