< DRAFT++ >

Live crowd 🔗ethering. Not a "talk", not a "workshop". Pad + Projector + Steward + Crowd.
    20220212 moved out of 🔗ethering

(Interaction graph)


Actor Actor Steward interactions during talk Steward interactions during talk Other interactions Other interactions

("Person" = Member of Crowd)
("People" = Crowd)
("Steward" = Event steward)
engage and direct->people people->monitor people->predominant reaction to people->listens to monitor->shared screen predominant reaction to->shared screen predominant reaction to->steward listens to->person micro-editing->pad pad->displayed on steward->engage and direct steward->listens to steward->micro-editing steward->outlining (before event) steward->note taking steward->asks question to steward->points to steward->protocol intervention outlining (before event)->pad note taking->pad asks question to->people points to->shared screen protocol intervention->people person->monitor person->note taking person->protocol intervention person->writing own content person->intervention displayed on->shared screen writing own content->pad intervention->steward engage and direct engage and direct people people monitor monitor shared screen shared screen predominant reaction to predominant reaction to listens to listens to micro-editing micro-editing pad pad steward steward outlining (before event) outlining (before event) note taking note taking asks question to asks question to points to points to protocol intervention protocol intervention person person displayed on displayed on writing own content writing own content intervention intervention


1) Facilitator comes on stage that also has a projector
They open the Etherpad link on the network accessible to all.

2) Pad contains an outline facilitator wrote about 15 minutes beforehand
That's basically a few points about the topic.
Starts rummaging!

3) People open laptops, join the pad, and start typing away their thoughts

4) Facilitator curates what's going on, on the pads
Exposes some of the written content; also writes themselves; edits, especially giving thought to indenting etc.
Basically, they're part "live action commentator", part editor, in a way.


Example "workshop" like this:
    (press PLAY and bear with it for ~10 seconds to start moving as it preloads)

Final result:


It needs to feel like a high-spirited, positively manic debate, while several writers collaboratively note it all down, establish a "consensus log".

One of the important parts of the event steward's job is to consolidate & actively enforce note form.
So it helps if you're able to talk + write + MICRO EDIT at the same time.

My repeated experience has often been a slow start in the first 10 minutes  - trying to open the debate fronts, break the distrust of the format, etc. Which reminds me - it really helps to come on stage and paint an initial picture of being an imperfect and "ill prepared" speaker (always my natural state anyway...), probably because it reinforces it is not a talk, and that this is just *a group of people gathered to discuss and orderly notate the shit out of a topic they all found interesting enough to put an hour of best effort into*.

... and then in the later minutes there's only worrying if etherpad/network will break down (etherpad no, networks sometime - so best to have your own).

It has mostly three modes:


Most important is, you have to keep people from talking for more than a minute. Ideally they get to a point where they sketch their point on the screen beforehand, get called out, and just expand it/receive comments in the parallel talk discussion. You always only do one thing: seek to confirm that what's written down, captures what they're saying. Quickly, people seem to get that, and you get stuff like speakers stopping mid-point saying "yeah that's it" when it's been captured, or changing course as others are already reacting to it in writing. In a way, the hypertext & the talking have to keep colliding.

Of course you always prioritize people who haven't spoken and actively seek them out. These are welcome changes in rhythm, and also make people appreciate they have various levels of familiarity across the board. Many know more interesting things than they might thing. "Breeding discussion" is the main work, towards co-learning/educating.

[otherwise just fallback to...]


People who showed up obviously have an interest in the topic. What specifically was that? If nobody is knowledgeable or passionate enough to make points, then our collective reach must be at least asking really worthwhile questions, trying to figure out systemically why we're interested in this thing but "nobody knows anything about it?", etc.

You may ask for shows of hands, try to find the most surprising points that evoke reactions. An example of a good practice here is asking how many have thought of/support X, and then again how many are surprised by this.

This inter-active (hyper-active?) mode of knowledge/discovery has always brought amazing and surprising takeaways for me.

[otherwise just fallback to...]

(III) "TALK MODE" + general discussion

A perfectly noted-down thoughts of somebody that's kind of pretty knowledgeable about the topic. In practice for me, this might happen for a a few minutes at a time but always seems to get back on track.

Also, always seek others who are more knowledgeable than you on the subject, or parts of it. There have always been a few way good, and sometimes it hasn't been easy to find them, often because of their character - maybe they wouldn't ever normally organize a "lecture", but sometimes they end up throwing really great parts of it. As facilitator, you need to fish them out.

I suggest being coffee'd up, to spread that feeling. ;-) Also, keep showing the real-time E2H ( https://e2h.middlemachine.com ) results of the pad as well. "Llook at this actual document we're creating, not just another notes pad!". Importantly and somewhat paradoxically around focus, losing it is prevented by just jumping between topics a lot. You lose momentary "focus on specific topic", but keep a high energy ("group focus"). If the topic is important, the discussion will definitely return to it.

The biggest problem is at the beginning, with people thinking WTF,  we're just jumping from one thing to another. Always one or two might want to quit, but these might be the best people who are passionate about the topics. You ask for patience, give them helms at that point about what their expectation was, and keep them. That's how you "seed" topics, inevitably hooking some people with each, and then just circle around them.

I always publish the pad in advance to try pre-collecting topics, but this does not happen. (It might if people would not always be first-timers to the format though).

At the end you are idealy mediating a bunch of tiny pad wars between many people writing.

Most people switch to having a center of attention somewhere between other people, the steward and the screen. It's also easy to see what to jump back to - people will monitor the screen and react to what's going on.