About two weeks ago I got to attend my very first “JAM”, it was the Global Sustainability Jam in Milan and it was an interesting experience…But what is a JAM exactly? I got asked this question when I posted about the upcoming dates for the Global Service JAM next year; and here’s the answer:
It all dates back to the original Jam Sessions of Music, where musicians play or “jam” by improvising without any previous preparation, the Jams were often used to develop new material, find suitable arrangements, or simply as a social gathering and communal practice session; basically a creative session. People came together bringing their tools and skills and started jamming around a common theme, exchanging ideas back and forth to build something that otherwise would’ve been impossible, all while having fun.
So, in these Jams, what you are Jamming is not music but ideas! always around a general theme (which is very abstract to keep it open and free, as well as inspiring for people with different backgrounds and expertise), decided by the “Global Council”; and not just that, but to turn these ideas into a concrete design, prototype and plan of action which somebody might want to make real… You’ll be making contacts and sharing knowledge in the best possible way: by actually working through ideas, plans and problems with other people. And it’s global because there are multiple locations worldwide Jamming at the same time: on 48 hours, from Friday around 5 PM until Sunday at 3 PM local time.
The Global Service Jam is a non-profit volunteer activity organized by an informal network of service design aficionados, who all share a common passion for growing the field of service design and customer experience; the Jam has a staff of none and a budget of nearly nothing… The first Global Service Jam took place in March 2011, with more than 1200 participants in more than 50 cities around the world with the common theme: “(Super)HEROES”, and then came the Global Sustainability Jam (October 2011) with the theme “PLAYGROUNDS”.
The initiators behind this movement are Markus Hormess and Adam Lawrence from Work•Play•Experience (an agency who uses theatrical methods to develop services); the idea came from Markus, who is involved in the Global Game Jam and wanted to take all the energy from that event into his field of interest: Service Design, following their philosophy of “doing, not talking”. The Jam was built around and invitation to play through Twitter mainly, they wanted to make it fun and easy to join so they kept it free for local groups to shape it as they liked, in the end every Jam should be fun, hard work, and a little crazy.
But there was another very similar Jam that happened before… The Design Jam, that is centered around User Experience (UX) Challenges, and it varies from one to three days of length. It was started in London back in 2010 by Desigan Chinniah, Joe Lanman, Franco Papeschi and Johanna Kollmann, and what they wanted to do was to create an event to warm up and get more designer to the Hack Days, and although not as big as the other Global Jams, it then turn into an event of its own having several participants from all over the world to improve collaboration skills and practice different UX techniques.
I hope this post leaves you wanting to attend a Jam or who knows even organize one in your location (I know some of my classmates have), and I will for sure be telling you about my future experiences in these Jams, I hope you do the same.
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