A Series of Open Conversations

What the heck is Blue Oxen Associates supposed to be about. Why the heck am I in this business? Forget about my Elevator Pitch for a moment. Forget about collaboration and collaboratories, Pattern Languages and Purple Numbers. What do I want, and why do I care?    (K1V)

I haven’t been able to answer these questions to everybody’s satisfaction, but I’ve found folks of all types who get either it or me pretty quickly and who share many of my hopes, dreams, and values. Being around these people has kept me going both personally and professionally, and further catalyzing this community is a big part of what Blue Oxen Associates is about. I often think about the negativity that one of my mentors, Doug Engelbart, faced for so long early in his career, and I’m grateful at how different my world has been.    (K1W)

Katrin Verclas and Seb Paquet are two of my favorite conversational partners. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Katrin (and Allen Gunn, another favorite) on the FLOSS Usability Sprints. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with Seb yet, but I’m quite certain it will happen eventually.    (K1X)

Katrin is in Massachusetts, and Seb is in Montreal. My conversations with both are always incredibly rich, and I’m constantly wishing that we could talk more often and that we could capture some of those conversations. Of course, thanks to technology (and a bit of process), we can.    (K1Y)

In the spirit of old school letter writing, I’ve proposed to both of them a series of conversations with a twist. Instead of emailing back and forth, we’ll post our letters on our blogs so that others can participate and hopefully join in.    (K1Z)

I think the open conversations will be revealing and hopefully entertaining. Katrin has already kicked things off with a nice list of things she wants out of her career and life. I’ll respond in my next blog post. And when Seb decides to return to the blogosphere (*nudge, nudge*), we’ll have an open conversation as well.    (K20)

I’d love to have conversations with many others, beyond what already occurs on our respective blogs. If you’d like to join in on this little experiment, write me a letter and post it on your blog. Don’t forget to link back here so I can find it.    (K21)

Looking forward to the conversations!    (K22)

Compendium Tutorial on Monday, November 28

Maarten Sierhuis is offering a free Compendium tutorial tomorrow, November 28, 11am-1pm PT, via telephone and WebEx. If you’re interested in participating, drop him an email at msierhuis-at-mail-dot-arc-dot-nasa-gov, and he’ll forward you the call-in information. This is a great way to get some real exposure to Compendium quickly. See Maarten’s original announcement for more information.    (K1R)

Also, proceedings from the Compendium Institute Workshop earlier this month are now available. You can download the PDF of the papers or view the maps of the presentations.    (K1S)

Coworking Open House, November 21

Lots of folks have envisioned a world where the future of work is like the movie industry today. People form teams to tackle a task, then break up when the task is over, only to reform in new teams later. We’re very close to this vision becoming a reality in a geographically dispersed way. In my three years at Blue Oxen Associates, I’ve worked with different folks all over the world, and I have yet to meet all of my clients face-to-face.    (K1I)

That to said, there’s something lost when you’re always working in a distributed fashion. Tools and online community prevent you from being totally isolated, but there’s a beautiful energy that usually only manifests itself in a face-to-face setting.    (K1J)

Folks generally compensate for this deficiency by creating their own local communities. Most of my work is remote, but I still manage to see lots of folks face-to-face, and the benefits are immeasurable. I’m lucky enough to be in the Bay Area where we have a disproportionate number of brilliant, passionate people doing amazing things. That said, building this local network took a lot of work and time and a bit of serendipity. I have to be proactive about maintaining face time with good folks.    (K1K)

Rather than be individually proactive about working with folks, many people have created communal spaces for the like-minded and like-spirited. This is a long-standing practice among many communities. Brad Neuberg recently started such a space in San Francisco, which he calls coworking. He’s holding a free open house next Monday, November 21, 2005. I met Brad at one of Chris Messina and Andy Smith‘s barbecues this past summer. He’s doing interesting work, and he seems to be in the center of an interesting community. If you’re a free-lancer or remote worker looking to spend some quality time with other good people, I encourage you to check it out.    (K1L)

Jeff Conklin’s Dialog Mapping Workshop, November 29-30

I mentioned Jeff Conklin‘s Dialogue Mapping workshop later this month, but it was at the end of a long blog post, and folks may have missed it. In short:    (K1F)

Finally, if you’re in the BayArea, you should register for JeffConklin‘s upcoming workshop in RedwoodCity, November 29-30. If you’re a project manager, facilitator, or consultant, or if you deal with groups regularly (who doesn’t?), don’t wait. Sign up and go.  T    (K1G)

I highly recommend it.    (K1H)

Bay Area XDI Workshop, December 5

Andy Dale and the good folks at ooTao will be hosting a workshop on XDI on Monday, December 5, 2005, from 1-4pm at ooTao’s offices in Alameda, CA. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn the technical ins-and-outs of XDI and how it enables permission-based data sharing. Register now; spots are limited.    (K1A)