Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brainjams Berkeley: Your Input Required

As you may have already noticed on our registration form for the Berkeley event this Saturday February 25, we have added in 2 new questions - 1) provide three words to describe yourself and 2) what do you want to learn today? This coupled with the question, what roles do you play (or what hats do you wear?) The goal here is to identify elements of what Lee Felsenstein calls secondary information - the meta stuff about why someone would want to learn from you and who you are. This information will be printed in the program (please register before FRI afternoon!) along with your blog URL so that everyone in attendance will know who else is there and what they can offer.

We are taking this even further at the event itself, but I need your help to figure some things out. The key aspect of secondary information is that it leads to the exchange of primary information (the knowledge, insights, and wisdom we share with each other) by allowing others to more easily identify who can be of most value to them. In working through this with Lee, we realized that there is another element that goes beyond the directory and the personal conversation - that is usually found on a name badge and more often than not contains name, title and company. But in an environment such as BrainJams, this has little practical value (though it could be invaluable for some). As with ships who use flags to communicate with one another visually, we feel that this form of 'signaling' can be greatly improved upon with some basic structural changes.

You can see the key elements in the sample badge I have put up on Flickr. This involves name, primary 'hat' worn, three words, haves and needs.

I really need you to comment here and contribute to the identification of the core values for hats worn and what people have/need. We don't expect to be fully encompassing with these lists as people and situations are way too complex - we want simplicity that can be adaptable after the first few breaths of conversation occur after these simple signals are received. BTW - A lot of this thinking on my part comes from the days of First Tuesday where entrepreneurs wore red lanyards, VC's wore green lanyards and service providers wore yellow.

My initial list of roles/hats are:
  • Creator
  • Financial
  • Technologist
  • Entrepeneur
  • Social Advocate
  • Human
  • Contributor
  • Idea Maker
  • Worker Bee
  • Marketer
  • Leader
Obviously there could be many more - but I really want the core categories under which all the others could fit. Certainly leaders could come from within any of the other items, and often managers are not necessarily leaders, but the idea here is that these categorizations match the primary role that an individual plays.

Wants and Haves are even more difficult in this regards, but this list is even more important to figure out. The idea is that the list for haves and needs is the same list. Individuals will be able to choose colored sticky dots to place on their name badges in the appropriate area (have or need).
  • Ideas
  • Connections
  • Money
  • Time
  • Technical Skills
  • Knowledge
  • People Skills
  • Advice
  • Jobs
Again, the idea is simplicity - we need to get to the core of these key signaling issues. Please, even if you have never left a comment before, please do so now - it can really contribute to the quality of this event and many many others. I know the concept is essentially an analog version of the nTag (which will never be viable in amateur events due to cost constraints) so I am hopeful more of you have thought about this than I have...


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