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December 22, 2003 » 2:28 pm

December GivingSpace Workshop

There were several interesting presentations at Tom Munnecke‘s December 11 GivingSpace workshop, as well as some worthwhile discussion. Some quick thoughts and tidbits:    (NA)

The workshop began with one of Paul Andrews‘s Improbable Pairs videos. This one told the story of Yitzhak Frankenthal, an Israeli whose son was killed by Palestinians, and Jawad Tibi, a Palestinian whose brothers were killed by the Israeli military. Their tales are gutwrenching, but rather than respond with hatred, the two formed a group called the Parents Bereavement Forum, a support group for both Israeli and Palestinian families personally affected by the violence. Paul filmed and edited their stories masterfully. The video was only about ten minutes, but there was not a dry eye in the audience.    (NB)

Heather Wood-Ion gave a marvelous talk on transformation. An analogy she made that stood out for me was that the mythology in nonprofits centers around martyrdom. Words like “sacrifice” and “suffering” are bandied about. The mythology in forprofits centers around heroes. There, people talk about building legacies. These attitudes explain why nonprofits are so poor at collaborating with each other. There is a sense that martyrdom and collaboration are mutually exclusive. People want to share their stories of suffering, not of what went right and why. (There was some followup discussion about this at the Blue Oxen Collaboration Collaboratory.)    (NC)

Megan Smith, one of the founders of Planet Out and currently a Reuters Digital Visions Fellow at Stanford and an employee at Google, explained the 2/3 rule: Two-thirds of every successful community on the Internet consists of conversations. Successful sites, she said, are good at gardening those conversations. Megan also described a giant LCD map of the world at the Google offices. When someone in the world queries Google, a light blinks at that location on the map. What strikes Megan is that there are entire regions of the world that are always dark, a vivid visual reminder of the digital divide. In addition to being a clear thinker and a dynamic storyteller, Megan also demonstrated a diplomat’s touch, when she very skillfully and transparently defused an exchange between participants that had gotten very heated.    (ND)

Jerry Michalski explained his acronym du jour: MADA (Memory, Analysis, Discourse, Action). MADA struck me as an excellent (better?) synthesis for what Doug Engelbart calls CoDIAK (Collective Development, Integration, and Application of Knowledge). Jerry had the line of the workshop, when he pointed to the conversation map that Megan had drawn on the white board, and said, “All that discussion without memory and analysis is like going around in a giant circle jerk.” Jerry also suggested that business are partially to blame for why we don’t have better tools for group memory. Business of culture, he observed, don’t want us to have a memory. They want us to buy what they’re currently telling us we need. (See also my previous notes on group memory.)    (NE)

Richard Gabriel talked about the Hillside Group and Pattern Languages. He said that the Hillside Group “practices an aggressive disregard for novelty.” Jerry, incidentally, called Pattern Languages “deglazed wisdom.” Jerry was on fire that day.    (NF)

We participated in a Conversation Cafe for the latter part of the workshop. The topic was, “What can we do to create self-organizing systems that discover and replicate positive, scalable, small things?” We broke into several small groups, sat at different tables in the “cafe,” and drew on butcher paper as we talked. Here’s an excerpt from a previous blog entry about one of those conversations:    (NG)

Another great example of the challenges of SharedLanguage cropped up at the GivingSpace workshop in SanFrancisco last Thursday. Six of us were discussing small, concrete steps that lead to transformation, and HeatherNewbold described how MattGonzalez? for Mayor campaign buttons had galvanized the progressive community in SanFrancisco. Four of us knew exactly what Heather was describing, because we lived in the Bay Area and followed local politics. All she had to do was mention the buttons, and we understood what she meant. The other two people at our table, however, had no idea what we were talking about. One was from SanDiego, and the other simply didn’t follow politics.  T    (NH)

Here are the two products of the conversations at our table, courtesy of Fen Labalme.    (NI)

Every time I participate in one of these workshops, I find myself paying close attention to the facilitation itself, inevitably comparing it to other experiences. Shelley Hamilton’s technique shared some similarities with the MGTaylor process, and at one point, she cited Stuart Kaufman’s work, which also inspired Matt Taylor and Gail Taylor. Overall, Shelley did a good job. I especially liked the Conversation Cafe. The one thing I didn’t like was that there was no Report Out session following the cafe. It would have been nice to have had a group session where we summarized our conversations and sought connections between those summaries.    (NJ)

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One Response to “December GivingSpace Workshop”

  1. I think he’s pulling (with credits) a lot of that from RussellAckoff

    http://webseitz.fluxent.com/wiki/MADA
    http://webseitz.fluxent.com/wiki/RussellAckoff

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