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by Jay Fienberg

PlaNetwork conference, Social Network Software 1 panel, part 1

posted: Jun 7, 2003 6:00:10 PM

Blogging the PlaNetwork conference in San Francisco.

People were all over the place after the Digital Identity session. Lots of people spontaneously broke off into smaller ad-hoc groups to discuss their ideas or issues, or their issues with the ideas, or their ideas about the issues. I probably have a lot to say about this stuff, but I have been just listening to learn for now.

I probably shouldn't mention the names of all the people whose conversations I overheard: that seems kind of rude since they weren't actually talking to me and I was only getting fragments of what they were saying (and getting it largely out of context). But, I will say that there are a lot of really smart people here who have obviously really thought about the social aspects of the Internet, and/or of organizing progessively oriented communities. Pretty amazing in that regard.

The next panel is about to start. It is supposed to have Victor Grey, Peter Kaminski (whom I just met for the first time), Doug Schuler, and Mako Hill. There is already a slide up (looks like from Doug) with the title: A Pattern Language for Living Communication: Interim Report on a Pragmatic "Utopian" Enterprise.

I don't think that I mentioned that there are a lot of students (some direct) of Buckminster Fuller here. At the library where I used to work, we had a whole section of Fuller materials, which I always thought were pretty cool. But, I never realized that there were still lots of people out there who were trying to follow through with his ideas. Not sure if there are actually lots, or if they are all just here. But, it is neat.

Ok, not actually a panel as much as four sequential presenters. Doug is up first with the slides (which are on the web, maybe on his site some place?)

Doug is talking about the different social groups that tend to be in their own niche. They are not part of the same movement and miss out on being part of larger movement.

Communication systems are flawed. Asymmetric, distracting, not socially and environmentally supportive, useful information hard to find, corporations and government controls, not oriented towards civil society.

He (with his Public Sphere project) is working on a pattern language for communication. Developing a software system to support their work. Explaining what a Pattern Language is (and about Christopher Alexander, the inventor of the Pattern Language concept), and how they are working to create one for communication.

They have people posting patterns on their site, with community members as editors. Their patterns so far are online. They have all kinds of community and civic indicators. This will be a resource that people find useful.

They are trying to realize that this whole movement is quite large, larger than any of the individual pieces. Not sure how useful it is going to be, but seeing interesting results already. He is going through various patterns they have collected and many they know are missing. Sounds interesting, and something to read about online. They have plenty of room for more participants.

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Comment by: JohnKellden ·
posted: Jun 8, 2003 6:01:54 AM

Agree, interesting conf. I especially like the use of blog, wiki, community, purple marks, and even more importantly the mix of people seem very conducive to the flow of the event, I´m only participating virtually here and there, and if there´s one slight thing to criticize is its tough to feel "inside". Would have loved to attend IRL. Still a great event with a lot of potential for future development.

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