Time to start writing

from the gigahands-make-nanowork dept.
ChrisPhoenix writes "(This was written as a letter to Foresight leadership; Chris Peterson asked us to get Nanodot feedback.)

In a spontaneous group that formed Sunday night after the recent Foresight Senior Associates Gathering, four of us discovered that we all felt similarly: that the time has come to build on the suggestions and issues produced by previous Foresight work and gatherings. Having attended several Gatherings and heard several issues from multiple perspectives, we are ready to start filling in the details. Although large and random groups are great for brainstorming, they are perhaps not the best structure for producing detailed, focused, mature work on specific issues. Small working groups or think tanks would be useful at this point, to begin processing the excellent suggestions that have flowed from the Gatherings." (Click Read More… for the rest.)

We have come up with several tentative plans for using Foresight's resources most effectively. The basic idea is to form small groups capable of addressing specific questions or goals and efficiently producing focused, well-informed output. Initially the output may be in the form of white papers; as groupware becomes available, the output might be in a form that preserves more of the collaboration, hyperlinks, and diversity of opinion that go into its construction.

We see at least two ways of forming the groups. A group could be designed to work on a particular issue or type of issues. The members would be picked from a pool of volunteers according to their training and other qualifications. It could be structured as a working group or think tank. Alternatively, a group could self-organize around a paper and its author/authors, critiquing and expanding the initial work.

The Foresight Institute could easily provide substantial assistance by: 1) Gathering and maintaining a list of people interested in participating in such focused work, and their qualifications. 2) Providing Web space and possibly physical space to support the groups. 3) Publishing completed papers.

We are preparing a partial list of topics that seem suitable for study and research. This list could be made available to the Foresight community and papers solicited on any of the topics suggested by it. Each paper would be shown to reviewers with appropriate skills; after a few iterations, assuming the paper was of adequate quality, a group would coalesce to develop and polish it. Alternatively, if a think tank existed in the appropriate domain, the paper could be adopted and improved by that group. Initially this process could be done manually and informally; as more people participate, a reputation system could be added, perhaps as part of a groupware project.

Once a paper enters this process, it will be treated more or less like an Open Source project. Proprietary information should not be submitted; the reviewers don't need the extra burden of remembering which information they must not discuss. Of course work still in "beta" state should not be widely published without consent of the primary author.

The Foresight Institute needs to bring new members up to speed; pass on new information; generate creative suggestions; and generate products suitable for action or publication. It seems difficult to accomplish all of these in a one-weekend, one-format Gathering, though Foresight has made several very impressive attempts to do just that. The recent Gatherings have done much to bring new members up to speed, and have generated many suggestions in a brainstorming mode. Now that some suggestions have been around for a while, familiarity with them has ripened into a desire for specific productivity. We suggest small review/working groups as a way to focus this desire on specific issues.

Richard Fannon
Pat Gratton
Chris Phoenix
Bruce Ratcliff

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