Archive for category BrainJams

A Week of Progress, Hope and Friendship in DC

Washington DC
What an awesome week in DC. As an IBM Futurist (influencer, amplifier, thinker, whatever), they often invite me to attend various conferences and events to learn, to ‘report’ via social media and to help stimulate conversations with the participants who are usually IBMers, customers and potential customers. This trip was part of the #NewWayToWork tour they are producing, so they pay for the travel expenses and I get to just be myself and speak my mind. They ask for some pics and tweets, which I would do anyway, and they promote my work in support of the broader social media amplification of the brand and their forward thinking positions. More on the event this week in a little bit, as I want to recap what made it so awesome for me and my projects personally.

The New Way to Work event was just one of several highlights as I made the most of the travel opportunity to talk to more people about my community collaboration software, Will Someone. I was also working to line up some strategic consulting gigs, to fuel more development of the software, to host a kickoff BrainJam for We Are the Solution and spent time catching up with old friends and making new ones.

I started the week off by diving into the great community that Nicole Patrice has formed over the years, including her colleague Ross Buntrock, who was gracious enough to let me stay on his couch for the one night not covered by IBM. They are working on something that is simply stellar, but nothing to share about it just yet. I got to catch up with Cyrus Radfar who was in town from SF, out on the road like me meeting people to help grow his company, Kapuno. Then we had this sumptuous fall meal that Nicole prepared and great conversation for hours over some great wine with a bunch of folks in town for a Nature Conservancy event, many of whom are an integral part of the Summit community.

I’ve started privately sharing information on the first major project we are working to undertake surrounding We Are The Solution, the non-profit community organization we have recently launched. I was particularly inspired and found great hope in talking to Wayne Price, the original Summit documentarian, who is just an awesome human being, who just happens to live in the East Bay, not too far from my home. Then I got into a great conversation with Margot Machol about her upcoming book where she interviewed something like 60 entrepreneurs and their mothers. Apparently, they all share what I was fortunate to have, a mother who instilled a deep belief that we could do anything. I think she’s going to be doing some cool things hopefully with Blab now that I introduced her to the concept, but still lots to discuss ahead of the book launch.

Before heading off the next morning to a meeting with my old friend, advisor and hopefully soon to be team mate, Thomas Vander Wal, Nicole, Ross and Rick were gracious enough to listen to my vision for Will Someone and the broader ecosystem we are building. Thomas and I reviewed our nextgen plans for Will Someone, caught up on life, other work and our usual reminiscing about what we tried to create in 1999 around conversational intelligence with Conversal. After our conversation, I had a chance to go have lunch with one of my fraternity brothers and finally eat at the new Exchange, our old college bar.

Rushing from there back to the hotel and being stymied by a few administrative snafus, I finally got into my room in time to interview Doug Foulds as part of my new #CXDNow series on Customer Experience Design. This is something they are paying me for, sponsoring the show, so I was a bit anxious before the show and a bit more when we kept hitting some technical challenges during the show, but as usual, it worked out great. 

With only a few moments rest, I took care of some other work and took an Uber into Georgetown for a super high quality entrepreneur networking event. Tons of smart people, quick chat with Nicole to introduce her to someone working on cool related tech, a connection for one of my Wearable World mentorees and a great conversation with several other startup founders. I was hoping to go down to Fatoush to relive the late night mumchie quashing Fatoush Gyro, but apparently, its closed now, so I just ate some Kebobs and headed home to get some work done and get some rest.

New Way to Work DC - Chris Heuer and Mark Babbit in Marketing Track

I woke up refreshed to head to the US Institute of Peace for the IBM New Way to Work Event. At the last minute the day before, they asked myself and Mark Babbit to participate in a fireside chat format event on the marketing track. Really grateful for having a chance to spend more time with him, he’s wise, smart, cool and just a great guy to hang around. Apparently we did a pretty good job, you can see a pic of us and the graphic recording that was made of our discussion below. When people were leaving, they were apparently quite impressed and amazed at how rich the workshop was. That it wasn’t just a typical sales pitch, but instead a real conversation with inspiration, solid strategy and even tactical advice. Several remarked that they were kind of bummed about how tough things had gotten but were feeling energized and inspired to go back to work and create change. #GoalAccomplished

