Educational Versus Inspirational Events [en]

[fr] Going Solo vise à être une conférence qui non seulement donne de l'inspiration, mais qui enseigne également. Du coup, préparer le programme ne consiste pas simplement à trouver des orateurs pouvant faire des présentations autour d'un thème donné, mais ressemble beaucoup plus à la préparation d'un plan d'études: il y a tant de matière à couvrir, et il faut trouver les bonnes personnes pour le faire.

It was clear to me from the start, when I started imagining [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/), that the programme would be built in such a way as to cover a range of topics I thought were relevant. What I didn’t realize is that this is quite different from having a conference/event “theme” and hunting for speakers who have something to say around that theme.

I’ve many times tried to express that although Going Solo is not a workshop or a training session, it is training-like, but I never quite seemed to find a way to explain this clearly. I wanted to say “yes, it’s a conference, but the aim is for people to learn stuff they can use when they walk out.” I think I’ve nailed it now, though: Going Solo is educational more than inspirational.

Most conferences I go to fall in the “inspirational” category. Of course, I learn things there, but mainly, I am inspired, or lifted (if the conference is LIFT). When I planned my Open Stage speech to present Going Solo to the audience at LIFT (watch the video), I wanted it to be inspirational. It’s not a video that teaches you anything, but that inspires you to attend Going Solo (and it did indeed inspire people!)

Even if the conference theme is more technical, and the sessions actually teach you stuff, most often it is a series of related sessions grouped together around a given theme. Reboot is a perfect example of how a theme is used to collect all sorts of contributions.

Not so for Going Solo. Putting together the [programme for Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/programme/sessions/) feels much more like being in charge of defining the teaching programme for an academic year (only it’s a day, thank goodness, not a year). At the end of the day, I want the programme to have covered this, that and that. I try to organize the content into sessions, and then I talk with my speakers to see who can cover what.

I’m realizing now that this is the difficult bit — and as a speaker myself, I should have thought of this before. “Speaker topics” do not necessarily match “Steph-defined sessions” — which means I need to go back and reshuffle my sessions (perfectly doable, but it’s more work) to avoid overlaps and important topics slipping through the cracks.

Has anybody had similar experiences? And for any people reading who speak at conferences, if you agree on a topic with the chair and you’re asked to make sure your talk covers aspects x, y and z of the topic, does it make you feel micro-managed? Or is it something that happens regularly?

Partial cross-post from the Going Solo blog. Also on the Going Far blog.

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Thinking About The Next Going Far Events [en]

[fr] Alors que je commence à penser aux conférences que j'organiserai après Going Solo, je me retrouve saisie par l'angoisse de la transparence. Même si je prêche l'authenticité et la transparence à mes clients, cela ne m'empêche pas d'être moi aussi sujette à la crainte d'en dire trop.

Je commence aussi à sentir le besoin de véritablement créer une entreprise. Il y a trop de travail pour moi seule. Je perçois quel devra être le profil de mon/mes associés: bon vendeur (je suis une bonne marketeuse, mais pas très douée pour clore et vendre), bon dans l'opérationnel, et qui ne rechigne pas aux tâches administratives. Il y en a probablement pour plus d'une personne, là. M'enfin, je réfléchis.

There hasn’t been much going on here, I have to admit, as I decided to postpone the actual incorporation of Going Far until Going Solo was off the ground. So, head over there (if that’s not where you’re coming from) to catch up, if necessary.

As Going Solo is taking shape, I’m really awed by how much support and how many positive responses and comments I’ve received, both from old friends and new contacts. It feels good to not be the only person to believe in what I’m doing. I have a great team of advisers, too, which has taken shape over these last months.

As I start thinking about the next events I want to organize, I find myself facing (once more) what I’m going to name “The Angst of Transparency”. Although I’m 100% sold on the idea of being transparent (the Cluetrain kool-aid and 8 years of blogging) I still find myself unsure about how much to say when business is at stake. It’s as if, when it came to myself and my own actions, I didn’t really believe what I was preaching to others. I find myself afraid, just like I sense others are afraid when I tell them transparency is the way to go. How transparent is too transparent?

I have a pretty good idea for what two (maybe three) of the next Going Far events are going to be. I’ve mentioned them in passing to a few people. I also have ideas for developing Going Solo, if the event on May 16th turns out to be the success it seems to be promising to be.

But I’m afraid to start blogging about this, on the one hand for fear of giving too much away and being overtaken (which in my right mind I find stupid), and on the other hand because it will set things in movement, and I’m already aware that there is not enough of me to deal with Going Solo itself — let alone get started on another two projects.

This is where I’m really starting to feel the need to create a company. I need other people on the boat with me. And I’m starting to see what kind of person/people I need to bring on board. I need a good salesperson. I’m good at marketing, but not so much at the actual selling/closing/getting the cash. I need somebody who’s good on the operational front, who actually gets things done, and doesn’t mind dealing with tasks like making sure people have paid, keeping track of what needs to be done when (that bit is project management, actually), and so on.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to go about finding that person or those people — but I guess having a clear “profile” in mind and making sure my advisers know what I’m looking for (and mentioning it here) is a good start. This isn’t a job ad, though. I’m far from there.

