Do you know of any work, Valdis or Marc to map scientific networks (who’s collaborating / publishing with / citing / getting funded by whom in which field) as a means of discovery? E.g. if you wanted to explore the current developments in a field of science you’re not a part of yourself, to explore who is currently core, a new comer, or an interesting boundary spanner in a field.

IWC Amsterdam day 2 focused on doing. We started with a round of idea pitches that the dozen people present intended to work on, as well as listing things people could assist with.

IndieWebCamp Day 2All work ideas on a ‘windows wiki’

Then we all worked in different constellations until lunch, which we enjoyed at Hannekes Boom. Lunch, just like yesterday, took a bit more time as conversations were animated. We got back to work later than planned therefore and moved our time for demo’s correspondingly. Demo”s were live streamed, with Frank joining us remotely. With a final group picture we closed Indiewebcamp Amsterdam.

Lunch Day 2During lunch

On the train home I am jotting down notes for future editions.

Find the local others
First of all, while we did have more local, meaning Netherlands based participants than last time, we didn’t get any tangible interest from the networks Frank and I have access to. Without the interest of the wider international Indieweb community and holding the event in conjunction with two similarly themed international conferences the event would not have been a success (We had just over 20 people on day 1).
Though for the Utrecht event last spring it might have been because we announced it relatively late, this was definitely not the case for the Amsterdam event. This I feel at least partly comes from not being clear enough in explaining the intent and purpose of Indieweb. That is most likely why three of us dutchies worked on Dutch language texts to draw more people in. E.g. by avoiding jargon until you’re sure the reader gets what you’re saying.

A better on-ramp for new participants
Organising an indiewebcamp is fun and not particularly difficult if you have done small informal events like barcamp before. I think we do need to become better at catering to all levels of proficiency so we can be more inviting to those we think we want to include, especially locally. Perhaps by having a few preset intro sessions as a track you can announce, in contrast to the otherwise unconference approach.

Eventbrite not fit for this purpose
Both for the IndieWebCamp Utrecht and for this Amsterdam edition I used Eventbrite for registrations. This I will not do again. First it feels like a clash with the IndieWeb spirit, and there are IndieWeb ways for this available. More importantly it leads to fake and spam registrations, as well as a higher percentage no-shows. Where for a more formal or bigger event, Eventbrite can be really useful (I’ve used it for organising international conferences with up to 350 participants), for small informal ones like this the promotion Eventbrite itself gives to a listed event through their own channels only creates unwanted noise. Meet-up might be more useful in comparison even, as that is based of building up a group of people, and then host events for them. That fits the model of seeking to create a wider active audience for IndieWeb much better.

Setting a rhythm
I think for next year doing two events is again a good option. We will need to work harder though to get a more local crowd. Having our IndieWeb colleagues from abroad visit us is great, and most welcome (to both ensure connection to the wider community as well as for the enormous experience and technological knowledge they bring with them), but not enough to sustain doing these events. Having two in a year may seem contradictory to this, but it likely can serve to set a more observable rhythm. A drumbeat that can draw in more people, and can mean someone not able to join one event may be motivated to commit to the next one if it’s already on the horizon. I think Frank and I would do well to fix dates early for both events and announce them both at the same time.

Ability to live stream
Being able to stream the sessions is a key element of IndieWeb events, but we’ve now depended both times on existing experience and gear from outside. In Utrecht Rosemary brought everything we needed from Vienna and set it up for us. In Amsterdam she volunteered to do it again but ultimately couldn’t make it. If not for Aaron also participating, we would have gone without live streaming as he happened to have the gear for two simultaneous streams with him.

Have a third organiser
Due to family circumstances the Utrecht edition was mostly done by Frank, and this Amsterdam edition mostly by me. Not a problem, and I felt fine doing it throughout, simply because I’ve done loads of these type of events. Yet, being able to hand-off things to each other makes for a smoother experience all around, especially facilitating during the event itself. Frank and I need to bring a third co-organiser on board I think to be able to set the pace of doing two events next year, and avoid that most of the work falls to just one of us. Again, not because it can’t be done, or was an issue, it really wasn’t, but it is a continuity risk, and it’s more fun together.

Frank during his demoFrank on-screen doing a remote demo of his work today

Before Techfestival‘s speakers and event partners’ dinner Thursday, Marie Louise Gørvild, Techfestival’s Director, and Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, its initiator, said a few words. Thomas cited the Copenhagen Letter from 2017 singling out how our tech needs to be embedded in the context of our democratic structures, and how innovation can’t be a substitute for our sense of progress and impact. The Copenhagen Letter, and the entire Techfestival emphasise humanity as not only the source and context for technology and its use, but its ultimate yardstick for the constructive use and impact of technology. This may sound obvious, it certainly does to me, but in practice it needs to be repeated to ensure it is used as such a yardstick from the very first design stage of any new technology.