After the event, we had a great lunch with Mark and Adriana Zegarelli where I learned how organizations thrive by going “Beyond Budgeting” from our other lunch mate Steve Player, Steve is a super smart guy who is also a fan of the work of Doug Kirkpatrick and the Self Management Institute. I then headed to a couple of meetings with my friends at the US State Department down the street to catch up and talk digital diplomacy. It turns out that the Gov2Gov event that Lovisa Williams and I hosted in 2009 with Dominick Campbell and our ‘special friends’ in the Canadian Embassy over in London inspired a thing of its own, the Digital Diplomacy Coalition. So cool. I so often think I’ve accomplished nothing in my life so far, but this week I was reminded of all the ways I really have made a contribution to the world which really has me psyched for all the great stuff to come. After catching up with Lovisa, I was able to reconnect again with Archana Poddar who also works at the State Department and get her insights on a few projects I am developing. Awesome people working to make government better.

From here I ran into the evening, first with a stop for happy hour Oysters at the Old Ebbits Grill with Mark Babbitt, then for a quick catchup at The Hamilton with my old boss from the US Mint (wrote a bit about her and my time there recently), and finally to catch up with another one of my fraternity brothers, Andrew Keenan to talk life, politics, beers and social activism. Afterwards, I stopped by my favorite DC restaurant, Zaytinya, shhh don’t tell anyone how great it is. Then off to the hotel to get all the video editing for #CXDNow now and publish the blog post.

With only a few hours sleep, I headed off to Busboys and Poets to host the first BrainJam for We Are The Solution. Almost 10 years ago, we held one of the first BrainJams in DC. We had several people cancel, but with the 5 of us who were there, including Todd Tweedy who was at the first one, it actually worked out quite well, with everyone getting something meaningful. There is amazing power in our focus question – “What are you trying to accomplish? How can I help?” It proved itself in DC, and I can’t wait to see more of them happening in DC, across the country and even around the world.

Special thanks to Todd and Audience Machine for sponsoring breakfast. Kathy Chamberlain for letting us know about all the other great things already happening in DC that is similar, including the Social Enterprise DC group. Ricardo Abella for participating and sharing his story. Special thanks to Alexandra Long, who was at the IBM event the day before and gave me inspiration to keep going, to let me know that my stories and insights were making a difference. Even greater still, for her volunteering to help create the Journey Map for We Are The Solution that we are building as one of the practical how to segments of the #CXDNow series.

Towards the end, Nicole Patrice was able to join us and serve as a living breathing human example of the sort of impact we had previously with Social Media Club by inspiring people all over the country to convene their tribes, to embrace our mantra, “If you get it, share it”. Hearing her tell everyone about her experience traveling around the country and connecting with local SMC chapters, was a big part of my realization that while what I hoped to create didn’t fully manifest, what SMC produce was not only meaningful, but a beautiful expression of my original intent.

By the time I had finished sharing a full demo of what we built with Alynd, she had already introduced to me to three of her Summit friends. From Busboys and Poets, I headed over to Teaism for lunch with my dear friend and former coworker Sacha Cohen. After getting back to the hotel, I ended up connecting with one of Nicole’s suggested contact’s, Tyler Kellogg, who traveled across country helping people in a similar spirit of what I have been striving towards, but in human to human contact at a very personal level. You can hear more of his inspiring story here from his TEDx talk in Greenville.

So then it was off to the airport and onto the plane where I wrote up the highlights of this crazy week in DC, the epicenter once again for a massive change in my life. A week where I have truly lived my true purpose for this life, a life that is much more important then my experience of it, but which is also just pretty amazing, filled with amazing friends, crazy big dreams of a better world and the sort of hope that we can be the change we want to see, and ultimately see that change manifest in the world.

The time is now. You too can make a difference. So what’s stopping you?

Over the coming weeks, perhaps you can join us as we host more BrainJams in support of We Are The Solution. Check out these dates and if you can, come help us help you to make the world the best it can be, because while WE face many challenges, we are the solution to it all. If you are interested in helping, simply comment here or head over to the web site and subscribe to our Newsletter and we will invite you into our Slack group.

