Starting in February 2012 Social Spaces will be running a series of 12 exploratory new events at Hub Westminster.
The primary assumption for the project is that there is new knowledge to be built and that we need to find new collaborative ways of building it.
These weekly Enquiries are structured events designed to give people who have designed and implemented innovation local projects an opportunity to describe their work and their emerging insights to a group of interested and experienced peers. These innovation projects are required to be working specifically in the participatory paradigm where creative and strategic solution seeking and collaborative working are their most evident characteristics.
What happens at an Enquiry?
The evenings will begin with a sociable supper, during which the ‘theorist(s)’ will present their project, their theory of change and new emergent theory - followed by a number pieces of evidence to support their theory.
Each participant in turn will state their core disciplinary perspective e.g. science, philosophy, design etc and offers either a supporting or challenging statement for the theory, connecting with other knowledge bases to understand and interpret the new theory.
How will the Enquiries be documented?
Each week the event will ‘extreme’ recorded to a structured and pre-set format and set into a large format digital/on demand book including all participants names and responses. The events will be audio live streamed - and later converted into podcasts.
Why are they called The Ad Hoc Enquiries?
The name ‘enquiry’ goes some way to describe the format for the evenings. The name implies that the answers to our new questions are not currently evident and that some specific process is needed to draw out the ideas and examine the evidence.
The purpose of these events is a serious one, and the idea of calling it an ‘enquiry’ implies that some noteworthy and important work will take place during these evenings. ‘Enquiry’ is also an academic term to describe an investigation into a specific topic or question.
The word ‘ad hoc’ is a term used in a number of contexts including scientific and philosophical theory; national investigations; technology systems and networks theory. There is also a link to the term Adhocracy, described by Alvin Toffler in the book Future Shock to mean an organisational structure working in the opposite way to a bureauracy.
How have we developed the format?
We have used understanding of how thinking in a new type of social setting might take place to develop this new format. The events are structured to achieve knowledge creation through social and intellectual interaction and to be respectful of people’s ideas and the time they are offering to the project through the documentation and sharing process.
The format takes account of the different phases individual and collective cognition might take place: stimulation/processing/connection/discussion/synthesis/building further on emergent ideas.
The structure secures the serious aspects of the project's aims, and will therefor also allow a great deal of playfulness and fun to be injected into the evenings. We will be running these events in *very* strict order... possibly even using a gavel....
Call for new theories - do you have one?
The first stage in preparing for these events is to ask people to submit their ideas for a theory they would like to present.
1. Have you developed an innovative local project?
2. Does this project work in the Creative/Collaborative paradigm?
What we mean here is the work should not work in the Consumer, Representative, Charity or Challenge participatory paradigms. There may be some of these in the mixture - but overall the project needs to work more collaboratively with communities and local authorities, possibly reconfiguring existing systems and fundamentally changing the way the community interacts in some way (See here and here for more details on how we see the Creative/Collaborative paradigm)