Saturday, February 10, 2007

New Toy for the Nexus: Attendr

I've written before about a conference I'm planning to attend in March - the Nexus for Change. One of the Nexus organizers, Gabriel Shirley, has created an "Attendr" site for the Nexus. I always get a kick out of these new Web 2.0 toys, so I had to try it out.

One of the features Attendr provides is a tool to indicate people you'd like to meet at the conference. This feature caused me a lot of consternation - not because it is difficult to use, but because it made me ask myself some questions. For example, how selective should I be in listing people? Part of the fun and learning at a conference is meeting people outside your usual circle - people you might never pick out of a directory as someone you just had to meet. So would naming people ahead of time be limiting that emergent experience at the conference? Would those people I named, presently strangers to me, feel weird - like they were being stalked? Would the people I didn't name feel left out?

The safest thing to do was to name no one. Since I'm trying to grow out of doing the safest thing all the time, that choice was easily eliminated. The next thing I tried was naming three people - these were people I've "met" online, but have never actually been in the same physical space with. Okay, that's still pretty safe. So the next thing I did was name everyone on the list. Being the connector that I am, I want to meet everyone anyway! And it seems like it would be a nice thing to see on your Attendr profile that someone wants to meet you. So that's what I finally landed on.

A related feature in Attendr is the ability to indicate who you know at the conference. This is intended as an aid to networking - if Jane wants to meet Larry, and she can see that you already know Larry, it's an easy thing to ask you for an introduction. Again I was faced with questions and dilemmas. Should I name people I've only met online as people I "know?" Will the people I truly have met in person be uncomfortable in any way by having me declare that association publicly? I decided that my virtual acquaintances would go on the "to meet" list, and that anyone brave enough to list their name in Attendr would be brave enough to have my name associated with theirs on the World Wide Web.

Gabriel writes about Attendr and provides a brief user guide on his blog, Dancing Fish. If you're going to the Nexus, check out Attendr as part of your pre-conference experience!


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Blogger Keith Instone said...

Ok, so I am not as special as I thought - you want to meet everyone, not just me. (^:

I too want to meet everyone, in general. But I was planning on using the "I want to meet this person" differently - only for people that I have specific things I want to talk to them about.

So while I do want to meet you Tina, I have not "researched" you enough to know what to talk about. I am sure we will find something in common at BGSU next month regardless of this new technology we are using.

5:16 PM  
Blogger tina said...

Keith, I see from your Blogger Profile that you are 251 years old. That right there is a conversation starter - I'm sure we'll have no difficulty discovering things to talk about!

As for being special, take the sage advice of my 8-year-old son who says, "Remember, you are unique - just like everyone else."

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

5:47 PM  
Blogger Keith Instone said...

I fixed my blogger profile. I was just converted from old-blogger to blogger-google and obviously a few bits and pieces did not convert properly.

See you in BG.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Gabriel Shirley said...

Tina, thanks for posting your thoughts about Attendr. I find it interesting that a little web site can cause such mental gymnastics!

My own way of approaching it comes from Angeles Arrien: Pay attention to what has heart & meaning.
If it feels important to connect with someone coming to the conference, it probably is.

And I think it's next to impossible to stop serendipity from happening, so I look forward to all the folks I'll meet by being in the right place at the right time.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Nancy White said...

Hey, we'll meet!

2:35 PM  

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