This blog is my personal site, but I’ll be using it to support my work as a Fellow of the Interactivity Foundation or “IF.” The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit devoted to more–helping more people think of more aspects of complex social and political issues and to think of more possibilities for society to address these issues through collaborative and highly interactive discussions.You can find out more about what we do by looking at some of the other entries in this “About” section:
- The Interactivity Foundation’s Activities gives an overview of the kinds of projects or discussion activities we support
- Participating in a Project fills in a bit more of what it’s like to take part in one of our extended Sanctuary Discussion Projects
- What are Sanctuary Discussions? will tell a bit more about what we mean by sanctuary discussions
You can also find out more about IF at the official website.
I’m calling this blog “Think IF…” because our work is all about exploring possibilities. It’s about asking, “what if…?” It’s about helping people think together about what could be rather than just studying what is or what has been.
My own background is in philosophy and religious studies. I taught for a while at various levels (from working with regular and special ed elementary students to working with college students). I see my current work as a way to take philosophical thinking out of books and out of the classroom and out into the world. It’s a way to take philosophy live, a way to recapture some of Socrates’ original approach of engaging people, all people, in discussions about what they think.
Another “Socratic” aspect of my current work is that we believe strongly in the value of being perplexed, that it’s ok to admit you don’t have it all figured out, and that many important discoveries occur only through the process of being perplexed and recognizing complexity. In our discussion projects, we focus on topics that are too big for any one form of expertise to master. And we believe in the value of having non-expert facilitators, facilitators who can help the group have a kind of “beginner’s mind” when it comes to seeing and developing new possibilities. So, in the discussion projects I conduct for the Interactivity Foundation, I serve as a “facilitator” of the thinking of the group of citizens with whom I’m working. I help them keep their explorations open to new ideas or new perspectives. I help them develop their thinking over time by taking notes and shaping up their material so they can keep building on it. But I don’t “lead” the group by teaching them what to think or by directing them to answers I have in mind. For me, this has been some of the most intellectually creative and rewarding work of my career.