  • San Francisco – October 22, 2015
  • London, UK – October 30, 2015
  • Dublin, Ireland – November 5, 2015 (during Web Summit)
  • Bilbao, Spain – November 18, 2015 (during EEC)


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Equality Camp San Francisco

Spent the better part of the day down at Citizen Space for Equality Camp, focusing on supporting the marriage equality movement.  There were some great discussions and a lot of great people, a few of whom I captured in some of these photos.  Hope you enjoy…


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Foundational Fixes For Economy #alt2bailout

Face-to-face trading interactions on the tradi...

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This morning over sausages and beer at Citizen Space, the talk inevitably turned to the economy and whether it was going to turn around or tank.  The great thing about co-working is the diversity of perspectives you can get in any conversation.  Without the corporate silo walls preventing us from interacting, without being organized by similarity of activities performed, and without anything connecting us more then a shared sense of place, we get by the bullshit and get real.

Anyway, I digress, because my point is more about what we really need to change in order to correct for our broader market problems (though I clearly think the silos between us are uber important).  What will it take? Less Greed?  Sure, but how do we stop one of the most powerful and highly motivating of the 7 deadly sins?  We certainly don’t legislate it all away, its an emotionally charged human behaviour.  No, we must really start the change from within.  Microsharing is perhaps an appropriate meme to leverage – now we need to get on to microgrowing, where we each grow a little bit each day in terms of understanding how connected we are to the world around us and the other people in it.

This was one of the original purposes of BrainJams, and then Social Media Club – to bring together people from a large diversity of backgrounds to see past the differences of culture, style, economic status and intelligence and see into the hearts and souls of each other.  To see that as much as we are individuals, we are also all one.  We are on this earth together.  We are part of this ecosystem less then we are masters over it.  We are in it together.

Whether or not you believe in the butterfly effect or chaos theory, you certainly have experienced the impact that another person can have on you and that you can have on them.  There is no denying that we are all connected in some way – the homeless man and Donald Trump, George Bush and Cindy Sheehan, and even Charlie Manson and the Benedectine Monks.  What we do affects others.  Simple.  What we do affects the earth. Simple.  What others do affects us.  We need to be mindful of this impact and find a way to ensure its balance.  To balance our self interest and drive with the broader interest of the world around us and its needs for our unique contribution to it.

What we need to fix to help our economy is to not reward greed and excess with tax breaks and bailouts but with meaningful penalties.  Perhaps they can use their great talents to serve as community organizers – to solve big problems.

One specific place where a change in perspective can have a potentially big impact is in looking at our unrealistic expectations of investment grade returns of our investment capital after a company has developed a mature market.  We probably need to fix the general public perception about investment markets in the US really.  We need to get beyond the expectations of constant never ending growth of our investments and look more to the long term. More like the Europeans with a 5 year view of the market instead of a quarterly perspective.

We need to shift our thinking of investments into alignment with reality.  At some point, investments in mature markets become consistent profitability instead of a doubling of revenue. The investor reward on this investment has a ceiling, but if it is successful will always reward your risk with income in the form of dividends.  Wow, what a concept!  So instead of looking for my money to grow exponentially, I realize it is providing me with $250,000 in income each year.  That sounds pretty darn reasonable to me.

Wasn’t that how utilities and railroads used to operate?

This is clearly a sociological problem. A psychological problem.  So it is hard to imagine any scenario where our government is going to be able to force this sort of change in society.  That change needs to come from inside of us. Each and everyone of us. We need to be aware of the world we inhabit, our role in it, our stewardship of it and our responsibilities to each other that when honored will reward each and everyone of us.

It starts simply with microgrowth.  Personal development and an acceptance of the reality we are facing as a result of a way of thinking that is not based in reality.  Humans Don’t Scale no matter how big our appetite for growth is.

Is it possible for this change in thinking to ever take place? Whats good about it and whats bad about it?

A view of the world in balance with our place in it is all I am seeking,  There are many ways to that path.   Tag yours with #alt2bailout and lets learn from each other and discuss other issues we need to address along with potential solutions to our problems.

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My New Space @ Citizen Space

Citizen Space LogoVery excited to make this other announcement today that I am going to be joining a bunch of my friends and colleagues at the local co-working offices of Citizen Space!