20190905_201141At Techfestival Copenhagen 2019

Technology is always about humans to me. Technology is an extension of our bodies, an extension of reach and an extension of human agency. A soup spoon is an extension of our hand so we don’t burn our hand when we stir the soup. A particle accelerator is an extension of our ears and eyes to better understand the particles and atoms we’re made of. With technology we extend our reach across the globe by instantaneously communicating, extend it into the air, into the deep sea, towards the atom level, and into interstellar space. Tech is there to deepen and augment our humanity. In my daily routines it’s how I approach technology too, both in personal matters such as blogging, and in client projects, and apparently such an approach stands out. It’s what recently Kicks Condor remarked upon and Neil Mather pointed to in conversations about our blogging practices, what Heinz Wittenbrink referenced when he said “they talk about their own lives when they talk about these things” about our unconference, and what clients say about my change management work around open data.

Techfestival in Copenhagen takes humanity as the starting point for tech, and as litmus test for the usefulness and ethicality of tech. It therefore is somewhat grating to come across people talking about how to create a community for their tech to help it scale. Hearing that last week in Copenhagen a few times felt very much out of tune. Worse, I think It is an insulting way to talk about people you say you want to create value for.

Yes, some newly launched apps / platforms really are new places where communities can form that otherwise wouldn’t, because of geographic spread, shame, taboo or danger to make yourself visible in your local environment, or because you’re exploring things you’re still uncertain about yourself. All (niche) interests, the crazy ones, those who can’t fully express their own personality in their immediate environment benefit from the new spaces for interaction online tools have created. My own personal blog based peer network started like that: I was lonely in my role as a knowledge manager at the start of the ’00s, and online interaction and blogging brought me the global professional peer network I needed, and which wasn’t otherwise possible in the Netherlands at the time.

20190905_201346Techfestival’s central stage in Kødbyen, during an evening key-note

Otherwise, however, every single one of us already is part of communities. Their sports teams, neighbourhood, extended family, work context, causes, peer networks, alumni clubs, etc etc. Why doesn’t tech usually focus on me using it for my communities as is, and rather present itself as having me join a made up community whose raison d’etre is exploiting our attention for profit? That’s not community building, that’s extraction, instrumentalising your users, while dehumanising them along the way. To me it’s in those communities everyone is already part of where the scaling for technology is to be found. “Scaling does not scale” said Aza Raskin in his Techfestival keynote, and that resonates. I talked about the invisible hand of networks in response to demands for scaling when I talked about technology ‘smaller than us‘ and networked agency at SOTN18, and this probably is me saying the same again in a slightly different way. Scaling is in our human structures. Artists don’t scale, road building doesn’t scale but art and road networks are at scale. Communities don’t scale, they’re fine as they are, but they are the grain of scale, resulting in society which is at scale. Don’t seek to scale your tech, seek to let your tech reinforce societal scaling, our overlapping communities, our cultures. Let your tech be scaffolding for a richer expression of society.

Techfestival fits very much into that, and I hope it is what I brought to the work on the CPH150 pledge: the notion of human (group) agency. and the realisation that tech is not something on its own, but needs to be used in combination with methods and processes, in which you cannot ever ignore societal context. One of those processes is continuous reflection on your tech, right alongside the creation and implementation of your tech, for as long as it endures.

20190907_120354Our group of 150 working 24 hours on writing the TechPledge

Via Jeannie McGeehan, an interesting read. How do you inoculate against online hate speech.

Read Researchers propose a new approach for dismantling online hate networks (The Verge)

The paper, “Hidden resilience and adaptive dynamics of the global online hate ecology,” explores how hate groups organize on Facebook and Russian social network VKontakte — and how they resurrect themselves after platforms ban them.

It depends I think. Critical mass towards what? Local agency? Go mainstream from a niche? Self sustainment of the group? What are your underlying assumptions?

If it’s about self sustaining a group, also have a look at some guidelines I wrote a decade ago on what makes a community of practice work (based on Etienne Wenger‘s work).

My rule of thumb for ‘stable’ groups is about 8 people (say 5-12, but 12 is better for ‘learning’ groups and likely too big for coordinating ‘doing’ groups), and then an ‘uncomfortable’ zone up to 25 or so, where I feel there’s a new equilibrium from 25 to 35 or so (3 times ~8, the uncomfortable zone is more like 2 times ~8, with a risk of splitting in half)

Assuming you’re after a self sustaining group for a niche hobby, I’d say 25-35 people. Depending on a multitude of factors in practice, like frequency of interaction, geographic dispersal, all the stuff in the slides linked above.

Replied to a post by Chris M.Chris M.

What size do you consider “critical mass” for an active community centred around a niche hobby/topic?