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All About the BrainJam…    

Ready for a BrainJam?

Originally posted by Chris Heuer for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

So here we are on the eve of our NCDD BrainJam and I am finally getting a chance to write you about what we have planned for tomorrow. I am writing this from the backseat of my car as Kristie drives myself and Tom Foremski to a meeting south of the airport - which is where I suspect a few of you might be at this very moment. The past few weeks have been extremely hectic, but also prosperous and enlightening - just as we like it!

Before getting into what you should expect tomorrow, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge Loretta Donovan and Beth Kanter for their incredible contributions to the BrainJam and the conference. Of course, I have lots of love and respect for Sandy, Andrew, Kate and Joy, but I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for having met Beth and Loretta and having their invaluable advice in designing this BrainJam. I have learned a great deal from collaborating with them and hope to continue that learning as part of a weekly BrainJams podcast we are trying to organize.

So now to the good bits - what is the BrainJam going to be like?

For starters, we have about 40 people registered with a good mix of technologists and conversationalists - and quite a few technology people who are also experienced in dialogue and deliberations practices. In fact, we will be joined by MJ Kim, one of the original organizers key volunteerrs (sorry for the confusion MJ, your presence was everywhere and I misunderstood your role) of BarCamp in addition to Heather GoldLiz HenryJay CrossSarah DoppRaines Cohen and Jerry Michalski - some of the most enlightened technologists I know.

We will start the day in a circle by setting some intentions for our time together with brief introductions and an exercise that I think will be a great way to get the energy in motion. After our introductory ice breaker we will get on with the BrainJamming with everyone engaged in 12 five minute meetings - our speed dating styled signature focused on helping you connect with the people, ideas and resources that can really make a difference in your work and your life.

After a short break, we will reconvene for a conversation in circle focused on the question of why the Web is more important than ever and why everyone is so excited about the nature of the participation that is now possible with tools such as Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis, Social Networks and the all important Tagging that enables discovery and builds community.

At this point, everyone will be ready for lunch. There are lots of choices nearby, but we would like to encourage people to eat together at one of a handful of restaurants to continue the conversations.

After lunch we will have a great opportunity to learn about how real people actually use some of the tools at the heart of our discussion. In that the experience of the room ranges from complete novice to expert, we are trying to engage around how we work with the tools so that everyone might come away having learned a neat trick or two. While the completely uninitiated will at least get a sense of how other people are using the technology and what people are doing with it.

After another short break, we will reconvene for a World Cafe with the intention of turning the conversations of the day into actions that will help you make the most of the technology in support of your passions and professions. We will then harvest our discussions and capture them for a podcast that will be shared with other attendees.

The day will wrap up with a final circle where we pass the talking stick (aka microphone) to share our big takeaways, commit to our next steps and acknowledge those who have helped us most throughout the day. After the closing circle, Loretta, Beth and I will be publishing to the blog, publishing the podcasts and editing some video to share with other attendees and the rest of the world. For those of you who are interested in seeing how that process works in the real world, you are welcome to stay later and learn a bit more.

Finally, we will be heading out for drinks and dinner somewhere around Union Square, location to be determined.

So that is what you can expect by attending the BrainJam tomorrow. I wish I had been able to publish this earlier, but as they often say, better late than never. I really am looking forward to seeing you all in the morning - so now it is time for me to get some final items packed and try to get some sleep.

Rested and ready, we have a great BrainJam ahead!

BrainJam: A Conversation on Technology

Originally posted by Chris Heuer for the 2006 NCDD Conference…After a fun and innovative ice breaker that taught participants about tags through a word association exercise, we gathered in circle for a discussion on why the web is more important than ever. The stories, the concerns and the questions lead to the opening of many eyes to the possibilities of what can now be done by those of us who don’t feel very comfortable with technology.Listen in, jot some notes and share your ideas or ask some questions using the comment feature on this blog…Download as MP3 (11.6MB)or listen right here…

Brain is Jammed! NCDD Pre-Conference

Originally posted by Kai Degner for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

Wow.  Today’s “pre-conference” was as powerful a conference experience as I could have asked for at the National COnference on Dialogue and Deliberation.  I spent from 9am-10pm meeting with, listening to, and learning from technologists, facilitators, small business owners, dialogue practioners, nonprofit staffers, corporate consultants, and steadfast bloggers.  ALL of us are actively pursuing models, techniques, organizations, and tools that faciliate more meaningful conversation about things that matter.

The day-long session, called BrainJam, was explicitly dedicated to exploring Web 2.0 technologies.  These include things like blogs, tags, RSS feeds, flickr, podcasts and more.  Refreshingly, the time was overwhelmingly spent speaking in small groups with other participants about our experiences, goals, and plans concerning these tools.  That resulted in a rich discussion focused on potential and possibilities rather than only a how-to session.  Of course, with a gathering of dialogue professionals, I’m learning to expect environments designed to allow self-organization and synchronicity to dictate the interactions.  I’ll likely be sharing a number of tools on the blog in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Tonight, though, I’d like to share my sincere excitement of connecting with others who champion discussion-based efforts they feel will improve the world.  I met Juanita Brown of the World Cafe and was able to share with her my appreciation for providing resources with which to use the process (how interesting that Juanita was participating in our afternoon World Cafe!).  I briefly said hello to Susan Partnow of Conversation Cafe, and experienced again its powerful ability to give a gentle structure to small group covnersation.  I met Matthew Blom who heads to the farmer’s market with a friend and sets up a sign that says, “Fighting with anyone?  Let us help.” and then sits and talks with anyone who stops.  I met Vanessa Smith who tagged herself with “intuition” as I did during an exercise and runs her own wholistic healing and life coaching business.  I met more (Sarah, Barb, Chris, Kenn…) and more (Heather, Loretta!, Hal, Jack…) who have inspiring messages, tools, talents, and attitudes.

And the conference hasn’t even started!

So, as I sit down on the eve of the conference, I am renewed, energized, and awed that for the next three days I’ll have an limitless supply of people with who to identify around the causes of dialogue and its connection to community and citizenship.  When I find moments to spare, I’ll post some more. 

Until then, What’s YOUR OrangeBand? 

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