Cultivating the art of convening: the second half of 2022 in review
As can often be the case at this stage of year, time seems to speed up. And at the same moment, I usually feel as though this is the time of year for reflection…
This combination of thoughts has led me to think about what I’ve been up to since doing my PhD confirmation / Thesis Proposal Review milestone back in June this year (see this post for more info on that).
And the short answer is: a lot. Particularly when it comes to convening spaces and ideas. This blog post provides a small snapshot of what has happened over the past few months.
In August: I was so thrilled to be invited to present on dignity and cybernetics at the Desert Knowledge Research Institute’s ‘Desert Lab for Healthy Media’. My role became to try to connect emerging themes from a very transdisciplinary group. You can read more about the experience here.
In September: After months of planning, alongside co-convenors Glen Berman and Linda Przhedetsky, we facilitated a workshop for 25 mid-stage PhD students from Australia and New Zealand — Innovative Methods for Critical Studies of Emerging Technologies. It was great to trial using the coaching circle model that I learned whilst doing the Presencing Institute u.lab a year ago with this group of PhD students(and with such success!). You can read more about this here.
In October and November: I had a whirlwind of events and media-related activities take place during October and November.
It started off with a presentation to a 600-strong audience at the Purpose Conference. My talk outlined 3 dangerzones and corresponding guiding lights that people can use as check-ins on how they’re faring in terms of being responsible. I’m looking forward to continuing to test and refine these ideas over time.
Next, there were a couple of events associated with the Spark Festival — an annual entrepreneurship festival! I was involved in a panel event on Imagining better futures with cybernetics as well as a workshop designed for entrepreneurs testing out some of the initial ideas on the emerging framings of dignity. For more information on the panel event, take a look at this blog.
And then a variety of media-related events emerged including:
- Podcast with UTS Think Business Futures
- Appearance on Ausbiz TV #startupdaily
- Interviewed by Robyn Williams on the ABC Radio National’s Science Show
Oooof! That was hectic!
In December: I was so excited to participate in the Algorithmic Futures Policy Lab Human-Machine Collaboration workshop in Paris (HMC22). I presented on Centring dignity in the responsible design of human-machine collaborations: an exploration and chaired a panel on Responsibility in HMC. A blog on this is forthcoming!
While in Paris, I also presented the work done in collaboration with Paola Oliva-Altamirano from Our Community Innovation Lab where we applied the Dignity Lens to a classification algorithm she had recently developed. This was presented at the OzCHI conference (which was taking place in Canberra!). The name of our presentation was Centring dignity in algorithm development: testing a Dignity Lens.
Over the past 6 months in particular, and through this range of activities, I feel I have been cultivating the art of convening. In some cases, convening people (like with the PhD workshop or with the Spark Festival events) and in other cases, convening ideas (like with my involvement in various presentations and talks). I look forward to continuing to hone this skill and others over 2023!
Lorenn Ruster is a social-justice driven professional and systems change consultant. Currently, Lorenn is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University’s School of Cybernetics and a Responsible Tech Collaborator at Centre for Public Impact. Previously, Lorenn was a Director at PwC’s Indigenous Consulting and a Director of Marketing & Innovation at a Ugandan Solar Energy Company whilst a Global Fellow with Impact Investor, Acumen. She also co-founded a social enterprise leveraging sensor technology for community-led landmine detection whilst a part of Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program. Her research investigates conditions for dignity-centred AI development, with a particular focus on entrepreneurial ecosystems.