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The Year of Understanding

Someday I hope we can do this. It was originally a thought for 2014. Maybe we should update it to 2018 since it’ll be 50 years since Doug’s demo?…

 

The Year of Understanding

The Year Of Understanding (YoU) is a call to action over a year, to organise and galvanise events based on the theme of generating deeper understanding of major aspects of our lives and of each other.

Think of it as an olympic year of the mind, heart and soul.

Why 2014

2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first World War which claimed the lives of 10,000,000 people. It is however, recognised that there may not be enough time for YoU to happen in 2014.

The Philosophy

The philosophy behind YoU is based on the belief that knowledge and dialog together generate understanding and tolerance. What is science, medicine, ethics, religion, culture and art but ways of understanding others and ourselves?

We have wisdom and technology to significantly decrease suffering through illness and conflict as well as to increase happiness and belonging which we need to share more widely. A year dedicated to ‘understanding’ can be a strong catalyst for increasing the amount the dialog between people of different walks of life, interests, perspectives, cultures and beliefs.

The Aim

The aim of YoU will be to increase excitement and enthusiasm for people to generate deeper understanding, for people to be more actively involved in learning about the world. This is not a call for more lecturing, this is a call for collaborative learning and dialog, for more and more people to ask more questions – and to really listen to the the answers, neither accepting what is said at face value, nor reflexively denying other points of view.

Desired Outcomes

The outcomes will be more people feeling closer to their environment and to other people. Science will no longer be something cold and ‘out’ there, which it is for many, medicine no longer scary, ethics, religion and culture becomes ways of understanding world views, not differences which divide us. The lasting effect will be years of understanding.

What Can Be Done / Events

There is a large scope for possible events for the year which can be categorised into major opening and closing events, large presentation based events (talks, exhibitions), dialogues (symposia) and location based events (exhibitions, tours, student exchanges), all both physical and virtual.

The opening festival day around the world (online as well as physical) should have the Olympic Stadium in London taking the lead, with music, talks, exhibitions and art, setting the tone for the year and functioning as a major flagship event to raise awareness of the theme of the year, encouraging more to join. The closing Festival(s) should mirror the opening festival with hopefully many events around the world.

Online Support

The online presence will be crucial to make this a truly interactive, large scale dialog which means that new ways of facilitating online dialog will have to be researched, tested and developed, resulting in richly interactive discussion systems to make sure everyone is truly heard. These systems will naturally be completely open.

More standard online support, all open, and built from open source components, will include:

– Website with recorded video of events at www.yearofunderstanding.info

– Website and Smart Phone Apps for information and event listings.

Making YOU a Big Deal

We hope Congress will declare 2014 the Year Of Understanding. We hope the UN will do the same. More importantly though, we believe private companies must take the banner and champion understanding.

Who Is Behind It

The initial idea was first aired by Frode Hegland, a Norwegian software developer and lecturer at London College Of Communication. The core planning team includes…

We hope founding organisations will include technology companies and cultural, scientific institutions.

Why Be Involved

The YoU is an opportunity for anyone who wants to improve the world to come together in a focused way to improve the lives of all of us. Be an Understanding Ambassador, and help raise awareness this year, for a massive year next year.

What We Can Provide

Currently we are organising in the time available to us, but with continued support there will be a staff organising the events of 2014 and building the organisational and open software systems to support these events.

Organisation Structure

The organisation structure will be distributed, with large focused events being organised by the core committee and further coordinated events can be put up by anyone who wishes to join in, in a organised way.

The British Comic Relief model with locally organised events is an inspiration. There will be larger events, but anyone can take part, by registering with www.yearofunderstanding.info where others can easily find out what is taking place in their neighbourhoods.

Maybe there will be a licensed logo to go with it, which companies have to pay for the right to use, to help non-profits do more for the year. The Organisation will be a registered charity.

Proposed Categories Of Understanding.

The initial categories are science, medicine, ethics, religion, culture and art. This is not a final list – input from those taking part in the organisation is expected to modify the list and it may very well be decided not to break it into categories at all, this is preliminary thinking.

Year Of Understanding

it starts with YoU

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Thoughts relating to large-scale collaboration to collectively understand and solve urgent, complex problems.

This post is my stab at brining together some of the work of Dino Karabeg and Sam Hahn into a framework or at least a list. Comments are encouraged and appreciated. 

Collaboration is a matter of aligning intents and providing the means for actions and dialog to take place. 

