The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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#14: A time and place for everything

vaughn2nd January 2021 at 1:59pm

This issue is about how to design conferences and gatherings that are really interesting and generative instead of the usual humdrum bullshit.

The real virtue of a gathering is not the ostensible reason it is convened (e.g. "learn about the latest in advertising technology" or "come see the most advanced consumer electronics")—instead, it is that the gathering creates an excuse for a crowd to temporarily assemble in the same space around shared interests. In doing so it enriches that particular space and time in opportunities for meeting other people with shared or complementary interests. Most gatherings fail to recognise this and are programmed in ways that thwart this potential.

A truly great gathering is built by having the discipline to leave enough open-endedness in it by avoiding overprogramming, and investing effort and resources in forming unexpected connections between people and ideas.

So, four principles:

  1. No talks or events which you feel obligated to attend but are actually deadly boring—and which pull you reluctantly away from the great conversation you were having in the hallway;
  2. Many spaces of various sizes in which to have anything from a 1:1 conversation to a little workshop or seminar, and easy ways to see which of those spaces are/will be in use;
  3. Very extended breakfasts, lunches, and dinners of a format and with seating that makes it natural to get up repeatedly and move to sit with other people (i.e., not long refectory-style tables);
  4. Organizers actively and continually making connections between participants and areas of emergent shared or complementary interest—human mRNA;

You can find it here: #14: A time and place for everything