In June 2002, twenty-five people who at some stage had met online in the Foundations of Communities of Practice Workshop gathered at a beautiful location in Portugal with a loose agenda to share their work, ideas and practices about communities of practice. Many of the conversations that took place led to some long-term relationships, collective learning agendas and new practices. One of the practices that developed out of this Setúbal Dialogue was immediate reporting on some of the results of the dialogue to a wider audience of people (although we did not formally publish anything) at a local conference. Two other practices following this one have been: first, to organize small, informal meetings of CPsquare members and friends adjoining large conferences and, second, to explore and extend the idea of a face-to-face workshop with an online set-up and follow-on open both to members who could attend the conference workshop and some who could not. These events include a workshop on “Phase change” at the Communities and Technologies (C&T) conference in Amsterdam in 2003 and a workshop on “Context and the role of narrative” at the C&T conference in Milan in 2005.
In October 2006 with an agenda that we will negotiate online and a culture of sharing ideas, work practices and living arrangements we are holding a Dialogue at a beautiful location in Florence. “The Prato Dialog” will take place a few days before the “Prato Conference” that is organised by the Community Informatics Research Network . “Communities, Memories and Technologies” is the theme of the Prato Conference and our Dialogue will harness this theme and develop some of the threads of our inquiry to participants in a workshop during the Prato Conference. All those who participate in the Prato Dialogue are invited to help present the workshop at the Prato Conference.
For many of us, where a social perspective on learning is the subject and the means of inquiry and the rallying point that brings us together these events are works of love. They are produced in moments stolen from our jobs, families and friends. We often find ourselves swimming between disciplinary and professional boundaries trying to articulate more clearly what we do, and looking for ways to justify, legitimize and finance our way to learning and improving our practice. At this Dialogue we want to make these stolen moments an open and discussable subject of inquiry – part of our community memory as we join ideas and forces for making such events a sustainable part of our repertoire of practice, and our gift to the world.
When: afternoon of October 5th through afternoon of October 8th, 2006
Where: in Florence, Italy. We will be staying at Veb guesthouse in the centre of Florence. The Dialogue will take place at the guesthouse, especially on the terrace overlooking the city.
Why: meeting with peers is part of practicing our craft. We want to create an opportunity to reflect on our own work and on the work of others. We want to pursue specific lines of questions, enjoy the community & face-to-face meeting as a source of inspiration for our work.
Who: we are inviting people who are interested in reflecting on theory and on practice. Initially it will be launched by Beverly Trayner, Patricia Arnold and John D. Smith. We are explicitly working on involving others in shaping the event and leading it. In fact, each participant is expected to play a role in producing the dialog.
Cost: we are aiming for a self-organizing event where costs are covered but none of the organizers make money from the event. We anticipate that the cost of infrastructure, organization, possible guest speakers, and outings will be covered by registration fees. We are asking for a deposit of $175 to cover accomodation and anticipated costs.