“Social media has come to be understood as little more than a marketing opportunity. However, we see it as quite possibly the catalyst for the next stage of human evolution and, at the very least, a way to restore bottom-up participation, p2p value exchange and decentralized innovation to the realms of culture, commerce and government.” – Douglas Rushkoff

I was approached by Douglas Rushkoff a few months ago to help organize a gathering. The intention was presented as something like ‘social media meets Burning Man.’ Of course, my interest was piqued, and now I’m Executive Director for organizing the event.

We’re bringing together technologists, artists, activists, businesspeople, funders, and other stakeholders in the networked future to hatch new ideas, develop and nourish exciting existing concepts, connect collaborators, and forge an ongoing community for innovating social media and beyond.

The morning will start with brief “provocations” on stage by our featured participants to get our juices flowing, then transition to an unconference style format during the afternoon. This will consist of breakout sessions convened by the participants to share their challenges, experience, insights, and foster new connections to bring their ideas to reality. Then to the Bazaar:

At the epicenter of Contact will be the Bazaar – a free-form marketplace of ideas, demos, haggling, and ad-hoc connections. If you have visited the Akihabara, Tokyo’s ultra-vibrant open-air electronics market, or the under-the-highway open-air jade market of Kowloon, or even the Burning Man festival, you understand the power of combining commerce, physical location, and serendipity. A decidedly unstructured counterpart to the convened meetings and solo provocations, the Bazaar brings p2p to life, encouraging introductions, brokering, deal-making, food-tasting, and propositions of every kind. It is where the social, business, political, and spiritual agendas merge into one human agenda: Contact.

We’ve got a great list of confirmed participants so far:

Mark Pesce – inventor, technologist, futurist
Marc Canter – founder Macromedia, founder Digital City Project
Michel Bauwens – P2P Foundation
Dave Winer – pioneer of weblogs, RSS, founder Scripting News
Rachel Rosenfelt – founder, The New Inquiry
Richard Metzger – founder, Disinformation and Dangerous Minds
Scott Heiferman – founder, Meetup.com
Venessa Miemis – media activist and artist, founder Emergent by Design
Eli Pariser – founder, MoveOn.org
Paul Hartzog, co-founder, the Future Forward Institute
Steven Johnson – author, founder OutsideIn
Andrew Rasiej – co-founder Personal Democracy Forum
Micah Sifry – co-founder Personal Democracy Forum
Nick Philip – designer, founder The Imaginary Foundation
Adam Fisk – Lead developer for Limewire, Founder of LittleShoot
Nathan Solomon – co-founder, Superfluid
Sam Rose – Forward Foundation
Richard Adler – co-founder, the Future Forward Institute
Art Brock – The MetaCurrency Project
Neal Gorenflo – founder, Shareable
Micah Daigle – Dynamic Democracy Foundation
Genesis P-Orridge – musician, artist, founder Throbbing Gristle
Thomas BenjaminTor Project
Matt Cooperrider – Gov 2.0 developer – Collabforge
Ken Jordan – Evolver.net
Reverend Billy – Church of Life After Shopping
RU Sirius – editor, Mondo2000, h+ magazine
Caroline Woolard – founder, TradeSchool and OurGoods
George Por – founder, CommunityIntelligence
Danielle Lanyard – founder, Third Rail Ventures
Suresh Fernando – co-founder, OpenKollab

Though social media has a potential impact on many/most areas of our lives, below are the main areas we’re focusing on:

  • Technology:

– Can we build a new Internet that can’t be turned off?
– Alternatives to top-down registries and corporate-controlled access
– A decentralized version of Facebook?
– Discussions underway on google group: The Next Net

  • Business and Economics:

– New net-based currencies and transaction networks
– Net-enabled Local Activism and Job Creation
– new business models and structures for collaboration & business innovation
– new opportunities for the social enterprise

  • Government 2.0:

– Proxy voting to expert friends
– Open source democracy
– Ad hoc network technology for activists, refugees, and dissidents

  • Human Futures:

– What Factors Facilitate Collective Intelligence?
– The Reclamation of the Commons and Public Space

Conversations are happening around these topics all over the web – we’re doing our best to find you and cross-pollinate people and ideas so we can accelerate the rate of magic. 🙂

Let us know how we can make this event more awesome!

Check out the Contact website for more info and to register

Ask a question on Quora on the Contact Summit topic

Participate in the Contact forums

Visit us on Facebook

Follow updates and news on Twitter: @contactcon

Hope to see you in October!

full press release here