BrainJams Clarity: The Unconference Community


Over the last few months, I have been trying to figure out what we were really going to do with BrainJams, and now I finally know.

We are going to keep it as simple as possible and build BrainJams.org into the Web community for Unconferences. The place where you can go to find events in your local area, resources to make the events possible and a willing community of participants who want to learn from each other rather by sharing their wisdom and insights. In short, a place where people interested in Unconferences can go to share best practices and resources so that their events will be more successful.

While this may seem obvious enough to you, it was a very murky vision for me to see in the proper light. Those of you who know me through personal interaction can probably guess why this was difficult for me. I don’t want to bore you with a rambling personal diatribe at this time, but this indecision stemmed from the depth of my lifelong personal struggles – continuously generating complex visions for how things could be, biting off more than I can chew, wrestling the demons of ADD, fighting off my fears of failure, suffering through the disappointment of past perceived failures and longing to be understood/embraced by a community of my peers. Simply put, my greatest gift is also my greatest weakness, and it makes seeing things simply hard for me. It also kept me asking deeper questions (can the brand work as a plural? does the word brain create the wrong impression?) and kept me striving to be perfect rather than following Nike’s advice to ‘just do it’ instead of talking about it for so long and frustrating those around me.

So I can now finally put the other big ideas into separate buckets and focus on cultivating BrainJams to fill the people’s need that remains unmet today. But I can not do it alone. I really need your help making it real.

To this end, there are many organizational tasks that need to be addressed, but more urgent is the matter of gathering, tagging and organizing resources such as venues that are available, equipment that can be borrowed and people who can help facilitate unconferences like Kaliya. We have established a basic structure within the Drupal site that we launched last week to allow for anyone to join the community and do any of the following tasks:

  • Organize your own event using our site
  • List your event for other people to discover
  • Create a site for your own group
  • Submit resources via quick blog entries (setting up tag feeds soon to also pull from Delicious and working on a resource directory Drupal module)
  • Share your thoughts on what works in which situations via personal blog entries and our collaborative guide for organizing your own Unconference

The topical focus of each Unconference is not important to what we do with BrainJams as we want to support Unconferences across the entire spectrum of thought, discussion and practice. We want to help people find out which formats work best in which situations. We want to help people get the most from bringing people together. We want to see the world made into a better place by people like you who know that Panel discussions and talking heads suck ass. We want to support peer to peer learning exchanges like the one we have proposed for One Web Day. We want to make it easier for someone with a desire to bring people together to share with each other. We want others to benefit from our mistakes, so that they can be more successful.

Wonderful things can happen when real people have real discussions with people who are different from themselves. Talking to people who are similar to you, who share the same perspective as you and hold the same beliefs as you will only reinforce the status quo within an echo chamber. So BrainJams should be about bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and holding constructive dialogue between people with opposing points of view without resorting to calling someone an asshole or behaving like trolls. I believe that if we focus on a few things we have in common with those people with whom we disagree, and respect everyone for their own uniqueness, we can come together to solve all sorts of problems. I believe this idea applies equally well to everyone involved with for profit business, non-profit endeavours, educational pursuits, technology, art and government.

But it all starts with you realizing that you have the power to make a difference and wanting to bring people together to discuss and work on whatever it is that holds your true passion. This is my passion, this is my Noble Pursuit and this is BrainJams, The Unconference Community.

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