Open Space Technology is a method of organizing meetings and conference. It is a participation driven meeting where the agenda is created by those in attendance. The idea came about from an Episcopal priest and civil rights activist Harrison Owen in the 1980’s. These meetings are self organizing. While the sponsor selects the topic and keeps the conversation on topic the conversation is emergent and may address many areas around the topic of conversation or may focus on a particular area depending on the people in attendance and flow of conversation.
There are four principles that apply to open spaces. Whoever comes is the right people. Whoever is attracted to the same conversation are the people who can contribute most to that conversation because they care. So they are exactly the ones for the whole group who are capable of initiating action. Whatever happens is the only thing that could’ve happened. Each person is limited by their own pasts and expectations. The idea is to focus on the present and not get bogged down in what could’ve or should’ve happened. When it starts is the right time. The creative spirit has its own time, and our task is to make our best contribution and enter the flow of creativity when it starts. When it’s over, it’s over. Creativity has its own rhythm. So do groups. Pay attention to the flow of creativity not the clock. When you think it is over, ask: Is it over? And if it is, go on to the next thing you have passion for. If it’s not, make plans for continuing the conversation.
At DevSpace there were 3 areas set aside for open spaces each session. Not all of the spaces and sessions filled up and some were added throughout the conference. BJ hosted two sessions, one on lunch and learns and the other on conference attendance and inspiring more people to attend. The second is what we’re about to hear. Throughout the session some people joined and others left. So the people introducing themselves at the beginning were not the only ones participating. The group is full of speakers, sponsors, and regular attendees. It is a great mix and really captures the heart of an open space.
Open Spaces are a way for conferences to add more value and specifically address attendee interest than just the chosen speakers. Anyone can sponsor a session. Topics do not have to be around technology. At DevSpace there were Open Space session about martial arts, foster parenting, and of course beer. They are also a great way to meet other developers with similar interests. If you aren’t comfortable as the center of attention such as with speaking but have something to share hosting an open space can provide that in an informal friendly manner.
The Infinity of Things
“Space” is an open Internet-of-Things (IoT) ecosystem supporting the development and distribution of innovative IoT products. It is open to all Internet of Things creators from manufacturers and app developers to retailers and mobile carriers with the goal of providing a bigger, better, faster way to bring IoT products and services to market. They even have special spaces for targeting IoT solutions to kids and the elderly. They provide services for IoT development and release including platforms, manufacturing support, distribution and logistics, and billing.
Tricks of the Trade
Don’t just wing it. Plan ahead when you go to conferences, including dealing with your introvert hangover.