Last Wednesday night, I organised a Google Hangout for Third Place.
For those who aren’t aware, I created Third Place, a meetup group for anyone interested in learning, performance and development across all fields. What started out as meetups in Melbourne only are now in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Adelaide and all run by a small band of volunteers. It’s a place where we can come together with no formalities, structure or obligations; no formal events or programs or associations with learning vendors or services.
It’s a place where conversations occur naturally and where we learn, share and network with each other through sharing stories of our own experiences, our work, our learning all through conversation. It’s not your home, or your work – but it’s a place where you can go to share your passion about learning with other like-mind individuals.
It can be anything members want it to be for their own particular needs.
At times, for the Melbourne locals, we even co-work at various co-working spaces around the city.
Even though our gatherings are in person, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet our interstate members. Unless we’re going to a conference or flying interstate, it’s unlikely we meet many people in person. For some time now, I have been thinking of organising an online hangout or Skype for everyone in Third Place to meet online.
So in an effort to learn more about Google Hangouts, I created a private Google Hangout on Wednesday night for 10 people. The reason for making it private was to test the functionality but I also didn’t want to have a Hangout-On-Air to have it made available to a public audience without the approval of those attending. Also, as it was the first meeting, it was likely to be people having a laugh and introducing themselves and what they do. (In future, I am certainly entertaining the thought for creating Hangouts-on-Air around particular topics and themes of interest).
We had over 23 people express interest to join the hangout and lots of chatter in the meetup community. Nine people joined the hangout with one join after the hangout had ended (and so we created a new one where three of us continued to talk for another hour). We had one from South Australia, two from Sydney and the rest from Melbourne. Many of the members didn’t know each other – or had heard of each other or worked with mutual friends and colleagues.
With our cups of coffee or glasses of wine in our hands, we introduced ourselves and what we did for work. It is always awkward in an online environment when one person wants to speak at the same time as someone else but overall, the main aim was to meet each other as well as learn about Google Hangouts. Google Effects proved to be a wonderful ice breaker where people chose different effects (hats, moustaches, glasses and sound effects) to introduce themselves. We learned that some tools are not available on Google Hangouts as some people had accessed the hangout from their iPads and tablets.
We will organise more Hangouts like this again in the near future as it’s a great way to get everyone in Third Place introduced without the ” tyranny of distance” as they say. We will also look at using these chats centred around particular themes and topics or having people show their work so everyone has an opportunity to ask questions in an informal social setting all in the comfort of their own home.
Many people ask me what my plan is for Third Place. Really, there is no plan. That’s the whole idea of it. Third Place is my Third Place. Now as a freelancer, it has become significant for my own networking and personal development – and it’s local. It means that if I want to learn or explore something in my own city that relates to learning and development – in any format – I open the invitation to others to share the experience with me so that we can get some new ideas and applications for our own work.
Want to find out more about the concept of Third Places? Read Catherine Cronin’s (@CatherineCronin) great blog post on A Conversation About Third Space, Third Place and Liminality