embracing chaos or nimble light organizing?

chaos slide, by me as fotogail at flickr

I had a lovely time at CommunityNext, at Stanford. Kudos to the producers, sponsors, speakers and attendees. I enjoyed meeting some people I know only from their sites or blogs, and seeing some old pals from Online Community Summit, too.

Since this was one of the few things I photographed, maybe I should start by talking about Tara Hunt‘s presentation. Her blog’s often terrific. I imagine that she is a mindblowing speaker in the context of commercial sites with traditional image and message control concerns, and quite useful.

However, I had a skeptical take on this slide: “embrace the chaos” she said. She was talking about bar camp as a reaction to foo camp, as an example of embracing chaos. I think of that as a powerful example of almost the opposite: of nimble light organizing. Of innovation in realizing that a small group already had the needed organizing skills from having organized and observed many other events. Of collaborating, barnraising and clue-sharing.

Is this because of my knowledge and use of organizing in a political context? Maybe so, Maybe it’s a cultural gap.

But to me, putting together a framework for a simple, inexpensive and relatively open event means creating a light simple structure, essential for collaboration. More like navigating tumultuous waters with a light craft, with a strong element of “bring your own paddle” in the swift preparation, rather than embracing them with no strategy or skills at all.

Maybe it’s a petty distinction. It was a useful line of thought for me, however. That’s why to go to f2f conferences. Thoughts, drifts and counterpoint to be continued…