Does anyone out there remember PlaNetwork? It was a fabulously geeky conference that had a good run back a few years ago now. I loved its combination of high geekery and values-based idealism. I remember meeting someone through pre-event communications that I collaborated with to build a beautiful altar/centerpiece in the middle of the conference room, and dancing afterwards to music I'd never heard before under a projected screen of Electric Sheep images. It was that kind of "happening". Definitely a bit "hippie" and not slick by any means, but deeply sophisticated on many levels, not least technologically, and extremely satsifying.
There's another event that has sprung up in the San Francisco bay area in the last couple of years called Wisdom 2.0, and I've been watching it with great anticipation.
Given the fabulously descriptive name, I imagined Wisdom2.0 would be something related to my own passion for a conscious use of the internet but I have been a little dissapointed to see it turn out what appears to be a fairly standard conference format in its first two years of existence, albeit with a rather wonderful mix of spiritual and technology gurus.
The disappointing thing is that these leading lights seem to be giving siloed talks (nothing about how spirituality might inform technology, or the two might be employed together, for example) in the same old way (talking heads on a stage – nice heads and some nice talks, but still up there on a stage with a passive audience, just listening).
Those of you who know me, know I've been Director of Communications for the World Café for the last seven years, which has been the "go to" model for transformative conferences with real engagement; where the wisdom in the room is revealed among us. I even started weDialogue, my virtual events hosting business (for webinars, conferences, conversations) using the World Café model. So you can imagine why I have been alert, waiting for them to "get it" (they did support a "unconference " at last year's event where World Café was used, and from all reports it was well received, so I'm hopeful).
In fact, feedback from the 2012 event seems to have shaken things up a bit, and it appears we're in for something different this year. The guiding question they're promoting for 2013 is "How do we live with greater presence, meaning, and purpose in the age of technology?", which is a big step closer to something I'm really interested in. I understand they're also piloting space for interactive breakout sessions based on shared interests (birds-of-a-feather groups), and creating cohort groups for attendees to work within throughout the conference. Maybe not quite as elegant as World Cafe, but definitely movement in the right direction.
So I've bought my ticket, and am feeling excited – the anticipation is definitely back and I'm optimistic. Is anyone else going? I would love to meet up and see you there. And if you were there in 2011 or 2012, I'd be curious to hear about your experience. What was it like? Have I missed the point? What did you find most valuable?