In the past two years, Lilia Efimova, Sebastian Fiedler and I have been organizing a number of day long workshops / salons under the name BlogWalk. With ten sessions on three continents, in eight countries, we brought together roughly 200 people for day long dialogues on different weblogging related subjects.
To me it seemed that the energy I felt at the first two, three sessions was less present in the later sessions. Not because the newness of it all for me was gone; meeting groups of interesting people face to face is always inspiring. I think for me at some point my collector’s attitude kicked in. My focus shifted a bit from doing great days of dialogue, to adding another city, another country, to the list of our travelling circus of BlogWalks.

Window wiki during Blogwalk London
Windows Wiki During BlogWalk London, Sept. 2004

Sebastian Fiedler expressed some of the same doubts I felt in the last six months or so, so when he visited us earlier this month for Lilia’s and Robert’s wedding, we took it as a great opportunity to have a little rethink of the BlogWalk concept.
Over at Seblogging you can read the notes Sebastian took, and the conclusions we arrived at. But before looking forward, I like to look back at the things that got in the way of my personal ‘original BlogWalk experience’.

  • Eagerness sometimes resulted in hastily organised sessions, leaving too little time for inviting the right people, and too little time to collectively prepare the day.
  • A number of sessions were only done by one of us three, making it much less a collaborative experience
  • Doing BlogWalks in conjunction with major conferences works good for getting a broader group at the day, but distracts as well: people flying in or out during the day, a few just looking to kill some spare time in a nice and useful way.
  • Loosing sight of people, and especially of the spin-offs and effects meetings had for us.
  • Staying at people’s homes around a BlogWalk adds a lot to the experience, but takes time to prepare, and thus we ended up in hotels more and more.
Snowball fight blogwalk Chicago
Snowball Fight at BlogWalk Chicago, Jan. 2005

So, looking forward Sebastian and I would like to re-energize our BlogWalk efforts:

  • BlogWalks are facilitated by us as a team
  • Themes will be chosen from the whole of social media, and not so much tool-centered as opportunity or problem focussed
  • Three BlogWalks a year creates the needed preparation and follow-up time
  • Choosing two fixed European cities lets us build on previously found local resources
  • One BlogWalk will ‘travel’, and we’ll look for local groups and institutions to help host it. For these meetings we will be looking for support for basic travel costs for our team
  • These three BlogWalks will be stand alone events. If opportunities arise to do something in conjunction with a conference it will be considered, but the three stand alone events have priority
  • We want to continue to voluntarily spend time and effort on organizing and facilitating BlogWalks
  • BlogWalks will continue to be by invitation only and free of charge
  • We want to track and document more of what BlogWalk meetings help spark.
Magic of the Screen Blogwalk Innsbruck
Magic of the Screen During BlogWalk Innsbruck, Jun. 2005

All in all I think the ideas and thoughts we formulated help us create new energy and organize BlogWalks with a renewed sense of fun. It also means that to me this is no longer an experiment, it is something we do as part of our, mine at least, efforts to knit a wider European network of thinkers and doers from different fields. Something we need to help leverage our European diversity as fuel for innovative thinking.
A first practical result of leaving the experimental phase behind is that we will start moving the current BlogWalk wiki and BlogWalk website from their current subdomains to two new urls, blogwalk.net and blogwalk.eu.
I’d appreciate any thoughts or comments you might have concerning BlogWalk.
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Photo credits: Windows wiki London by Riccardo, Snowball fight by AKMA, Magic Screen by Sebastian Fiedler, all under Creative Commons.