Putting Together Salons (Automatically)
When I refer to a salon, I mean the concept of the salons from the 1800s. Salons were held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. (Thanks to Steve Sanderson for suggestion of that term to describe what I am talking about)
The concept here is that you would like to get groups of people together to talk about a particular topic. So you put in a topic and a seed group of people. You also put in the necessary parameters that would be needed for a meeting to occur…# of people, time, place, location. So maybe you have a pool of 8 people who like to talk about startups. You could set up a meeting of 3 for Thunderbird Coffee, Thursday, September 23, at 9am. When the scheduler wakes up, it picks three random people from the seed list for the group and it sends them an email with a 24 hour expiration date. The email has a yes/no/don’t bother me link. If you get 3 Yeses, you send an invite to the meeting and it’s established. If you get 2, then you send a message to one more person until you get another Yes. Then, send the invite. If you cannot achieve a meeting of 3, you send an email to the Yeses and you say I’m sorry, we could not make this meeting happen.
At the conclusion of a meeting that was supposed to have happened, you send a message to each participant.
You ask them to fill out a short survey:
- Did you attend the meeting?
- How would you rate the meeting (1-5)?
- If you could invite one more person to the meeting, who would it be?
- If you did not really click with someone at the meeting, who was it?
The system would use the intelligence of these surveys to make future meetings better by pairing people who seemed to work well together and not pairing those who don’t, etc.
The system would allow a person like me, who often wants to get people together for various reasons, to build small topic-focused interest groups, but also assist me in improving the quality of the groups over time. The randomized nature of it is kinda fun. It’s like a jury summons but without sitting in court. The automation allows for the potential to scale the regular meeting of small focused groups. The seeding is important, but hopefully the continuous feedback from the surveys would help guide group progress going forward.
Notes about this idea’s history:
- It was formerly called the cron society. A mysterious and geeky name, but I like the term salon to describe what this enables better.
- It was expanded during a brainstorming session with Hayes Davis back in March of 2010 on the patio of Thunderbird Coffee)