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Junto is Born!

April 19th, 2010 · 1 Comment · All Posts, Venessa Miemis

Many of us have been inspired by the cooperation meme lately, and it appears that our collective spirit has given birth to Junto!

In case you haven’t been following along, Junto is a concept we’ve been discussing for a global communications and collaboration platform. It starts with a simple interface, combining video chat with a text box and a twitter backchannel, all streaming in public, real-time. It could be used for any number of projects or goals – organizations could use it for open innovation or to show how they are taking social responsibility in the world, groups with similar initiatives could use it for huge group discussions and meetings in order to accelerate the process of organizing and taking projects from idea to action, and individuals could use it to engage in dialogue and create shared meaning and shared understanding across geographic and cultural barriers. For more context, check out the original post here.

The longer term goal is to build in a family of tools and functionality that will aid in thinking and development, such as:

  • live collaborative whiteboard
  • concept mapping, possibly linked with twitter in order to automatically send links to specific areas of a project
  • Junto video sessions to be time-coded and tagged for easy search and later reference
  • emotional/intuitive symbol language to express feelings around ideas and concepts
  • data visualization, heat-mapping and sounds linked to information to quickly visually & auditorily “get” a piece of information
  • tools for checking cognitive biases around information

There are other high-level concepts floating out there, but I think these are the ones that are immediately being looked at. While these aspects are being explored, a trust-based profile structure is being created, which is intended for people to be able to express inherent strengths, values, skills, social connections, and where they can contribute within a process, so that we have the opportunity to reach out to one another, make a connection, and team up to get things done!

And beyond that, it’s for us to evolve as people. If you’ve followed along here over the months, I talk about getting back to the fundamentals of who we really are, about deep values, interconnection, social learning, building intelligence, and raising consciousness. It works for some by sitting in meditation alone on a mountaintop, but I think it also happens when we make connections with people who unexplainably resonate on our frequencies and pull us forward. It doesn’t replace real life interaction – but the Web sure does allow us to make beautiful music together.

So here’s a quick overview of where we’re at and who’s stepping forward so far:

David Carroll (@aquarious) – [Location: NYC] – Manifestor

Dave emailed me a few weeks ago, offering to help with prototyping the initial platform. We met up on Wednesday, and now, 2 days later, the first version of Junto “0.01″ (ha) has emerged. Dirty prototype here:

http://dave.parsons.edu/fms/junto/

update: wow, things move fast! Junto now has a lobby: http://dave.parsons.edu/junto/

We played with it a bit last night, and had nine people on video, and around 500 people who came in over the course of the evening to check it out. Here’s a quick video of what it looked like. (We were having some audio issues, so everyone is being quiet, but essentially we have the initial components of video boxes, text box, and Twitter backchannel (which is offscreen).

We’re just using this as a “proof of concept” – we’d like to build the whole thing from scratch for the real version, so hopefully some developers will start getting interested in the project. (hint hint)

Gavin Keech (@gavinkeech) – [Location: Adelaide, Australia] – UI & UX Designer

Gavin has a very creative mind, and has come up with some interesting sketches and ideas about what the interface could look like, how it could function within a layered visual system, and how it ties in with the profile system. He’s also helping us think about the bigger picture of what this platform will become after it goes beyond the Junto discussion platform. We’re talking about calling it ebiidii – ebii for short.We realized that Junto is just the discussion… so what’s the other thing that it’s encapsulated by? We were trying to think of a word that describes the essence of cooperation, collaboration, manifestation, and intentional evolution, but so many times words are already laden with meanings and preconceived notions, so we wanted to create something new. We noticed how people have been shortening the name of this blog to E.B.D., hence ebiidii. Not only does the acronym describe what we want to be (Emergent by Design), but the letters seem to have a lot of symbolism in themselves. The ‘e’ could be for emergence, evolution, energy….. the b and d are like mirrors, representing how we can reflect ourselves to others, and how others are mirrors of ourselves, and the double ii’s are like two groups meeting, but also the iiii gives a feeling of an echo, or a frequency, or a resonance. We thought that that was pretty cool, and it almost named itself. And the shortened version of ‘ebii’ is just so darn cute.

