Gathering Online

Due to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic measures, it can be beneficial to plan events to happen 100% online, then improvise if something can happen in person.

A few notes from discussions with FoAM network members during autumn 2020.

"Start where you are."
  • What are your strategies for survival given the current condition?

What works for you in online gatherings?

For example:

  • gathering people from around the world
  • more focus and intimacy, less social mingling
  • fostering a sense of belonging to a distributed community
  • don't need ice-breakers as much. people are happy to jump into conversations.

What are the "essential services" in online gatherings?

For example:

  • clear purpose, instructions and rules of engagement
  • tested (and retested) setup
  • good hosts (prepared, knowledgeable, engaging everyone, keeping the rhythm)
  • a redundancy of competent and agile technical support staff
  • interesting worthwhile content and inspiring speakers
  • more regular check-ins to make sure people are comfortable, engaged, connected

  • redundancy of modes of engagement/channels of communication. have multiple alternatives to engage with people with connectivity problems. redundancy in modes of engagement - be prepared to change mode/direction of conversation. have backup plans if things go wrong (what is the minimum? text based chat, sms, letters)
  • a range of formats (keynotes, guided discussions, chill-out rooms, physical education…)

"we're struggling with this together" -> so "let's try stuff"

How do we want to be together?

  • how do you like to connect with people when you can't be physically co-present?
  • what kind of place can we create together? what are its qualities?

Design process

Think about:

  • How can you simplify the design? What is the minimum that would make it work?
  • What are the most appropriate platforms for the purpose, content and atmosphere?
  • Pick the appropriate platforms and Play With The Medium. (eg. for some things Zoom is the best there is. for others it might not be - be clear what the purpose of each session is, and decide on the platform accordingly).
  • How can the participants be more engaged? (eg. moving between formats, contents, group sizes)
  • How can you make the experience lighter, surprising and more playful?

A few playful examples
  • How could the participants 'make the space' together?
  • online multiplayer games
  • connected performances (multiple camera angles, sonic experiments, ambient webcams…)
  • create a map (d&d, choose your own adventure…)
  • VR, AR experiments
  • listening spaces (cameras off)
  • “no talking” spaces
  • sharing a familiar situation remotely - people engaged in the same physical activity (kitchens, bars, reading rooms, fitness rooms…)
  • togetherness through physical objects - DIY kits sent by post beforehand
  • silence is sexy
  • embrace the glitch & delay
  • think about having sufficient breaks (some with activities)

Commit, prepare, then improvise (and+and)

  • Be clear on the purpose and code of conduct for the gathering and each of the sessions, yet make your goals more flexible/adaptive (min-max)
  • Spend enough time planning and crafting clear instructions, then be ready to improvise when things don't go as planned
  • Trust in people's capabilities to self-organise when the purpose and rules of engagement are clear (instructions are important, but don't micromanage).
  • Some things you design might not work. How could you incorporate the 'not working' as part of the process, rather than seeing it as a failure?
  • csaw/gathering_online.txt
  • Last modified: 2021-06-09 13:16
  • by maja