When we first secured our offices for BrainJams/Social Media Club in the LookSmart building, we very much wanted that to be a co-working space, but the facilities management policies didn’t allow for it to be a full co-working space.  Instead we sub-leased desks to Stowe Boyd, Greg Narain, Ujogo, My Currency, The Conversation Group and a few other friends.  It was like co-working, but not…

Fast forward to today and I am really happy to be a part of a real co-working space where I can spend my time in a multi-disciplinary environment, hanging with friends, putting on some more community events/salons and generally doing what I love, helping people out.  It is a real stroke of luck that this weekend I saw Tara Hunt tweet about the openings just as I had decided to move on from The Conversation Group – serendipity works in mysterious ways, and this time, in a very awesome way too!

Funny thing is that all my offices in San Francisco have been on 2nd Street, a few blocks apart from each other. I am looking forward to hanging out with Tara, Hillary, Ivan and all the other co-working folks and hopefully also contributing to the broader co-working community.  See you there really soon!

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Widening Participation in Unconferences

As I sit here and look around the room at the number of people who have paid good money to be here at Content Week, where I am serving as Conference Chair at the moment, it just occurred to me how we can get more of these wonderful, smart, caring people into conversations with us at unconferences. We will likely do this with a future Social Media Club Workshop – if you try it, please let me know how it works.

The idea is similar to what I was talking about with Chris Carfi regarding how we might be able to fully realize our spirit of social entrepreneurism in the software industry – by providing one free license to a 501(c)3 for every licensed copy sold to corporations. Perhaps even create a buddy system, or just enable the corporate purchaser to choose from a list of those non-profits who have shown sufficient interest.  In fact, some non-profits who really want the software in question, would become evangelists, trying to find others who would also benefit from the software.
So what we could do with increasing corporate participation in unconferences is charge a lot of money for corporate attendees to participate – perhaps $1,500 each for a 2 day event. Each corporate participant would have ‘sponsored’ the another under-funded, but highly valued contributor to the conversation, paying for their travel expenses, and perhaps even providing a small stipend. We would need to use a few hundred dollars to offset hard costs, but the end goal is the same – to get the right people in the room, to get the costs covered and to enrich our ability to learn from each other.  Perhaps we can do this with the Informl Learning Unconference we have been speaking about with Jay Cross – or perhaps use this technique to help Nancy White bring her incredibly talented crew of facilitators together.

Just an idea at this point – wonder if it has legs to run?

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Web 2point2 Sponsors???

I have talked with several of y’all about sponsoring and/or attending the upcoming Web 2point2 unconference (tag is web22 btw) happening on November 9 and 10, so now is the time to do something about it.  If you are still interested in sponsoring, please send me a note and a logo to one of my email addresses so I can include your support in the launched version of the site which I will most definitely be completing on Sunday.

You can also register for $32.95 (plus a small service charge) which includes a t-shirt, 2 lunches and access to the Web 2point2 Release Party, which will be a blowout on Thursday night November 9. Special thanks to Dave Winer who unbeknownst to me was on an email thread circulated by the lovely Miss Grace and who blogged about it on Scripting News, also becoming the first paying participant.  Nice.

His quote was perfect, embodying the true spirit of the event

“Like all the cool kids, I’ll be at Web 2.2, November 9-10 in San Francisco. Like the web, it’s open to everyone”

More details coming very soon, but please do know that space is limited, nothing I can do about physics…

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Web 2point2 – for those of us on the NOO list!

We have been thinking about it for a long time, but it is time to start doing the work and make this real. So this Sunday we are hosting a planning party over at our house with some beers and pizza and unconference strategy to figure out how we can blow the roof off the joint. Please RSVP for the party over on Upcoming if you plan to attend so we can make appropriate plans for beverages and food.

Given that we pulled off Web2point1 last year in less than a week, having 2 months of planning feels like a true luxury – we should all take advantage of the extra time to create a truly extraordinary event. Now that the conference for “that-phase-of-the-web-that-shall-happen-before-web-3.0 (no more, no less etc etc)” is now sold out, you have more reason than ever to join your colleagues for a bit of low cost, high value learning, networking and collaborating – unconference style.

