Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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The 1991 edition of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential presented descriptions of 88 metaphors elaborated as an editorial experiment in facilitating comprehension of transition and change, especially in some ordered manner between complementary alternatives. The phenomena selected as substrates for the metaphors include: those familiar to everybody (eg walking, breathing), those especially significant to rural communities (eg crop-rotation, getting water, animal movement), those familiar to industrialized societies (eg driving, media diets, vitamins) and some key physical or technological phenomena (eg electric motors, metabolic pathways, magnetic containment of plasma). Access to the database containing these profiles is available here.

Earlier editions of the Encyclopedia have used the Chinese Book of Changes as a template for the generation of metaphors traditionally central to the philosophy of governance, relevant to networking (1986) and policy-cycles (1991). The experiment is applied to: dialogue, vision, transformative conferencing, policy-cycles, networking, sustainable community and sustainable lifestyles. See Transformation Metaphors to view these profiles on an external website.

The pattern language work of Christopher Alexander suggests the possibility that the physical pattern he explores of relevance to architecture and urban planning may be of relevance as templates to organization at the social, conceptual and psychic levels. Of his 253 patterns, 66 have been explored in this way, and can be viewed through the UIA free databases here. The Alexander approach is also discussed in more detail at Governance Through Metaphor Project: commentaries.