wiki:projects/technology-and-revolution/discussionguide

The problems the human race faces pose the greatest threat to its existence in history.

If we can use the technology we have appropriately, plan and develop it intelligently and control it democratically, we can solve those problems.

What do we do?


Your agreement to help organize a convergence of this type is so appreciated and, we are convinced, will really help move us all forward. We have prepared this short "guide" to help you organize your session.

Goal and description

You're talking about how technology and fundamental social change relate to each other and what we have to do with technology to bolster the movement for fundamental social change.

The main goal is to freely converse about technology and revolution and, if the conversation is truly free, you'll be surprised at the richness of the outcome. The problem is that, in our movement work, we don't often get to just talk about this them. But we do want to get someplace with this conversation.

We want to get people thinking about what technology means and what we should do about and with it to make a revolutionary movement possible. What, in other words, is the strategy to follow? This is obviously not easy -- that's why it hasn't been answered yet -- and we don't expect anyone to come up with *the* answer. We're looking to start the conversation.

Nobody expects that conversation to be very directed. People are going to say what's on their minds and that, in itself, is an important experience and contribution. But keep in mind that, at some point, we need to think about a strategy.

A convergence session can be as long as you think possible and useful but most will be at least half a day and many will be all day sessions.

You can organize these things any way you see fit but here are a few ideas to help you.

1 -- Do an introduction

This would probably be a quick explanation of what we're doing and a run-down of the day. Take questions but make sure they are about the purpose and day...not the politics or analysis. You can be sure that people are going to want to discuss the politics before you even get started. Men, in particular, have a tendency to do this.

If you want, by all means go around the foom for self-introductions. This will work well with smaller convergences. Once you get to about 100 people or more, introductions can be tough and time-consuming.

With larger groups, you should have some kind of badge so people can write a name and place it on them.

2 -- Review your questions

As part of your intro, you may want to review some of the questions you'd like discussed. We have developed a couple of themes we think you might consider in framing your questions. These are merely suggestions; not mandatory.

What *is* technology and what has it done to our world?

What is the relationship between this technology and the struggle for fundamental social change?

You should ask people to take these one at a time and all the people in every group you have should express themselves on it.

But you can just have one question or several and they don't have to be these. Make up your own based on what you know about your participants.

3 -- Form your groups

Each group should have a leader and a scribe who should be working on a computer to take notes on any consensus or major discussion going on.

You want every group to develop some ideas everyone agrees on but you don't want them bogged down in wording, etc. It's not necessary to agree on everything and not necessary to agree on the exact wording of your agreements.

There will frequently be no agreements reached. This is not a failure; it's a reflection of where we are as a movement. Just hearing the different perspectives and understanding them is a huge step forward: possibly the most important step in this process. If it's possible, though, we want groups to record major differences. So if your group shows two or three prominent perspectives on a question, please record all of them.

You should probably make all this clear before sending people into their groups.

4 -- Report backs

There should be some way of integrating what people have talked about and gotten to consensus on. You can do this through reports back or emailing of outcome notes or even a short meeting of scribes. In any case, we'd like you to prepare a report on these discussions so group reports are going to be important and you're going to need to include them in some larger report.

It might be a good idea to have discussion of each report by the entire group. In some groups, depending on size, that might not be possible.

5 -- Report upload

Someone specifically selected should upload your report to the website report page. Please let people know where it is, by the way, so they can view all the reports.

6 -- Snacks and food

We mention this here because it's so important but people frequently forget about it. If people aren't comfortable (and hunger is uncomfortable), they don't concentrate as well. There is nothing trivial about this. Experience tells us that having refreshment for people greatly improves meetings of this type and also shows that you, as organizers, are thinking about their well-being.

7 -- The future?

Feel free to move on any way you'd like -- make that part of our report if you want. Some may opt for future convergences or smaller types of meetings or an email list (which we can set up for you). People can also opt to just go and let the experience sink in, reporting to their organizations and networks and letting the conversation affect those conversations.

In the groups:

1 -- Make sure you have a chairperson and scribe -- these may have been pre-selected.

2 -- Look around your group and notice women and people of color. Make absolutely sure all of them speak and that, if necessary, they are given preference.

3 -- Remember: You're talking about how technology and fundamental social change relate to each other and what we have to do with technology to bolster the movement for fundamental social change.

4 -- Try to reach some consensus on some points but sometimes this won't be possible. Some groups may be unable to reach consensus on anything. All of that is understandable and expected. It's still a positive experience.

5 -- Do *not* get bogged down. If people can't seem to agree on something, break off that conversation. Conversations extend when there's no possibility of agreement. Just start talking about another aspect of the point or another point.

Last modified 3 years ago Last modified on Feb 2, 2017, 5:42:36 PM