Virtually Connecting Manifesto

(draft and likely to be constantly evolving because we never stop learning)

This is a statement of our values, motives and goals in virtually connecting

  1. We are motivated by a desire to improve the virtual conference experience for those who cannot be present at conferences for financial, logistical, social or health reasons. This often includes unaffiliated scholars, graduate students, adjuncts, moms of young kids, and people from developing countries or countries far away from where most academic conferences are held.
  2. While our aim is to be inclusive, we recognize that inclusion is elusive. When others point out to us ways to be more inclusive we try them. We are trying to both support the development of social capital for people who cannot attend conferences, and to generously do so as widely as we are able. We try to welcome and create space for new people to participate. The way we have expanded means many who were participants are now part of the team and this creates more space for new participants as we widen our circle
  3. Our focus is on conversation not content; we aim to create a participatory experience. Our goal is to go beyond the production of consumable media and provide an avenue for virtual and onsite people to converse directly with one another during the buzz and excitement of the conference. Many (though not all) of our conversations are live streamed and recorded for those looking to get a taste of the conversation who could not participate for whatever reason. While we appreciate conferences that stream sessions/keynotes and individuals that use live-stream apps and software (with permission) to capture these events, this is not our mission or focus.
  4. We are a team of volunteers. Everyone who is an onsite, virtual or blogging buddy is a volunteer. Volunteers are welcome to join us for a minute, a hangout, a conference, or become team members. We welcome new volunteers – join us here. We are committed to reducing stress/effort of buddies, so we have started to encourage teams of onsite buddies to support each other and teams of virtual buddies to handle different logistics such as email, g+ and twitter, as well as the actual hangout management. This team approach fosters deeper connections between those involved in running virtually connecting.
  5. We do not aim to disrupt the onsite experience – we aim to only take up a few minutes of an onsite person’s (informal) time to offer it to those not privileged enough to attend the conference. This usually takes up part of ONE coffee break or lunch break. We do not intrude on social events (like receptions or dinners) unless offered to us. Joining is a choice, and any individual is free NOT to join (for whatever reason). We will never force an onsite or virtual person to join a hangout without their consent/willingness to do so and we will take steps to assure that bystanders are not caught in the video stream unknowingly.
  6. We consider ourselves to be free agents – While we welcome conference partnership (e.g. conferences organizers that mention us in sessions, give us space onsite with good wifi or space on their website or blog, or offer us free/reduced registration) we think of ourselves as guerilla connectors and we feel we are free to meet individuals at conferences without needing organizer permission.
  7. We are open to constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. Constructive criticisms of this manifesto; our values, motives, and goals as well as of our onsite and virtual practices are welcomed. We are looking to continually improve. We ask that these are worded in ways that would not be conceived as personal attacks.
  8. We aim to have fun and embrace spontaneity and imperfection 🙂 We recognize this kind of thing isn’t fun or accessible for everyone.