Further Details on Next BrainJams Event

Wow! I can hardly believe we are doing the first real BrainJams event this Saturday 3Dec2005. Just 72 hours from now, I will be at SRI doing final setup work.

Thankfully, a lot of people have offered to help out and it looks like we will meet our goal of having at least 60 people or so show up, perhaps quite a bit more. At the moment, I know of about 50 or so who are planning on coming and we are still doing new outreach to bring even more people in. As of yesterday, with the addition of Scissor, RateitAll and Keller Williams Golden Gate as Patrons with each putting up $100, we think we have enough money for lunch, snacks and the after party! (though I won’t be drinking so we can keep the bar bill reasonable 😉 Still, it would be nice if we could get just one or two more companies to step up since the suggested donations of $10 are not really rolling in too fast (which is OK as the events are supposed to be free as long as we can sustain this model)

What we really want to ensure though is that we get a diverse crowd of professionals, particularly for the mornings experiment in BrainJamming (my notes are rough and scary, so please only read them if you have the ability to live with ambiguity – I will be building some graphics to explain this later today) In this vein, Andy Kaufman is bringing a friend who is totally outside the technology industry, which lead us both to come up with an idea that should really make the event worthwhile by extending the diversity of the audience. It’s called “Bring-A-Friend”. The simple idea is that every technology person who is coming should reach out to a non-techie friend and invite them to the event. It might be that one opportunity for a significant other or BFF to finally understand a little bit more of what you actually do, as well as a chance for them to meet 24 cool people who are doing important things.

The afternoon sessions in particular should be really interesting and open to all levels of understanding as we talk about how we use the Internet to get things done. This is not how to develop a new technology or program something in Ruby – this is covering things like how to do a viral marketing campaign with the new tools, how to search for a job, how to build a reputation as an expert, how to hack memeorandum (ie get attention from the GeekSet), how to pull off an event with no money, how to build a community, how to tag (and why bother), how to organize knowledge with social bookmarking, how to create a cool podcast, how to keep the family closer when far apart, and how to make money from affiliate sales. These are not the set topics though, this is the direction we want to take the afternoon sessions – as Howard Rheingold says, “what it is —> is —>up to us”.

During lunch, a sheet of paper will be put up on the wall where you will be able to sign up for one of the “Break-Through Rooms” to lead a session. This is not going to be a typical conference session where the person leading will be doing all the talking, nor even one where the leader has to prepare some sort of presentation – the leader will facilitate a conversation (which they will begin with their own personal story and demonstration) on a particular aspect of using emerging Open Web technology to get things done (ie Web 2.0 for those of you still versioning things). As many have pointed out to me, this makes it sort of like a “Web 2.0 User Group” where we share our knowledge of which services we use along with hints, tips and tricks for getting the most out of them. Each session will need a “note-maker” who will be responsible for capturing all the knowledge that is shared – this will hopefully include someone podcasting or shooting video of each conversation as well.

[Please note, no company representatives will be allowed to deliver their canned ‘use case’ pitch. If a company representative wants to participate or lead a session that is totally cool, but they should show how they actually use the service, with their own personal account (as opposed to one with dummy data). We will try to work this out as we go, but I just don’t want it to be a company pitch fest – this is about real people using real solutions that are available today.]

We will end the day with a collective BrainJamming session where we create a MindMap of all the sessions that were held, the key user stories that were shared and the services that people use. This will be a guide to the knowledge discussed at the event as well as the beginnings of a way for us to collectively organize and share knowledge about how real people actually use technology, what tools they use and why they use them. I think this is a pretty amazing opportunity to develop greater levels of understanding between the creators of tools and the people who use them. But since this is an attendee lead event and we are just facilitators, this may change a little bit once we get everyone together. As I said with Web2point1, we just want to set some basic structure and a good intention and watch in amazement as it unfolds.

Any other thoughts? Suggestions for sessions? Go to the event details page and add in your thoughts or simply add a comment here.

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