Find interesting people? Set up a second-degree dinner…

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Out of the blue I got a message from the mysterious Sam. I have known Sam for a while and sometimes we have chats in coffee shops while I work on Fridays. We are quite different characters and that always makes the discussions we have interesting, sometimes too interesting as I’m slightly distracted from my work.

The message read

I was a bit busy when I got it, doing user testing on visual perceptive media (paper coming) but later in the day, I checked it out.

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Second degree dinners is a concept by Nat Eliason while getting to know interesting people in a new city.

Four months ago I moved to Austin knowing no one in the city but my 9 coworkers and a couple of acquaintances.

The problem I immediately needed to solve was:

“How do I find interesting new people?”

I tried Meetups, bars, events, all the typical places. But in almost every case, the return on investment in terms of “interesting people met” to “time spent” was terrible.

The best way to find people seemed to be to meet someone interesting, then try to meet as many of their close friends as possible.

But getting your friends (especially new ones) to throw parties or invite you out to things doesn’t scale and makes you feel needy, so how do you get looped into everyone’s friend network at once?

Ok the quantification of time vs effort in this case is a little awkward. But he does have a point. This is something I found when I moved from London to Manchester and in part when moving from Bristol to London.

I guess if you quantified the time, it would be pretty poor but I got to do crazy things like eat at every single Chinese restaurant in London’s China town over a period of a year. Good use of time, well I guess not but heck I enjoyed most of them. Quantification of enjoyment and experience is hard to do…

But back to the point!

What is a Second-Degree Dinner

A Second-Degree Dinner brings together 6 people who, mostly, don’t know each other.

There are two “hosts.” Both hosts invite someone who they enjoy spending time with and that they think is interesting.

Then, both of their invitees are expected to invite someone that they think is interesting and send them the invitation as well.

This way, the two hosts and the two initial invitees only know two other people at the dinner. They get to meet three new people.

The second-degree invitations will know only one person and get to meet four.

Best of all, you’re only meeting pre-vetted people. No weirdos, not some rando who’s trying to sell you on their social media consulting, only cool people.

Once the dinner starts, everyone goes around and says:

  • Who they are
  • Where they’re from
  • What they’re working on
  • Something they’re excited about. It could be a new book, app, relationship, anything that has them jazzed up.

The intros usually happen during ordering / getting drinks. It’s a good way to break the ice, make sure that everyone knows each others’ names, and give a bit of a background for the next portion.

Then the real fun begins. You go back around the circle, and each person talks about one thing that they’re struggling with or that’s a challenge in their life.

As soon as I read this, I thought of Me & Jodys dating idea where we have 8 strangers together for dinner with each other. It was similar an idea and we called it the starter, but romance was the core reason for them being put together. We did a test run with friends and it worked quite well, everybody seemed to have a good time and the feedback agreed with this. Yes its similar to Table8 but they are not the first to think of bring singles together in a group blind date type thing.

Unfortunately when we actually tried to run it at the Manchester flirty weekend, we failed to get enough men to sign up. We actually had 32 women! signed up and waiting and only one man (not including myself)! I’m actually suprised I haven’t wrote about this but I did spill the beans in a Lovegrumps podcast a while back. and my let down in mankind.

So I know this can work and I’ll actively be encouraging Sam to make it happen, even if I have to arrange most of it myself (ha!). Talking of which Nat has lot of tips on how to go about this. Lots are very much the social event stuff I’ve picked up running things like geekdinners, barcamps, etc.

I especially like…

Be Vulnerable First

As the host of the event, it’s your job to set the tone for how open everyone can be. You should share first during the workshop, and you should open yourself up through your challenge. Talk about an insecurity, weakness, fear, something that people wouldn’t expect a stranger to be comfortable talking about.

It’s scary, but people appreciate the openness and respond in kind. If you just talk about something very surface level, then no one else will open up either.

I’m not sure what Sam’s plans are but if he wants to make it a monthly thing, I wouldn’t say no. Thanks for highlighting this to me, I like it a lot and more I think about it, the more it makes me more excited and happy. I got a whole ton of people I could invite along but it all depends on the details.

Serendipity don’t you just love it?

Will you find more interesting people through this idea?

