Mediated Mirrors


Our participants are smart. They’re already talking with each other and doing the work. When they’re in the room together, they experience that viscerally. When they’re disperse, they don’t sense it directly, so it becomes a matter of faith.

Our job is to reinforce that faith by creating mechanisms that enable them to see each other, especially (but not limited to) when they’re not in the room together. Once they see themselves, they’ll know what to do, and they’ll act accordingly.

We’re essentially putting a mirror in front of all of them, except we can do a lot more than show a physical reflection. I hope yesterday’s visualization brainstorm is helping you all see the possibilities.

To truly design this well, we want to take advantage of a beautiful little side effect. Mirrors are great, but mediated reflections are better. When a reflection is mediated, people not only see themselves, they see themselves through another person’s eyes. In other words, they know that they are being seen.

Listening and reflecting back is critical for the work, but it’s also a relational experience. It tells people that they matter. It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about @idelisse’s sketching experiment, where she’s not just capturing people’s words, she’s showing their spirit.

Reflection is our role, but we shouldn’t be the only ones doing it. The more we can help our participants build that muscle and habit, the more powerful this network will become. It’s another reason I’m emphasizing the sharing muscle itself and am de-emphasizing the content of what they share. Sure, it’s valuable for everyone else to get to see what folks talk about, but it’s even more valuable for people to see themselves reflected in each other’s eyes, even in small ways.

Part of the fun and challenge of our work is experimenting with mediated mirrors. But right now, we’re faced with a much more fundamental challenge: Getting the participants to look!