*Cross-posted from the Going Far blog.*

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Dopplr: More Fuzziness Wanted [en]

[fr] Dopplr est un de ces "social tools" (si vous avez une meilleure traduction que "outils sociaux", qui franchement, ne traduit pas du tout l'idée, faites-moi signe) qui permet à chacun d'indiquer quels sont ses prochains voyages prévus et de les partager avec ses contacts. Là où Dopplr ajoute véritablement quelque chose, c'est qu'il va informer l'utilisateur s'il se retrouve dans la même ville au même moment qu'un de ses contacts.

Dans ce billet, je parle de deux choses qui pourraient à mon avis rendre Dopplr encore plus utile: un peu de "flou spatial", pour que Dopplr "sache" que Genève c'est tout près de chez moi, et que je ne veux pas seulement être avertie quand mes amis viennent à Lausanne, mais aussi s'ils sont de passage à Genève (et pourquoi pas quand ces villes seront dans le système), Morges ou Yverdon. Et deuxièmement, du flou possible dans les dates, que je puisse indiquer si ce sont des dates "fermes" ou déplaçables -- ou encore si mon voyage est sûr ou bien en projet.

I really, really like [Dopplr](http://dopplr.com). I does something rather simple (from a user point of view) and does it well. It lets me know if [my travels](http://www.dopplr.com/traveller/steph) are bringing me in the same town as other people I know, either because they live there or because they’re travelling too. It also allows people to keep up-to-date with my travels, maybe in a more user-friendly way than my [Where is Steph?](http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=5844p36ob825j95ijode3ihm54%40group.calendar.google.com) public calendar.

My Dopplr Page

Having said that, there is a way in which Dopplr could improve its usefulness for me quite a bit, by introducing some amount of temporal and spatial fuzziness. Huh? Let’s start with the shortcomings I’ve found, and hopefully I’ll explain things more clearly. *(Ugh, feeling clumsy with English today, not sure why.)*

I have set my hometown as Lausanne, Switzerland, so when Dopplr-contacts of mine travel to Lausanne, I’m informed. Great, so far. But what if a normally US-based Dopplr-contact of mine comes to Geneva? Geneva is about 40 minutes away by train. If somebody I know, and who lives on another continent, is coming to Geneva, well, I would definitely want to know. Even if the destination was Zürich, for that matter. It’s as good as if they were headed for Lausanne.

See where I’m headed? Of course, this is a complex feature to add. For the moment, I imagine Dopplr matches trip coincidences based on location names. This would involve computing distances between various cities. It would also involve determining what level of geographical fuzziness makes sense in which situation. For example, I’m going clearly going to be interested in knowing when people who live really far off are coming less far away — hell, I might even go to Paris to meet up with some of my friends who live on the other side of the pond. I might not be that interested in knowing that a friend of mine from Geneva is travelling to Paris, when I haven’t got any plans to go there. Maybe we could have sliders somewhere to change location fuzziness easily.

The other shortcoming I’ve bumped into has to do with time (hence “temporal and spatial fuzziness”). For some of my trips, the dates are set. It’s the case with my upcoming trip to Denmark, for example. I got a special priced flight with “no changes allowed”, so the dates are set in stone. (And yes, of course, [I’d like to](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/47680572) change my return flight. Gah.) My upcoming trip to Paris in November, however, is very fuzzy. I know roughly what dates I’m going to be there, but I could head there earlier or hang around a few days once the conference is over. It would be really useful for me to be able to indicate how “hard” my travel dates are.

Another type of “time fuzziness” I’d like to have is for “not sure yet” trips. I’d like to go to India next winter — not quite sure when, not quite sure where exactly.

Of course, having said all that, I’m going to play devil’s advocate a bit (am I really?) by reminding everybody that “less is more” and that it’s often better to “do one thing, and do it well”. I feel the same about Twitter: I feel it’s missing features to make it “really great” for me, but on the other hand, I fear that adding too much to it will make it lose what makes it special and turn it into a tentacular monster. I’ve seen that happen, to some extent, with coComment — at the beginning, a rather straightforward comment tracking system, now with many layers of icing and social goodies which make me feel a bit lost when I look at it. *(Disclaimer: coComment were a client of mine, and I encouraged them to add certain features to it at the beginning — like tagging, neighbours — but now I wonder if pushing in that direction was such a good idea after all. Future will tell, I guess — version 2 is due out soon.)*

So, what’s missing to make *your* Dopplr “perfect”?

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Weekly/Monthly Planner [en]

[fr] Un agenda mensuel fait sur mesure (4 mois sur une page recto-verso).

When [my iBook last broke](http://steph.wordpress.com/2006/04/09/broken-ibook/), I found myself yet again withough my Calendar (I was using iCal religiously). I did two things: I started using Google Calendar, and I bought myself a very small and thin paper planner (my handbag tends to be in a permanent burst-at-the-seams mode).

Yesterday, I decided I needed more writing space on my planner, so I made myself a [custom monthly planner](/files/monthly-weekly-planner.pdf) [14K PDF] (get it in [Open Office 2 format](/files/monthly-weekly-planner.ods) [8K]if you want to play with it). It’s still a 0.1 alpha version so it can certainly be muchly improved.

It holds two months on each page, so by printing back and front you get four months on one sheet of paper. Keep the first column for weekly stuff and notes. Write the days of the weeks in the top row (month in the first cell). Add date (just the day!) in the corner of each square. There are six lines in each day to make it easier to organise stuff (two for morning, two for afternoon, two for evening, or however you please).

If you download it and make improvements, be sure to share them with us!

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