About Contact

Contact is a working festival of innovation where the net's leading minds and entrepreneurs can connect with the people who are building the social technologies of tomorrow. The net of the future will not be fueled by ads, but by people solving real problems through distributed, peer-to-peer solutions. This is dormant promise of the Internet, finally coming to fruition.

The content of the day will be organized along four main tracks:

Technology and Society
Business and Economics
Arts & Learning
Government

But instead of sitting and listening to speeches and panels of world-renowned experts (something we can do just as well online) participants will have the chance to task these innovators and experts with their own challenges. Ask Dennis Crowley (the founder of Foursquare) to evaluate your location-based technology. Have Clay Shirky consider the implications of your social strategy. Invite Eli Pariser (founder of MoveOn.org) to improve the effectiveness of your campaigning tool. Yes, they're all coming.

The schedule for the day is here.

Here's how the day will work: In the morning, we'll assemble and hear about a dozen short "provocations" from some of our featured participants. These are intended to spur our thinking, teach us the latest concepts in net development - from gamification to alternative currency - and share the biggest challenges facing the net development community.

After that, Douglas Rushkoff will set the agenda, and facilitate the scheduling of sessions that participants wish to convene during specific times throughout the day. There will be three time slots for these meetings, and up to twenty meetings occurring simultaneously. Participants are free to move from meeting to meeting. Each meeting will assign a moderator and a reporter. After a meeting is over the reporter will post a paragraph summary of the meeting's findings to an online BBS.

Midday, we will break for two hours to have lunch and experience the Bazaar - at the same time. The entire space will become a marketplace of demo stations and food carts. Participants, companies, and organizations who have signed up for table space in advance can now conduct demos, peddle their wares, and seek customers, collaborators, advisers, or even investors.

Bazaar demos may also be entered in the Innovation Awards. Judges, picked from among the featured participants, will observe the demos and ask questions.

After lunch, we will make additions and changes to our schedule and then continue with our convened sessions.

After the third meetings slot and an afternoon break, we will again come together as a group, review some of the ideas and initiatives to emerge from our meetings, and then vote on the three or four that we really want to see move forward in some fashion. Then we'll convene one more meeting slot to develop next steps for realizing these ideas.

Additionally, all topics reported will remain on the BBS so that participants - and the greater Contact community - can keep the conversation going. (The BBS can also be printed out by those who want tangible "takeaways" for themselves or their co-workers at home.)

At the end of the day, we'll wrap up with the Bazaar Cabaret. Demonstrations can continue, along with drinks, music and "edge" entertainment, and the announcement of the winners of the three $10,000 Contact Awards.

Around the world on the same day, those who share in our goals will be convening their own Contact Meetups. They will have access to the Contact BBS to report on their own meetings, and will be able to watch video of our provocations (as well as a few special videos we're making just for them).

\Following Contact, participants will be free to continue and expand their conversations and collaborations using the BBS.