Aspects

Scope

 

There needs to be an agreement as to Why collaborate, what the Goal will be and how to measure how successful the collaboration is. This is absolute basic but sometimes ignored as being ‘too obvious’ whereas participants have their own, different reasons for the collaboration and that might be ok, as long as they are not in such different directions that they will pull the team apart.

•  Why collaborate. From Dino’s perspective this would be to advance the ideas, working practices – and most importantly – the ethos of Polyscopy of which the effort to understand how a better – more sustainable and equitable world, can develop while we are careening into the future with only ‘candles for headlights’.  Sam is a proponent of what he refers to as collaborology  which addresses how to collaborate. 

•  Definition of Goal. 

•  Definition of Scope. 

•  Definition of stakeholders.

•  How to measure Success.

Individual Responsibility

 

Sam Hahn has developed a system for Communication and Commitment to Collaboration which provides a position on the collaborators commitments listed above. The system involves filling in and ’signing’ a commitment form.

•  Take full responsibility. Taking responsibility for bringing the project forward, within assigned roles and in general.

•  Engagement. Active engagement, emotionally and practically, is crucial for actions to happen.

•  Take ownership of mutually agreed-upon roles

•  Be accountable for our roles, actions, outcomes, attitudes and influence.

•  Know what roles we fill, what roles other fill and how to switch roles when appropriate.

•  Self awareness and self-questioning instead of close minded. This includes actively listening to others when there is a disagreement. The reason for including this here is as a reminder that it’s crucial to take full responsibility and ownership, the successful collaborator must also accept their own limits and work with others particularly when they disagree and when it’s difficult, accepting criticism with joy – since when are realise we are wrong, is the only real time we grow.

Group Cohesion

 

Group cohesion is fostered through keeping organising principles shared by having active and honest dialog, to make sure everyone can fulfil their Individual Responsibilities, as listed above. 

•  Have rules of engagement as to how to deal with each other, posted somewhere easily available.  

•  Have a clear timeline with agreed upon frequency of contact.

•  Commitment to clear communication where the speaker takes responsibility for being as clear and useful as possible, while also being concerned with not wasting the audiences time, and the audience makes an effort to really understand what the speaker is actually trying to communicate. 

•  Know and buy in to what work methods will be used.

Knowledge Creation & Sharing

To support the melding of different people’s mindsets, backgrounds, expectations, other commitments and so on, a shared pool of knowledge about all relevant aspects of the project must be created and maintained, as part of the collaboration process itself. 

•  Have shared information resources including the following from Sam Han’s list of 8 Artefacts: 

1 Contacts List – Who are we and how can we contact each other?

2 Glossary – What terms do we use and what do they mean?

3 Project Charter – Why does this project / team exist?

4 Rules of Engagement – How do we work with each other?

5 Chronolog – Communications, esp meetings notes

6 Action Item Tracking System – How do we track what needs to be done?

7 Calendar – What happens when

8 References – Links to other related and relevant material

? Perhaps also shared status

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Thoughts on Collaboration (version 1)

Update version: http://wordpress.liquid.info/thoughts-relating-to-large-scale-collaboration-to-collectively-understand-and-solve-urgent-complex-problems/

Collaboration is a matter of aligning intents and providing the means for actions and dialog to take place. 

There is a big difference between small groups (2- about 7 people) and large or massive scale collaboration, where trust and other issues need to be more in the system in larger groups than in the inter-personal relationships in the smaller groups.

The aspects of collaboration includes personal behaviour, organising principles for the group and tools/media.

Scope

 

•  Why collaborate

•  Definition of Goal

•  Definition of Scope

•  How to measure Goal

There needs to be an agreement as to Why collaborate and what the Goal will be and how to measure it. This is absolute basic but sometimes ignored as being ‘too obvious’ whereas participants have their own, different reasons for the collaboration and that might be ok, as long as they are not in such different directions that they will pull the team apart.

Personal Attitudes

 

•  Responsibility. Taking responsibility for bringing the project forward, within assigned roles and in general.

•  Be engaged. Active engagement, emotionally and practically, is crucial for actions to happen.

•  Be self aware and self-questioning instead of closed minded. This includes actively listening to others when there is a disagreement. 

•  Be accountable for our roles, actions, outcomes, attitudes and influence.

•  Know what roles we fill, what roles other fill and how to switch roles when appropriate.

Communication

•  Have rules of engagement as to how to deal with each other

•  Commitment to communicate clearly in a shared environment

•  Know and buy in to what work methods will be used

Knowledge Creation & Sharing

•  Have shared information resources

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