Thursday, 31 January 2008

NOT an un-meeting: attending the EuroAfrican & ICT meeting in Brussels, Belgium

At this moment I am attending a formal (very formal) meeting of the EuroAfrican & ICT group that focusses on possible collaboration for FP7 programs.

No idea of the real knowledge that is in the room. The attendees are all experienced and bring a lot of expertise, but the meeting is not constructed in such a way that all this expertise is exchanged, which is a bit of a pity.

There is a need to give an overview of the successful projects that were done, and so presentations are a part of the meeting, but... what about connecting to one another? Why not - in a second phase of the meeting or on a possible second day - take away all the table boundaries and build more informal gathering spaces. This could easily be done by putting some tables with major topics around which one could collaborate (human health, agriculture, veterinary health ... other research topics). And then let the participants just gather (not sit and become passive, but stand (if physically possible of course) and start discussing, brainstorming, building on collaboration.

Informality would increase the partnership output, would increas networking and getting to know each others knowledge and possible plans or problems.

I also have a gut-feeling that if the hierarchy would be taken out, a more eclectic cultural approach would be possible as well. Formality most of the times enforces the power of the strongest culture, thus pushing that old agenda as well.

I wonder if any of the questions that arose during the meeting will be taken up in the minutes and if the minutes will be made public?

All of these things to ask the chairperson and organisers.