The Art of Hosting

Friends, I'm assisting with Occupy Cafe, an online space for conversation on the Occupy Movement.


Might you have any thoughts on Ben Roberts's question below?


Thanks much,



From: Ben Roberts []
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 6:00 PM
Subject: Harvesting Online Conversations

[Cross posted to the World Cafe Online Community Art of Harvesting Group]

How might the insights and successes emerging from our experience with structured dialogic processes be applied to the more free-wheeling and disjointed realm of "asynchronous" online conversations?

I am referring to the comment streams that are ubiquitous on the internet, including list-serve discussions just like this one. A particularly juicy example is this lively, complex and at times heated exchange on the topic of "A New Economy" from the forum of "Occupy Cafe" (where I'm spending most of my time these days and I again invite you all to come play as well!).

I see exciting opportunities to develop new processes for making meaning out of these threads. So often, there is great energy in them, but the format--a string of sequential or nested posts-- fights against one's ability to capture the deeper meaning of what is emerging, let alone to clearly perceive the range of basic ideas being presented.

Ironically, the more energy there is in a thread--the more posts there are, and the longer and more involved they become, the more that emotional charge develops among the participants -- the harder it gets for someone coming in for the first time to grasp the whole and find an entry point.

I have some ideas for software that can help to address this, as do some others here, I know. Meanwhile, I think that it might be possible to create some simple protocols that would allow any individual or (preferably) small group of people who have been in an online thread to produce a harvest that captures both essential content and the deeper dynamics of what is moving through the conversation.

I also think that this process of harvesting will provide an extra layer of value for those who participate in it, as they connect with one another and shift their perspective from participant to one who is caring for the whole.

I have created a group at where we will experiment with such processes, and would love to have some members of this community join me in this endeavor. In addition, we can use this thread for a more general discussion on the ways that this kind of harvesting might be done.

I am especially interested in processes that can easily be implemented by a group of typical participants, as opposed to things that might require more advanced skills/training, such as graphic recording. That way they can scale up to meet the needs of very large groups such as one often finds on the web.



Ben Roberts

Occupy Cafe Steward

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This is a very, very quick answer, as I don't have time for more at the moment.

I guess what would work well is that a small harvesting team can commit to read like one thread, then have a skype conversation between them about what they see as red thread, or 'the river below the river' or the patterns that show itself.

People from these different thread harvesting teams could then come together to harvest the whole at a certain point. It does require the skill to look for patterns and look for deeper meaning. My experience is that not every one can do that, or is inclined to do that.

That's all for now.

Raffi, I think it would be good to post this question also on the AoH emaillist.

Ria-jan, salam!

Thanks for this.

How does one get on the AoH email list? I don't see the email list here...


much warmth,


Go here to the tab Resources; then AoH Website and click there on Stay Connected tab. There you can subscribe your self to the list.

Love (from Berlin this WE)


Ok, Ria. I figured it out!

much warmth and greetings to Berlin (esp. Kreuzberg! )


I am interested in helping to harvest and am already logging in at Cafe World. I was already signed up earlier today for the monday morning conference call next week.


Gabrielle greetings!

Thanks for your interest and willingness to help harvest. You can send an email to ben [at] occupycafe [dot] org - if you haven't already.





Gabrielle Tousignant said:

I am interested in helping to harvest and am already logging in at Cafe World. I was already signed up earlier today for the monday morning conference call next week.


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