Most likely yes. Friends of friends is one of the best networks you have access to, this has been tested and proven to death. Add a level of serendipity and you are on to something. This why social networks are so popular and young people (use?) to find dates through friends of friends

Familar strangers from milgrams 1972 paper

Its important that the people are interesting in themselves (as in they are interesting, not in them-self). I have ideas about this which I wrote up in a follow up to Russell Davis’ original post. It was wonderful to talk about this at BarCampManchester6 and have katrina patel blog her thoughts afterwards.

Interesting people attract interesting people I’m sure… Its a attractor, like positive people tend to attract positive people?

Asking for help by Brainjamming…

Back row

Marc Canter, the founder of Macromind the company which became Macromedia. Messaged me recently as he wanted to let me know about a new type of event called a Brainjam. Marc is fantastic guy and I had the joy of having him talk at London Geekdinners way back near the start of it.

Join a community of your peers who are committed to the development of a better world by building bridges between diverse perspectives and differing opinions in order to develop solutions cooperatively, instead of through activism by opposition. Following our first event in Washington DC on October 9, and a second one in San Francisco, CA on October 22, our movement’s founder, Chris Heuer, will briefly share his vision for We Are the Solution and facilitate one of his signature unconference conversations, a BrainJam, to connect you with other people, ideas and resources that will help you to accomplish your goals and live your life’s purpose.

What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, we are building a community of communities for leaders, concerned citizens and others interested in social good so that you may help each other in ways big and small. So it’s a kind of networking event with a specific emphasis on ASKING for help from each other and finding opportunities to share your gifts by making connections that might not otherwise happen if we didn’t sit face to face in conversation with each other.

Reading about it… Sounds something between the original spirit of BarCamp with a bit of the share one moment events.

I do wish I could be in London for it but with the week of events and talks coming up, theres no way I can do this too. I mean my life packed solid with too much already. Of course if you are in London or Dublin. You might want to check out the events.

It also kind of reminds me of Makerba.se which recently went into public beta and the well loved Google Schemer but  in real life. Maybe brainjam is a inspiration network? Very fitting as the workshop  at Thinking Digital Manchester is all about shared opportunities, genuine connections and collaboration.

There was also a conversation about what next after BarCamp, some people were kicking about a long while ago.  Maybe Brainjams? Maybe a brainjam in Manchester is a good idea? Sounds like something we tried to do with common ground a while ago.

Lots to think about… but if you are in London or Dublin, get yourself down to one!

What is it about TV people?

There is something about TV which seems to attract some of the people I personally don’t really like much.

I was on the 18:57 declassified train back from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly. Declassified meaning the whole train is one class and you can sit in first class on a second class ticket. Anyway sitting on my reserved single seat, I couldn’t help but notice the people on the seats ahead of me making a bit of noise.

As the train wound its way up to Manchester, they got noisier and nosier. There was lots of bitching about collages and celebs (did they not understand they were in a public place?). They bought lots of wine/cava from the onboard shop and drink them just as quick. “Oh don’t worry I’ll claim for them” said the most senior one. They made it clear they worked in Media City and met celebs all the time in the studios.

What got me was, when we got into Piccadilly one of the quiet passenger sitting near me said quietly to another passenager.

Well I’m so glad our license fee is being used so wisely…

And who could blame her for saying so? I wanted to say, I don’t believe they are BBC employees, but choose to see what else would be said. However the carriage filled up with people getting ready to get off.

So I ask what is it about TV?

I’ve met many types of media people but TV just seems to attract posers, dicks and showoffs? Outside the obvious idea of the broadcast, I mean these people are on the wrong side of the camera. Maybe its a build up  Of course I’m not saying all the crew who work behind the camera are posers, dicks and showoffs. But it certainly attracts them.

Ok this is one time right? I’m very wrong right? Lets look at other times I’ve come across TV people… The Year of Making Love and that massive saga. Enough really said… And also lets not forget the Edinburgh TV UnFestival, great event but the TV festival events were something else. Although I have admit its Edinburgh in summer and its the end of the festivals. But finally its not just me, insurance companies put higher premiums on TV producers, as I found out when trying to insure my scooter. As soon as I changed my job title to almost anything but senior producer, the premiums dropped massively. If anyone asks, I’m a senior designer… Certainly not a TV producer…

Sorry to people I know who work in TV, I’m sure your one of the good bunch, your being let down by a vocal few!

