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Wednesday
Aug292007

User-centred permaculture

This month I've been a little bad on the spending money front. Normally (owing to part-time student status and correspondingly low wages) I try not to buy too much stuff, but we got a little bit of a bonus this month and that seems to have been all the trigger I needed for a bit of a blow-out. So along with the new bike shoes and a nice replacement for the £15 green raincoat from the army & navy store, I also bought a couple of books on permaculture: Permaculture in a Nutshell by Patrick Whitefield, and The Permaculture Way by Graham Bell.

I bought them because I'm intrigued by just how much food I could produce on our small patch of garden, and how to make best use of the land. Permaculture seems to take organic one step further, and I'm all about using natural alternatives to me working hard (e.g. creating the right habitats for slug predators rather than me having to collect and kill them manually...).

Of the two books, I preferred the tone of Permaculture in a Nutshell. It is a little less preachy. But it is a small book. It's a great overview, and I would definitely recommend it as a way in. The Permaculture Way then allowed me to get a (marginally) more thorough read, so that worked well. I think a slightly preachy tone may go with the territory! I'm definitely interested in doing further research, but I think I'm going to join the library to try some books before I buy any more - that bonus only goes so far...

The geek factor comes in with the resonance that the descriptions of permaculture design had with the user-centred design process I've been exploring in my degree course. A strong idea that the people who used the systems must be deeply involved and understood comes through, along with the importance of understanding the requirements from the system. It could be very interesting to see what could evolve out of merging both approaches...

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