Some of the details we have already worked out:

  • We have the dates! Thursday November 9 and Friday November 10
  • We have a venue! Much thanks to Nima Dilmaghani who has secured the Microsoft Conference Center at One Market in San Francisco (the same location as BarCamp San Francisco back in June)
  • We have a registration fee!  $3.29usd – with all fees and other participant donations going to Creative Commons.
  • We have some sponsors already! Microsoft, Joyent and my friends at Fleishman Hillard have already offered up their support, even though we have not finalized the sponsorship packages yet (that will be done on Sunday)
  • We are thinking about organizing the day in 2 main tracks (because there are 2 main rooms at the conference center and we want to offer an opportunity for newcomers to learn and for old-hands to dig deeper) – but this is why we want to have a party to talk about it some more – Open Space is fine and dandy, but I am thinking of this more along the lines of facilitated conversations and a few World Cafe‘s

So why are we doing this? Because hippy-crites like Tim O’Reilly who talk the big talk on open source, but hold all of these expensive, exclusive, invite only events need to see that there is another way.  Now, I have never had a problem with expensive and exclusive events really – if there is a market that is willing to pay for something that is fine, if you want to have a certain experience at your party, invite the people you think will create that sort of atmosphere.  But if the whole point of what you are doing is about being open and including more people, you need to find another way to do it.  Dave Winer spoke more eloquently about the problem O’Reilly is facing and it made me realize – I don’t need to and I don’t want to work with people who are so closed minded that anyone with a differing opinion is not allowed into the party.  I am an adult and I don’t need to sit at the cool kid’s table any more – I can sit with the good kid’s instead and I want to work with people who can disagree with one another’s ideas without being disagreeable.
You see, I didn’t realize that there was really a NOO list (Not-friends Of O’Reilly) until reading Dave’s post and talking to some other people who are in the know.  So I have not really spoken out about this because I thought there might still be some opportunities to work together with O’Reilly.  But seeing that there is probably no chance of this happening, I might as well write about why.
So last year, the night before Web 2point1, I was heading to the colors of Web 2.0 party with Will Pate when we hooked up with Chris Messina and some other folks for dinner.  It turned out that the other folkls were the people in charge of the Web 2.0 Conference.  We mentioned what we were doing the next day and before we could even order dinner, both of those people took off – suddenly remembering somewhere else they had to be.  Chris has been talking to them about running some BarCamps around OSCON or something, but I don’t know what if anything actually happened with that – I dont think anything really came of it since Chris did not get an invite to FOO Camp this year, but his other half Tara Hunt did (that is really pretty rude FOO folks).  Of course, that in and of itself says nothing and I may be wrongly assuming a connection there, but it just seemed odd.
So after the event I was reading this great Wired article on O’Reilly and I decided to write him an email to see if we might be able to talk – perhaps there was a way that we could work together since we shared so many things in common (other than me being cash poor and him having tons of it).  It seemed from the article that he was my sort of guy.  After all, I had met him and spoken with him on several occasions over the years and there are few people I don’t get along with.  In fact, at the Creative Commons launch during Etech a few years back, we had a long conversation about Open Source’s impact on the rest of society and its potential to influence collaboration in other industry’s.

Of course, he never responded. So I wrote again.  He never responded.  These were personal emails along the lines you would expect from me with all that flowery, spiritually aware goodness.

So I just figured he was busy and wrote it off.  I held out hope that we might be able to have a conversation some day and he could see that what we were doing with Web 2point1 and BrainJams was not anything against him or his companies, but instead it was FOR something. FOR finding another way of bringing people together to connect, learn and collaborate. Reading Dave Winer’s post though, I got the sense that it really did not matter and that I was just on the NOO list and would be relegated to it for life if that is really the way he thinks.

So let’s all of us on the NOO list, and everyone else who cares about the opportunity of this era come together and show them that it isnt all about the money – the point is still people!


Rent an Expert Event This Wednesday!

Related Links:  Original Blog Post | Wiki | Offer your ExpertiseRequest some Expertise | Help us Organize | RSVP on the Wiki 

I am excited and a iittle nervous about the Rent an Expert event this Wednesday July 19th starting at 530pm.  It still seems that a lot of other people have expressed interest in coming that are not on the Wiki – I don’t know if it is because they don’t have the password “yeswecan” or because they don’t know how to edit a Wiki or because they are not really coming but are being nice to me 🙂 Whatever, the reason, I will be there along with at least a couple dozen other good folks who want to share their expertise with others so it looks like this will be a very interesting experiment.