Tags vs Circles for Friends

Gear Head

I’m in total limbo when it comes to Google and my friends

Google Plus delivered a new way to classify your friends (although it was first seen in diaspora’s aspects) but I was using Gmail’s Contacts with the tagging previously.

What this boils down to is Taxonomy vs Folksonomy and credit goes to Stowe Boyd, Thomas Wanderwal and others.

I’ve been thinking about the merits of both approaches and concluded that even if Google included the ability to have circles within circles, it wouldn’t be as flexible as a purely tagging/folksonomy based system. The problem seems to center around classifying friends and people full stop. Categories, Circles or rather Taxonomy’s are too ridged and forced. Which to be frank classifying your relationship with people isn’t.

I refer to this table

Taxonomy Folksonomy
Brittle Flexible
Accurate (if done well) Less reliable
Compliance must be forced Rewards but doesn’t force compliance
Hard to add to Easy to add to
Centrally controlled Democratically controlled
Predictable Organic

The attributes of Folksonomies sound a lot closer to the emergent nature of relationships than Taxonomies.

There is a question which remains however… What happens if Google do adopt Circles within Circles? Or even follow the Twitter lists way of doing things?

Hopefully Google will adopt their own Gmail folksonomy approach in the future, but it does looks very unlikely…?

The Different Types of People There Are on the Internet

Social Media Cafe

Yesterday afternoon I was waiting for my date and she was running really late. But to be honest she did text me to say she was running very late although I was already at the location we said we would meet. It didn’t matter because I was laughing my ass off (yep ROFL) reading my kindle while sipping some very nice teas (guess where I was).

The thing I was reading was my personal Read it later list…was The Different Types of People There Are on the Internet.

I did tweet it from my kindle but Amazon in there wisdom doesn’t support self publishing very well, so you got some quotes but not much else.

This one had me in stiches…

People Who Are Social Media Evangelists

With their dogmatic approach and cries of ‘Social media, therefore world peace’, the self-proclaimed evangelist is deft at confusing causation and correlation to squash a complicated world into their Twitter-tinted narrative.

Where religious fervor was harnessed to defend the church from barbarians, the social media expert rabidly protects their beliefs, as they plunge their faith into herd mentality safe in the knowledge that they are part of a greater good that will heal the world and keep them safe.

Despite claiming to espouse groupthink and the importance of social diversity, the social media evangelist will only speak to other like-minded scholars of the internet.

Pragmatism and empiricism are tools of the crusty old world order. The social media expert is a master of narrativisation and the extrapolation of the anecdotal or rare event into a universal law.

Like 1984’s Big Brother, the social media lover is a deft switcher of allegiances in the interest of the common good of social media. Writers and thinkers will be held up as messiahs before being cast off as pariahs for doing so much as questioning the accepted truths of social media.

Detractors are swatted aside with a derisory allegation that they ‘just don’t get it’, as the social media expert truly believes that reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody elevates them to an ivory tower of intellectualism that is unscalable by any other human being, regardless of their superior qualifications or proven track record.

There is an irony in almost all the pillars of truth accepted by the social media evangelist. Yet like the Stoics before them, they hold steadfast, as there is nothing you can subject evangelists to that will cause them to question their unwavering faith.

Most importantly, the social media evangelist will spray empty aphorisms and appropriated language from economics and social sciences all over their feeds and blog posts in an attempt to intellectualise the fact that they just like pratting about on Twitter and Facebook all day.

via James Seddon

The reason why this had me in hysterics was because we all know people like this. Heck I’ve been known to say "… just don’t get it" quite a few times from my ivory tower of intellectualism (*smile*). If your slightly offended by this description, theres this version which is pretty much the same but more subtle.

Its also worth mentioning this is all a internet take (remix) of what was written on the stranger. I’ve been researching the stranger for part 3, after my exwife suggested I go check it out.

Geek and Geekhag podcast number ten – America

Here's a rough podcast me and Sarah did while driving to Minneapolis on the highway. I've cleaned it up as much as I can using Audacity but theres little we can do about the car noise and the laptop internal microphone. For now, its best not to link directly to the mpeg3 file because I will move it to archive.org when I get back online.

The subject for the podcast is that old chestnut, America or the states. We talk about oil prices, cars and the people. Enjoy…

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