July 16, 2020

Opening up in Open Spaces

Reflections on my first discord-salon session & details of the next salon

Last week I created a discord space as a “cozy” space for real-time interactions.

Then on Tuesday I hosted a salon on the topic of Thinking in Public.

The format was intentionally designed to be experimental and slightly chaotic.

  • Everyone joins the #salons audio channel in Discord
  • Everyone loads the same figma file
  • A herd of cursors goes on a tour across the figma file
  • Open discussion

I’ve realized (thank you Brian!) that one of the things I enjoy most is opening people up - opening them up to new ideas, new ways of seeing & more playful perspectives.

And this session was a great opportunity for opening up. Folks really brought themselves to the session - there was a lively and open conversation and it was the most fun I’ve had in ages.

I think the chaotic and unpredictable edge is the thing that helped open up the space - not over-determining the outcome. As per this wonderful newsletter from Vaughn:

A made thing whose experience is overdetermined by its maker—which offers almost no room for personal responses—rarely feels sublime, though it can provoke powerful responses in those who experience it. (Also see: fascist architecture.)

The problem is that the maker is always tempted to overdetermine: to control how the thing made is experienced by others, to reduce the number of ways in which it can be misunderstood. The maker’s instinct to make things as certain as possible in their effect.

Yes! This was the secret sauce that I accidentally stumbled on: by virtue of being messy, chaotic, interactive we created a space that people felt they could be slightly more intimate in.

  • Figma is an open space that feels less confining than slides
  • Audio-only is an open space that feels more intimate than video
  • Discussion feels more open than “presentation”

Was it rough around the edges at times? Sure. But we had a much more engaged and deeper conversation than any “webinar” or “zoom meeting” session I’ve been in recently.

So I’m convinced there’s a future here - I’m going to keep tinkering and experimenting with this combination of discord + figma. Open spaces for opening people up.

Next Salon: Tues @ 1pm ET - Exploring The Indie Consulting Biz Model Canvas

So I’m gonna do it again. This next one is focused on indie consulting. I’ve got a sketch of what an “indie consulting business model canvas”1 looks like and we’re gonna explore, refine and create some canvases between us.

Why? Two reasons:

1) To see your own indie practice in a new light 2) To see other indie practices and share notes

So - here’s the details for the next session:

  1. If you’re not familiar with the business model canvas do a Google - there’s millions of them but they function largely the same way. See here for a simple version 

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This post was written by Tom Critchlow - blogger and independent consultant. Subscribe to join my occassional newsletter: