Planning to remember, based on previous experience

August 22, 2006

Many of us who participated in the Setúbal Dialog in 2002 had a compelling and formative experience. One detail that we forgot to plan for was: producing some kind of record of the event. It seems that many of the design elements that worked in that event were almost accidental, but they have formed a kind of scaffolding for the design of subsequent events. We remembered the event itself as a model of how to organize a different — more community oriented — kind of event. The following events owe some debt to Setúbal Dialog:

  • CPweek in 2003
  • the Amsterdam C&T Phase Change workshop in 2003
  • the Nahcotta Muckabout in 2003
  • the Tech-Muck in 2004
  • a technology planning conference at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education in 2004
  • two workshops on “Working with Social Status as Scaffolding for Learning” in 2004
  • a workshop on Facilitating Learning Events for Communities of Practice held in Lisbon in 2004
  • a workshop at the C&T Conference in Milan in 2005

But in a way, our focus was always inward-looking in the sense that the main focus of our design and facilitation was bringing people together, creating a memorable conversation, and insuring that the social bonds that were created were such that there was a good chance that the conversation would continue after the event.

As a matter of fact, the Setúbal Dialog produced quite an amazing record of our convesations, but it was only shared within the group of participants because it wasn’t part of plan and we hadn’t asked for permission to share beyond the group. Now there are several things that seem to have changed, making it appropriate for us to use this blog as a collective record of what we’re learning:

  • We know there won’t be time afterwards: so we’re going to publish as we go.
  • Technology has changed: setting up a blog is easy and more of us are comfortable with blog software; we operate on more platforms at once than we did four years ago
  • We have identified a boundary between the public and private parts of our conversation in advance: even though the boundary is permeable and negotiated as we go, it has been declared in advance
  • We’re more confident: we know that this kind of conference is very productive, so we feel confident about announcing that the conversations will be worth remembering (even though we don’t know exactly what’s going to be happening at every point during the 3 days of face-to-face conversation)
  • Some people can’t go to Florence: this blog may be a place for some of the people who can’t be there in person to share their observations of the process, ask questions, and get a sense of the context (hopefully in preparation for the next event).

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