My friend Steve Moore is planning an event called 2gether08 for July 2 and 3. He’s billing it as a festival rather than an event.
Steve’s an ubernetworker and a man for whom the phrase “force of nature” could have been invented. (I’ve also facilitated quite a few of the events he’s organised in the past). He sees a big disconnect among
those who are dedicated to making, well to put it simply, the world a better place (policy makers, campaigners, social entrepreneurs, teachers etc); the brilliant creatives I encounter in television and advertising and the pioneering digital technologists, the bloggers, the entrepreneurs and investors; practical visionaries one and all.
But these worlds hardly ever collide
I think that sense of frustration and disconnection is very interesting. I’m aware of a lot of blancmange leveraging going on – in many different forms depending on one’s status in the pecking order. What’s exciting about the emergence of peer-to-peer models of engagement is that that pecking order gets disrupted… and maybe this leads to more anxiety and sense of disconnection, as well as a sense that so much more is possible.
Looking at the site, Steve and his team are trying to figure out how to organise a peer-to-peer event (a nice paradox). They’re inviting suggestions, proposals and contributions. They’re planning a mix of the conventional (setpiece speeches from important people) and the less structured. I know where I’d want to gravitate.
My two cents would be to treat plenary time as golden and precious. If you are going to ask all your participants to sit together you are assembling a huge number of brains. Such events have the potential to be awesome, even transcendent, but more often are mediocre or dire. I’ve been through far too many crappy speeches from supposedly interesting people and a much smaller number of really good ones. The big mistake I see is that organisers often identify the problem very loudly (we don’t want to be boring!) and most speakers appear to understand (I promise to be exciting!) but we end up with same-old, same-old. Another disconnect. (I see a pattern emerging…)
I’ve also been to a few plenaries where we’ve opted out of the setpieces and shot for something more challenging, more peer-to-peer, where everyone sits in a circle and we use a quaker meeting house format. Very few organisers are willing to risk it.
I know for certain that Steve is going to pull together a lot of very interesting and interested people for this event. I’m going to give some more thought to how I might contribute… and if you’re in London in early July, I’d encourage you to do so too!