Crossforum Theatre as Unconference

David Bovill david at
Sat Aug 21 09:15:07 EDT 2010

On 21 August 2010 01:44, Michael Allan <mike at> wrote:

> I have a rough plan for the theatre staging:

Think we need to have a Skype caht about this, as i've been out of the loop
with previous conversations.

This seems to be an interface sketch fro an app which would allow you to
take part in LD events from home / on the internet? If so - that's the sort
of app that I've often worked on, and got various btis and peices we can
play with, experiment, brain storm over, but I don't quite see yet the
connection between the sketch and the actual events / that is the content of
the events yet.

There are simple ways, and existing interfaces we may be able to use for
this purpose, I think what we need to do is clearly define the content, then
use this to see what we can use, or build, in order to create an LD
facilitated set of live debates (unconferences).

Why "live real-space events"? Because taking part in the debate for everyone
concerned is effort, and we need the show to be good enough, dramatic
enough, for it to be something people want to come again to. This is easiest
to achieve by featuring / covering talks at a real space event, which gives
a focus to the participation. From that point we can scale the adhoc
participation from individuals taking part through an single web based GUI.

David Bovill wrote:
> > ... What we need to do is put a good team together that are
> > committed, have complementary skills that cover these different
> > bases.
> From my point of view, the steps to team building are:
>  1) Code an all-round functional alpha. (done)
>  2) Add an attractive entry window.
>  3) Get a few quality users and work closely with them.
>  4) Pull in a second skilled developer.
> I guess you see unconferences as an entry window (2).  The advantage
> is that it has elements of (4) in it.  You get both users *and*
> developers at once, at least for a day or two.  The advantage of my
> approach is that it scales more easily and rapidly in terms of user
> participation.

Possibly. But only if a few assumptions are fulfilled:

   1. The user experience (UX) of the interface, and the participation is
   sufficiently good for them to want to come back for more. If you think of
   the software as a web game - then to develop the user experience to this
   level can take a huge amount of work, and no one will play it until the UX
   is good enough - only then will it scale.
   2. Solo participation via the web is compelling enough - to offset the
   initial teething / bootstrapping problems.
   3. We will be able to attract the same quality and quantity of speakers,
   artists and film makers to an online event, in alpha software as we will in
   a live real space event.

It is my view that the content, and idea is more attractive than the
software at this stage. That yes we need to put both together (we need the
LD game logic), but we are better using real-space and video for the
interface, than on relying simply on an online GUI in the early stages.

The APIs are pretty much ready for the first developer who needs them.
> Some improvements could be made up front.  Others would probably wait
> till I could dialogue with that first developer.
> >    2. Use the RoadShow. Theatre requires good visuals, it attracts people
> >    who like to make good visuals. In the time scale between no and the
> actual
> >    roadshow we will be able to work with a team to produce those visuals
> >    together. Not DIY, not ourselves, but focus on the team creation,
> associated
> >    with the event.
> By RoadShow, you mean unconference?

Yes - if that is the format chosen.

So should we wait for one of these events to be organized before we
> start developing a marquee user interface (like crossforum theatre)?
> Or should we start on that now, even if that means starting alone?

Bit of both. We need the "marquee user interface" for the launch event. And
we need to invite people, fix the dates and venue, get the content sorted,
organise people (SpectActors) that are ready to implement the various LD
roles in the event (online and in real space). Again, to maximise everyones
sense of energy and promote teamwork these things should be run in parallel,
not wait for software to be finished first.

> David Bovill wrote (in the other thread):
> > To try to suggest proposals that may go some way to answering this
> > question [what kinds of interaction?], I've sketched out a number of
> > forms / aspects that I think these real space events / performative
> > interfaces can take:
> >
> >    1. Subtlety - hell it's not really that different! We can move
> smoothly
> >    from a traditional Unconference to more imaginative performances as
> >    resources, the audience and the need arises.
> >    2. A Game Example
> >    3. An Intimate Example
> >    4. A Practical Example
> I realize now that we probably don't have to code support for specific
> types of interaction up front.  They're mostly a matter of production
> content (scripted or just thematic).
> I don't really know if you'd want (or need) to produce anything
> specifically for crossforum theatre, in support of unconferences etc.

Yes - but I see this as derivative of the actual events, it's a spin-off
product rather than something that drives the events.

> In addition, you might produce an overview of all those unconferences,
> in various stages of happening, maybe as a running summary.  (Hear
> what people are saying, see where they are located in democracy-space,
> and so forth.)


I read through your other examples, but no other production ideas came
> to mind.

What do you mean by a "production idea" - I think of production in the
theatre sense here - they are clearly different productions?

> The frame sequencer doesn't actually give me lots of
> creative ideas for other productions.  )Maybe we can find a better
> medium, later.)  But it at least suffices for the conversation-based
> productions, which I think are the most important.  (The most
> important of all might be one that allowed you to follow the doings of
> your friends, family and other peers in democracy space.)

I'm not attracted / maybe don't fully get to the idea of a "Frame Sequencer"
- I want to be able to explore, navigate, debates and arguments that support
or contradict each other - I want to see various ways in which the parts can
be remixed, and be seen as part of a whole cohesive, debate, performance,
play, event.

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