About Open Space Technology
Open Space Technology was discovered by Harrison Owen. After spending over a year organizing a conference, the reports he received were that the best parts of the conference were the coffee breaks. He wondered if there was a way to sustain the experience of the coffee breaks. Thus was Open Space Technology born.
The basics of Open Space Technology take a short time to learn, but a lifetime to master. The agenda of an OST meeting for 5-2000 people is generated by the attendees. Usually meeting in a circle with a brief introduction to the purpose of the meeting, the attendees are invited to take responsibility for what they care about by writing something they are willing to convene a session about, and then to announce and post that session page on a bulletin board that communicates the time and the place of that session. All participants are then invited to go to the bulletin board to sign up for what they want to attend and to negotiate with the session convenors if they would like to request changes to the schedule. After a short time for this negotiation, the sessions will proceed until the end of the day. Then everyone will gather again together in a circle to share news from the day. This goes on usually for one to three days, and the reports from the sessions are often gathered together as a book of proceedings, either hard copy or on a website or wiki.
There are numerous articles about Open Space Technology available on the internet. You may want to read them:
If you are serious about convening an Open Space Technology style meeting, Harrison Owen wrote Open Space Technology: A User's Guide, which is very helpful. This book along with several others he and others have written that are useful for understanding and conducting OST meetings can be purchased online.