Joshua Nomen-Mutatio's Reviews > Open Space Technology: A User's Guide

Open Space Technology by Harrison Owen
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message 1: by David (new)

David Cerruti The title caught my eye. What the hell is Open Space Technology?

I first thought it might be about Open Office, a design concept promoted in a brilliant marketing book in the late 1960’s by Herman Miller, a furniture company. Although it inspired designers and architects, that utopian vision decayed into the cubicle farms populated by the Dilberts of the world.

No, that wasn’t it. The publisher’s description on the goodreads book page was equally vague.
“Open Space Technology: A User's Guide is just what the name implies:” No help there.

When in doubt, try Wikipedia. Bingo.
“Open Space Technology (OST) is an approach for hosting meetings, conferences, corporate-style retreats and community summit events, focused on a specific and important purpose or task -- but beginning without any formal agenda, beyond the overall purpose or theme.”

Aha! Another paragraph in the Wikipedia is revealing.
“Harrison Owen agreed to organize OT-3 for the following year, but by his own account, did not relish another year of work to manage all the details. Upon volunteering to host the third symposium, he retreated to the bar, where he consistently claims to have discovered what he later called the "Open Space" approach to meetings and events, at the bottom of his second martini.”

Notice he calls it Open Space, not Open Space Technology. Technology was added by someone else, memorialized in the N Y Times, and the name stuck. It seems more like a philosophy than a technology. If you are curious, see the Wikipedia article.



Joshua Nomen-Mutatio The word 'technology' is more or less misleading there, though linguistically proper all the same.

This was a boring book that I read while taking a class on social and political activism in college. I gave it three stars because we implemented his techniques and held a day of organized brainstorming sessions about how to make some positive changes around our school and broader community--which was fruitful.


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