The brief overview of the night is that people like you will be able to set up shop at one of the tables in the room offering your expertise in 15 or 30 minute appointments, helping people learn or do anything that you want to offer.  Sessions can be one on one or perhaps even done in a small group setting if appropriate.  People will pay a minimum of $1 per 15 minute sessions but are encouraged to spend more if the value they received was high.  Throughout the evening, everyone in attendace will vote on which charity will receive the donation of all the money collected.  At the end of the night, all the money and votes will be tallied and we will announce which charity is the big winner.  Also, the person who collected the most money will win a copy of MindManager Pro from Mindjet!

So now we need a few volunteers and could really use one more last minute sponsor since the company we had hoped to donate additional wine fell through (or rather, we never heard back from them after initial interest).  Volunteers will help with signage, managing the appointments, helping people get oriented when they arrive, setting up the room and a little bit of the cleanup.  Those of you who can volunteer, please show up around 5pm.

We will mix and mingle from about 530-6pm.  At 6pm we will do a little kickoff and the first appointments/sessions will begin at 615pm, continuing through till about 8 at which time we will collect all the monies and tally up the winners.  Make sense?  Do you have an idea that will make it better?  Want to sponsor or volunteer?  email Kristie@ this

Much love and thanks to our sponsors, CNet, MindJet, Rate It All, Stormhoek and Social Media Club

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

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Important BrainJams News

While I have been thinking about this and talking with many of you about this personally over the past month, we are now moving forward with our plans for re-organizing our efforts with BrainJams and moving forward with Social Media Club.  For the last few months, I have been thinking about this matter constantly – trying to tap into my true heart’s desire about what I wanted to do with my time and what purpose I was going to serve in the world with this work.  In fact, to give you a real sense of how long I have been thinking about this, I actually registered the Social Media Club domains back in March.

Now things are pretty clear, we are moving out and we will be announcing more about our plans over the coming days.  If you want to know more about why we are making this shift and what it really entails, I have a long post over on BrainJams that provides all the details.

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Important Upcoming BrainJams Events

There is so much going on lately, it’s hard to know where to start. For once, I will take the simplest approach possible – here is a list of some of the cool events we have in the BrainJams future:

Sunday July 2 930am-1230pm: The morning after Gnomedex in Seattle, WA I am helping Shannon Clark from MeshForum to organize a MeshWalk focused on three very important post conference questions we often don’t have time to consider: 1) What are your big takeaways from Gnomedex? 2) What are you going to do with it? 3) How can we help each other to make it happen? Meshwalk is a walking conference with some occasional stopping points for engaging with other participants in wider conversations. It is a great chance to exercise your body and your mind (and work off the hangover from the night before!)

Thursday July 19 530pm-830pm: Our rescheduled date for the “Rent An Expert” event. Thanks to Joel Sacks from CNet for really stepping up to the plate to obtain approval for us to host the event at CNet’s offices in downtown San Francisco (in the same room where I am writing this post from Bloggercon right now). I will be writing more about this over the next week, but please help us get the word out. If you are trying to learn how to do something with Blogs, Podcasts, Vlogs, Wikis, Photography or other forms of social media tools, come on over to our event Wiki and post a request. Likewise if you want to share your expertise. As Howard Rheingold says, “What it is -> is up to us!”

Thursday August 3 930am-500pm: Our next Bay Area BrainJams event! I have been waiting to announce this for way too long – I am so excited about this BrainJam. We are organizing this day long unconference to bring together Bay Area Social Media and Web 2.0 enthusiasts with members of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. This is a great opportunity for our BrainJams folks to talk to real people who are doing really great work for their communities around the world and help them understand what is possible with the new world of easy to use Web tools. This event will be held at the Parc 55 Hotel as a pre-conference workshop for the NCDD Conference. Due to the costs of the hotel and the lunch that will be provided, there is a fee of $50 for this event to cover the costs that the conference organizers are incurring. In deference to our prior free events, the organizers are offering a reduced fee for this BrainJam (other workshops are priced at $75). I also have a few free passes for those who are willing to contribute their expertise and lend a hand with the workshop, so call me or write me an email to discuss.

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