Gunther Sonnenfeld (@goonth) – [Location: Los Angeles, CA] – Change Catalyst

Gunther and his colleagues are working on developing a platform to help local communities create infrastructure and affect change. Here’s a bit from his site:


Our partnership with CIF (The Canadian Institute for the Future) is leading us down a swift path towards a new dynamic publishing platform, designed to build infrastructure in local communities by way of transmedia development and a robust microfinancing engine. Basically, we’re hoping to re-engineer the storytelling process and make it profitable (and equitable) for entire groups of people. In our humble belief, participatory culture is something that must be empowered if we want to affect real change in the near and long term.

We’ve also been talking about how a conversation platform could evolve to include a way for individuals and groups to reach out and help each other, via a virtual currency or microfinance implementation, so it seems of mutual benefit for us to co-create this platform. This was encouraging news, as this idea can manifest more quickly with access to their financial resources. We’re also both aligned with the idea that this is to be an open source, publicly available platform for anyone to use and benefit from.

Ishan Shapiro @notthisbody) – Narrative Architect

Ishan is an active member on SpaceCollective and recently attracted my attention with a project he’s working on to develop an emotion/intuition-based symbol language, called “zoacodes.” It builds on Ebon Fisher’s work, and they’re just on the front end of teaming up with designers and typographers to craft this new thing. We’re not sure yet how everything fits, but it’s unfolding. He’s also been working on how reputation works in online spaces, and has been tracking that work in on Twine under ‘Friendships in Hyperconnectivity.’

Gabriel Shalom (@gabrielshalom) – [Location: Berlin] – Videomusician, Immediator, Transmedia Narrative Design

Gabriel recently reached out to me after my ‘Future is Networks’ post, and has a lot of ideas about the future of open source video http://vimeo.com/6668034 and visual storytelling. As the discussion platform evolves, and video sessions can be recorded and parsed and tagged, we’re hoping Gabe will share some insights into what that could look like.

Michael Gusek (@mgusek555) – [Location: San Raphael, CA] – Evolver

Michael is working with Syntience, a company pioneering a holistic approach to understanding data, called Artificial Intuition. Once our platform is sufficiently developed, we’re going to see how their software could accelerate our ability to make sense of information, connect with each other, and make ideas manifest.

The other big thinkers that have been shaping these idea over the months are Bernd Nurnberger (@CoCreatr) [Location: Yokohama, Japan] ), Ned Kumar (@Nedkumar) [Location: US], Spiro Spiliadis (@spirospiliadis) [Location: Canada], Mark Frazier (@openworld) [Location: Virginia], Michael Josefowicz (@ToughLoveforX), Cole Tucker (@cole_tucker) [Location: North Hampton, MA], and Nuno Raphael Relvao (@UnfoldedOrigami) [Location: Coimbra, Portugal]. There are many more – this is a global effort, after all – but I’m going to stop here for now. Because this is a distributed effort, energy levels will rise and fall, people will come and go, and everyone will participate and contribute as long as it stays pure and fun. I’m going to just keep calm and collected and keep doing what I’m doing, and we’ll see where things go from here.

In case you’re interested, here’s the results of a brief survey I tweeted last week, just to gauge initial interest in this. We’ve also begun a Google Wave for collaboration until people decide that something else is more effective.

I’m so excited to see how all these different groups and people across space and time are coming together around this shared vision of creating something that will better help us help ourselves.

We don’t know how it’s going to unfold, but it is incredibly inspiring to see the interest mounting, and I’m eager to see more collaborators and participants getting involved!

Next steps are to entice more developers and coders to build the infrastructure so that this system can emerge, and to begin experimenting with the look and functionality of this site so that it can be as simple, intuitive, and beautiful as possible so that the largest number of people can quickly benefit from using it.

Onward & Upward!

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