It had to happen. The Cloud Conferences are here. Bringing together leading authors, young scholars and group participation, we will together harness the power of the internet to achieve new levels of engagement, consultation and collaboration in the rigorous, diverse and inclusive venture that is Baha'i studies.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Frequently Asked Questions
The Cloud Traveller's Book of Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUTTING "GOING" IN THE FACEBOOK PAGE AND "REGISTERING" FOR THE EVENT? Putting "going" on the Facebook event page is helpful because it allows me to notify those planning to go when registration opens, as well as giving me a sense of likely numbers (let's make it big, already nearly 300 here, let's spread the word, this is I pray a service we will all make happen, and a special commemoration in this centenary year allowing a wonderful depth of reflection and participation), and finally it gives an amazing means of letting people know: 2000+ people have been directly invited by word of mouth, in over a dozen countries; what an expression of our connectedness and unity! Registration on the other hand is what makes it poasible to connect to the conference site. It will open around Sep 13. Registration will take place on the forthcoming online conference site/platform, and will enable participation in the actual conference. WILL THERE BE AN ATTENDANCE FEE? There will be a registration fee of $30 USD/£20 to pay for costs and allow this project to grow sustainably through our collective participation. I am trying to set up a concession fee of half price, but the platform currently does not allow for dual registration fees. WILL I BE ABLE TO CATCH THE EVENT IN MY TIMEZONE? Yes. The programme will involve three sessions of 2hrs and 3 speakers each, with a 3hr break in between sessions. This means that every timezone will be able to catch at least 1-2 sessions live, which will allow not just for hearing the talks but contributing by way of questions, comments and discussion. The whole event, including contributions, will be recorded, so participants will be able to not miss a thing! WILL I BE ABLE TO WATCH THE RECORDED CONFERENCE AFTER THE EVENT IF I CANNOT MAKE IT? Yes, if you are registered. Access to the recording will be available to all registered participants only in the first instance. I hope in due course to make highlights openly available at some point, but I will need to sort some technicalities first. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN BETWEEN THE SPEAKER PRESENTATIONS? I am hoping to curate an artistic programme including live music and an arts exhibition including painting, photography and film/animation shorts. Fingers crossed. In addition, there will be spaces, breakout rooms hopefully, to carry on the discussion of the speakers' presentations. I also would like to incorporate blogger contributions, but haven't yet given thought to the how. The aim of these sections, beside acting as ladders to the soul, will be to showcase and disseminate Baha'i artists and bloggers to increase their audience and facilitate connection. The same facility for active rather than passive listening and connection through simultaneous chat will be available. CAN I HELP? Yes!! 1) By letting people know. Wouldn't it be amazing if we had a thousand people interacting and together producing knowledge and spirit? Or 999, 1919, 9000 for those with a penchant for symbolism ;-) 2) By volunteering. I will be grateful for virtual ushers who can help do a test run in advance and get to know the very simple platform, and then help out on the day, by being ready to answer questions, and possibly help out in the breakout rooms. In addition to ushers, if someone has expertise in web design I might be able to enhance the event: useful extra, not a necessary. Also very useful would be someone who can put together a whole bunch of visual submissions into a single movie file in little time (nothing sophisticated). 3) I'm still open to submissions from artists who would like to promote their work, no promises but space is available. I'd love to have a classical musician or small ensemble wishing to perform live. Likewise a live musician from a non-European/North American musical tradition. If you know of anyone who should approach me, tell them to do so. IS THIS EVENT ORGANISED BY AN INSTITUTION? No, it is an individual initiative, so far organised entirely by yours truly. Actually I now have my first Usher volunteer, so there will eventually be two of us. Watch out world. WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CLOUD CONFERENCES? Looking into my divinatory dreams I see these conferences happening every 3 months each focused on a different theme. Of course it could just be a dream born of indigestion. But it was a great dish. Feel free to offer to present at future conferences on any topic whatsoever by contacting me privately. No promises again, the selection will depend on the theme and the diversity of participants I seek. Proposals from youth and those outside of Europe and North America are specially welcome. WILL THERE BE ANY RULES FOR PARTICIPATION? A very few which should be natural: 1) Comments and participation will take place in an atmosphere of mutual hospitality and encouragement. 2) Discuassions will be focused on the theme of the conference. 3) Nettiquette, or the unwritten spirit of communication will be animated by consultation rather than debate, seeking consensus and while allowing and indeed encouraging a diversity of perspectives, entirely excluding controversy, arguments and conflict. Those departing from these simple rules will be encourages to channel their exchanges in alternative venues, and if disruptive will be politely asked to leave and their fees refunded. WILL SPEAKERS BE ABLE TO SEE THEIR AUDIENCE? No, unless after raising your hand to speak or contacting the chairperson you are given the virtual floor, so that your camera appears on the main screen. You don't have to do anything other than raise your virtual hand, everything is done for you. What the speakers will be able to see is the running commentary in the chat window as they speak, thus including not only questions and comments formally made at the end as in a physical conference, but those informally shared in conversation during and after their presentation. WHERE EXACTLY WILL WE BE LOGGING IN? A link will be sent to you following registration (see FAQ) which will take you to a button saying Launch Class. The instant you press that you will be magically transported to a world of exploration, deepening, discussion and inspiration. Better than Narnia and easier to get to. Not such good special effects though. Yet. WILL I NEED TO SAY/DO THINGS OR CAN I JUST SIT BACK AND LISTEN? Yes, you can just sit back and enjoy the conference over your favourite cup of English tea, Kenyan coffee, Mexican horchata, Italian expresso, Mississippi milkshake (ok, made that one up but it alliterates nicely), without any expectation of putting your two cents/pennies/centavos/shells' worth into any discussions. Just hear, see, and enjoy. I feel duty bound to inform however that the conversation might be so interesting that against better instincts you might find yourself irresistibly drawn to write 'hear hear', say hello to someone whose ideas you liked, or offer that little insight you thought no one would want to read and gets you, a year later, the Nobel prize. You heard about it here first. AND THE OTHER QUESTIONS? I can't think of any, it's an imagination hiccup no doubt. But surely you can. If you ask them you will be helping me and others too