Esse quam videri

You know the amazing thing about these conferences is always the unstructured stuff that happens “offline” (meaning outside the programmed activities). Last night I met two Aussies who are doing amazing things like developing networks of autonomous robots that function like a decentralized network gathering and sharing information, and covering global protests for Greenpeace, and developing online journals of progressive activist thought.

Anyway, these are things people come to the conference for, and frankly I learn at least as much from those experiences as I do from some of the planned sessions. The organizers are obviously doing a great job – you can tell by the wonderful collection of people here. I just wish there were more ways for us to communicate with each other directly. The workshops are interesting, but allowing for 4-5 questions at the end of a series of presentations simply isn’t dialogue.

Here are a few thoughts that are percolating up…

  • I need clearer information about what’s happenning and who is here. I had to choose between carrying my laptop or the huge sprial-bound notebook I was given at registration – I chose the laptop. The “birds of a feather” tables at lunch, the dinner meetings, the film last night are not presented in an obvious enough way. Am I lazy? I want this simplified in one clear format repeated in various media (flyers, website, poster boards, etc.). How about a schedule that could beamed (or at least downloaded) to palm-top devices (like this)?
  • How about some different structures for breakout sessions, or maybe even some big sessions? For example, let’s try some network-centric models. Also I’d like to see some different types of sessions, perhaps involving an activity other talking? For example, a writing workshop, a design workshop, a training on mindfulness meditation.
  • Let’s use the Internet’s unique capacity for many-to-many conversation while we are here having this shared experince. this can be done so many ways: chat, listserv, blogs, wiki, IRC.
  • A consistent, open wireless network would enable some of these ideas. True it could prove to distract participants, but let’s trust and challenge each other to stay engaged.

This is mostly pouring out of the top of my head. What ideas do you have? Please click the “rant” button below or continue the conversation on the circuit riders list.

Finally, I want to say again that if weren’t for the hard work of Holly & Co at N-TEN, I wouldn’t even be here thinking and learning and doing these ideas. My hope is that we can do this same great conference in the future, even better!

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