As some of you know, I am working with Rebecca to create a learning network experiment among civic participation funders. We had a design call today and got into a really interesting discussion that directly followed the bootcamp discussion yesterday – how do you create a virtual space that is as engaging and dynamic as an in-person space? Is this possible? What are some of the principles and technologies to support it?

I’m intrigued about getting people’s pictures into the mix somehow after Eugene’s suggestion. We’re also going to use breakout technology to “create floor time” even within a conference call. And we all decided that it was critical that people “know who’s in the virtual room” so despite desires to be open, we are going to start with a closed, invite-only room where you know your audience. Since this is an initial experiment, this feels much safer.

At the same time, I would like to experiment with the dynamic of “eventually, it can all be public UNLESS you ask for something to be confidential”. This is a 180 from the way we as funders usually operate. One of our design team members brought up the fact that this might help us realize, most of the things we talk about are actually ok to share and isolate when we’re really needing to be secretive, rather than defaulting to “confidential space” which is our norm. Holding an interesting tension here between needing to know who’s in the room and wanting to flip our default.

Would love to hear if anyone has thoughts on positive virtual experiences in the past, or even qualities of great meetings that could be translated into a virtual format.