Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tilburg part 2

The jazz-and-gado-gado-fueled conversation in Tilburg with Aldo de Moor was permeated with his ideas about “activating engagement.” This is what’s needed to activate a collaborative effort, especially over the web, where many start with great ideas and tools, then peter out. Active engagement is what makes such efforts rise to the level where things start jumping, infused with active energy.

We did a short Visual Explorer (VE) session on the question of “what does it take to activate an argumentation effort?” We spent less than ten minutes on that exercise, but even in that time there was a rush of energy and insight. We built on each other’s readings of the pictures we selected (hands on African drums and seabirds taking off in flight), with that rush of cascading insight that characterizes a successful VE session.

It reminded me of what motivates me in the work I’ve pursued – that moment of ignition, when engagement in dialogue, co-inquiry, synergy takes place. Without engagement there is no knowledge art as I think of it, because it’s inherently collaborative and participatory. It’s what happens when people work, talk , think, and shape a representation together, of something they care about, something that does or will symbolize the dimensions and nuances of their interests and creativity. I love those moments when the spark strikes, and when it gets reflected and embodied, even temporarily, in the something in the middle, the representation that they are holding in their hands.

That is one of the things that's so good about Visual Explorer. Somehow it really helps bring forth what people care about, what activates them in their life and work, and gives them a means to engage with each other and build off each other’s insights and excitement. The pictures themselves become touch points, almost talismans, even for those brief moments. At least that’s what can happen when the engagement is activated.

1 comment:

chuck said...

Hello Al, we are currently taking a serious run at building a web interface for Visual Explorer that supports collaboration, teams, etc. Would love to get your feedback when we have a prototype to look at--hopefully soon.
Chuck Palus