Archive for conversation

Death Cafes

I've been hearing about Death Cafés for a while. People gathering for conversations about death in each other's homes, or literally in cafes, starting out as strangers in many cases but quickly finding intimacy in the all-too-human stories that emerge from engaging this powerful subject.

Knowing of my interest, my love monkey Steve just sent me a link to a story about them in one of his favorite blogs, The Dish by Andrew Sullivan, but I cut through to the original story Sullivan was blogging about, a story about a Death Cafe at the top of Beachy Head, a famous suicide cliff in Sussex's South Downs where I used to live. It's a fabulous story, so I'll share the link here… it's by Claire Davies, published in Aeon Magazine.

I'd love to hear if anyone has experienced a Death Cafe…


The WWW conference

As I prepare to attend this year's Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco week after next, I find myself curious about the possibilities (I still find the name Wisdom 2.0 extremely evocative and I guess I harbor the secret hope of having my mind blown at the conference and discovering hundreds if not thousands of "lost" members of "my tribe").

One of the pioneers of extraordinary gatherings is Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of the TED conference, and apparently that was just the beginning of his ideas for super-human gatherings. His wwwConference in September 2012 paired particularly interesting duos, placed them on a comfortable couch in front of an exclusive audience (tickets were $16,000 – where's that Press Pass when I need it?) and set them loose with each other.

I have to say I'm impressed by Wurman's courage and his faith in the power of conversation. According to Dan Munro in Forbes, the results were truly inspired. I look forward to hearing these conversations myself and hope they will be made available, as one of the great innovations of TED was making those equally expensive presentations available free to the public.

Wurman's new ideas include Prophesy2025 in Spring of 2013, and the multi-generational Geeks and Geezers Summit in the Spring of 2014, which sounds particularly interesting.

Aspen Medicine, Taos

I have a backlog of Beauty Dialogue posts to write, but this morning I woke up in Taos to find the world covered in snow and suddenly there is only one (click to see her larger)…


Conversation & Business

I just read a post by blogger /consultant Chris Brogan on Cafe-Shaped Conversations, where he explores how social media allows small intimate conversations and how that might or might not be what corporations are interested in, and when they are, how that might not be such a great idea for the rest of us.

As Community Tech Steward of the World Café, I  know that conversation about things that matter is not just a marketing strategy, but one of the keys to human survival. It is in large part conversation (on a number of levels) that will carry us through the formidable global challenges that stand before us now. And online communication tools will no doubt make a key contribution to how we have those conversations.

How exciting it will be to have a President who really understands the power of the individual voice … I can't wait to see how Obama's presidency will effect participatory citizenship and this whole area. Online interaction needs to become a cultural meme that goes beyond digital natives and "geeky types" like me if it is to fulfill its potential.

But back to business, what Brogan and the World Café are calling Café Conversations (small intimate interactions that can connect with and feed into larger collective awareness) are important to large and small companies for many reasons beyond product sales and marketing.

Conversation is now becoming recognized as a core business competency and World Cafés are hosted in corporations just as often as they are with health and educational institutions, government, neighborhood groups, and anywhere else that conversation can increase communication, address challenges or help build a sense of community. It's only a matter of time until many of these conversations are happening online.

You've probably noticed that more and more conferences are moving to an interactive model, based on small group conversation. Increasingly, conference organizers are realizing that attendees are tired of "talking heads". There is so much more to be gained by an approach that calls on the collective intelligence gathered in the room, and engages everyone in a conversation where the "experts" and those in the audience (who are often equally as knowledgeable) are on a par.

So what I'm saying is that there's an analogy here that expands the power of conversation and online communications way out beyond marketing and product sales for businesses, and it's still just beginning.