The Social Age Safari: Communities and Stories

The Social Age Safari starts today: it’s fully co-created three-day conference. We have three distinct communities, one in the room, one online, and the rest of the world itself. Through the rest of this week, I’ll be #WorkingOutLoud as we run the Safari, sharing my own learning, narrating what’s happening across these communities, and trying to be bold and unafraid to fail.

The Social Age Safari - Community and Stories

The whole event is an example of Scaffolded Social Learning. A series of formal interventions, surrounded by, and infused with, a series of co-creative spaces. The scaffolding in this instance creates 15 spaces for sense making. The main sense making spaces are run as hack events, so the structure is one of the time and action: 45 minute sprints, 15 minute huddles, and an agreed approach to sharing our learning.

Scaffolded Social Learning - the overarching narrative

A scaffolded Social Learning solution will include both bubbles and boxes, a combination of formal and social spaces

The creative sessions that surround these main sense making spaces explore communication, creativity, and storytelling. These, again, are run as dialogues between people with experience in the room and the wider community.

We have a number of facilitating roles: storytellers in the room, and in the wider community. Crucially, their role is not to write the story, but to facilitate the group sharing its own. There is no consensus that we are driving to, but rather an opportunity pass to chart our differences and our consensus.

Scaffolding and Storytelling

Much of this is being prototyped: although I have written about and prototyped many individual aspects, this will be by far the way the largest application of this so far, so I expect much of it to head down an emergent, and quite possibly unexpected track.

Within the room itself, is easy for us to gauge the pace and tempo, the energy and momentum. Within the online community, the clues and cues that we have a far less obvious. At its simplest level, we can see what is being written, what is being shared, what is being asked. We can quantify the number of people viewing live broadcasts, and we can see the questions that they write. We can live video stream both in and out of theSocial Age that may simply be a measure of the activity of a few, not truly an understanding of the co-creative energy within a group.

Indeed there is a risk that what we will simply be doing is generating an interaction between the people in the room, and individuals out of the community. That’s a good type of energy, but not necessarily truly co-creative one. To be truly co-creative, we need to design the ways that the group in the online community can carry out sense making activities themselves, and share their story back into the room. I see that is one of the key challenges for us today and through the rest of this week.

The 3 levels of narrative

Another challenge will be differentiating between are working out loud musings, and the narrative of our story itself, so in the language of three levels of narrative that I use the difference between the co-creative story, and the organisational story.

The co-creative story is our sense making discussion. The organisational story should be the story that we write as a group, a meta-narrative of the discussions in the room and in the various communities.

Again, under the pressure of time, I’m interested see how it works out. One risk is that we are just noisy, adding noise into the system rather than clarity. It may be that we need to differentiate our spaces further, indeed this was an internal discussion in the design process. My preference has always been to have the working out loud spaces, sense making spaces, fully open, so that people can see behind-the-scenes and listening to those conversations. So whilst there are 24 broadcast events through the three days, only a small number of them are billed as ‘formal’. I suspect that this is an area we will need to refine.

So here we are, ready to start the very first Social Age Safari: and not sure how it will work out, but I know that we will try to share our learning as we go.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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10 Responses to The Social Age Safari: Communities and Stories

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