So what does fractal mean in plain language?
In the social professions that are my milieu – psychology, HR, workplaces – fractal means “walking the talk”. It means using the working procedures you would like to see in an organization to bring those working practices about.
It means delivering democracy through democratic means.
It means having the same pattern of organization throughout the organization.
I attended the Bucks08 Social Media Camp
at Bucks New University in High Wycombe on Saturday 17 May 2008. It was organized by Chris Hambly and kindly hosted by Bucks.
It was an unconference. It is free, and registration is simple on an open wiki. Any one who wants to present, signs up in the room and time slot of their choice. It is gently organized with people changing rooms on the hour as they wish.
Around 60 people converged from as far afield as Brighton, Leicester, Nottingham and Sweden (yes, it was international with people from at least 7 countries there). Personally, I went to sessions on
- online recruiting
- wiki and facebook support for the careers section at University of London
- community management in a newspaper group
- a 2.0 application ‘Sketchbook’ for assisting arts students develop their portfolio from Julia Gaimster
- a double session on metrics
- running fashion shows in 2nd life from Julia Gaimster and Andy Savery
- my own on personal journeys into 2.0.
How was this fractal?
Social media capitalizes on self-organization. We provide a framework where people can “read and write”. Social media is a framework in which the audience has a voice.
An unconference is minimally structured and, far from being disorganized, captures the energy of people with a purpose. So it is fractal in the subject matter is participation and the method of organizing is participative.
And then it becomes fractal again, because participants leave and blog about the conference on their own initiative and using their own resources. Before I had got home, a High Wycombe website designer, Paul Imre, had written up the session on metrics. Dan Thornton wrote up his take on social metrics with a parallel on reflecting on your marriage. Michael Clarke provided a running blog on the same session with comments on the whole day.
And it becomes fractal again, in that Dan & Paul summarized the discussion with the metaphors of marriages and “investing in a dam” to build and release potential. Dan’s metaphor was about managing social media. Paul was talking about deciding how much to invest in social media. In so doing, they effectively advanced the discussion and took it to another level. Within the afternoon, several people had replied, continuing the engagement, which I suspect will continue in other forums too.
Bucks New University must be very proud. They would have been happy, I am sure, with a smoothly organized event. This was so much more: it illustrated the power of social media, it supported a community of practice, it engaged new people, it generated new material.
To use Paul’s metaphor, investment that increases potential and to use Dan’s, when we enjoy ourselves, we come back for more!
PS The next media camp is at SAE in London on 5 July 2008.
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