Yesterday, I returned home from a milestone event, Blawgthink! 2005. A conference focused on the topic of blogging in the legal community, the "unconference" conference was held at the Catalyst Ranch in Chicago. For an idea of what it's like there, just close your eyes (after you've finished reading this sentence) and picture what it would be like if Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory hijacked an Eastern-flavored preschool for adults. Toys all over the place, a lounge that resembled a Sultan's harem, as many chocolate-covered raisins as you can eat (they say you gain 5 pounds on a week cruise: I think I did it in 2 days at Blawgthink!)- simply too cool. Oh, and Wi-Fi: the connection is made.
Blawgthink! was hosted by Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy, two highly impressive minds who built it around the idea that the best part of most conferences is actually the interplay in between the lines. Therefore, the first day of Blawgthink! on Nov 11 consisted of 3 legal blogging tracks attendees could follow and move between: Blogging Basics, Marketing and Client Dev, and Blogging 2.0 (more advanced topics). On day one, I found the presentation of Brandy Karl particularly enlightening as a newbie blogger, in which she did an excellent job of covering all the blogging basics. Also, Knowledge Management by Jim McGee and Jack Vinson simply floored me. The idea that process needs to underly the production of deliverables in knowledge management to a healthy degree is interesting for me as a part of Gyronix and personally.
Day two was setup with the OpenSpace philosophy of people grouping around topics that are relevant for them, with Michael Herman providing guidance. I must say, it was a bit surreal to see people walking in and out of groups at whim- I don't think dry lectures in a hollowed out hotel conference room will ever compare with the constant chaos-2-order-2-chaos-2-order of Blawgthink! Day 2. But I think it's a more accurate reflection of our psychology that we swarm around topics that interest our minds most at any given moment as opposed to the stale one-size-fits-all mega-loaf of typical events, ensuring that the minds present in a conference are as close to perfectly allocated as possible. Just think where most peoples' minds are at traditional conferences ("I feel guilty dating both Hilton sisters", "I do kind of look like Vin Diesel"---wait, that's what I'd be thinking)- they're not even in the room.
At the beginning of the conference, following Mindjet's Olivia Woodard's excellent introduction to MindManager, I presented the Gyronix System to the entire audience of Blawgthink, a sharp bunch who really seemed to grasp its implications for the legal community instantaneously. My heart was truly warmed by the overall mapping spectacle at Blawgthink!: At any moment you could be in one of the rooms and see people passionately mapping their worlds. As Hobie Swan of Mindjet pointed out at the Mindjet Blog, the focus wasn't on mapping, but simply using a great tool set to convey information and collaborate to produce an overall body of knowledge. In fact, the presentation maps from day 1 and group maps from day 2 were consolidated and made available to attendees of Blawgthink!. Therefore, if they use the Gyronix System (the combination of MindManager and ResultsManager with a system of best practices), the attendees can use the same tools to operationalize between Lexthink! events as they do to strategize while attending them!
I look forward to a rich future of non-traditional conferences from Lexthink! and the use of tools such as blogging, MindManager and ResultsManager to turn attendee groups into persistent, motivated swarms of brilliant minds capable of tackling great issues.