November 15 I made the pilgrimage to Boston for the Corante Berkman Center Social Architecture Symposium. I've enjoyed reading the reviews. While there were nuggets in the presentations for me the gold was in the event's "structural holes".
i. Lunch with Estee Solomon Gray, co-author with John Seely Brown of the prescient 1995 article "The People are the Company" published in the first Fast Company magazine. The issues and trends they identified a decade ago seemed important but missing context to the Symposium discussion.
ii. Conversations with energetic entrepreneurs building the next generation of software tools, Attensa, and social networking content sites, Gather. While I didn't speak with Seth Goldstein I'm intrigued by his new ventures, AttentionTrust.org and Root/Markets.
iii. Discussions that may have happened if more of the Symposium advisor list were present. Nancy White has revealed the reasons for her absence. John Hagel was unfortunately ill. Having just discovered Hagel's latest working paper written with John Seely Brown, I was looking forward to his perspective. As co-author of NetGain that encouraged a generation of ambitious but unfortunately false numbers in Internet venture business plans, and Networth that foretold the rise of "infomediaries" (perhaps including Seth Goldstein?), Hagel if ahead of his time is always worth reading.
iv. The conversations that could have flowed from more audience participation. Consider that representatives from both IBM and Microsoft, companies leading the way in adopting blogs for changing brand perception and greater corporate transparency, were in the audience. What might we have learnt from them about how social tools are transforming organizations?
v. The presence of other leading, rigorous thinkers about the impact of social tools on the economy and society. Deborah Elizabeth Finn's report of Yochai Benkler's Networked Economy presentation reminded me of his thought provoking presentation two years ago at the Multiples of One conference. Organizers Kate Erhlich and her colleagues did a fabulous job of gathering forward thinkers and innovators for a rich conversation pointing to trends that are still emerging. They even solved the problem of ensuring dialogue in a traditional lecture theater. Using the MIT Media Lab's "talking ball" (including a microphone), literally allowed the right to speak (and be heard), to be passed around the room.
Thank you Corante and the Berkman Center for a wonderfully thought provoking Symposium, if not necessarily in the ways you envisioned.