Some of you will be familiar with the idea of design patterns. For those who aren't, design patterns are just the simple idea of identifying general, reusable solutions to common problems. Patterns originated in architecture, but are widely used in software, both for user interface (UI) design and for programming. Patterns are great because they're efficient; there's no need for a bunch of people to waste time, money and resources reinventing the wheel (the wheel is probably a pattern :) ). Alongside patterns are the idea of anti-patterns: these are designs which are known to embody flaws, failures or fallacies. So we have patterns and anti-patterns, but Sam Menter recently sent me an interesting link about another form of pattern: dark patterns.
"Dark Patterns are interface design patterns that have been designed to trick users into doing things they wouldn't otherwise have done."
Dark patterns can deliver great conversion rates - but for all the wrong reasons. They're basically low-level evil, they destroy trust between you and your users, and are Generally a Bad Idea. They have no place in digital democracy, and should be recognised and avoided :D This got me thinking about patterns in digital democracy. Different types of consultation and participation are basically patterns, and so is the way we work. Facetiously, those who work in central government might recognise a certain 'everything-changes-due-to-ministerial-request-the-day-before-we-go-live' pattern :D More seriously we might be able to identify patterns, anti-patterns, and dark patterns. What patterns have you seen?