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Special Guest - Reimagining the ways we gather online

Bringing new ideas, creativity and energy into online spaces with Special Guests.

Photo of Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan
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We're exploring new possibilities of meeting and gathering online. 

Special Guest is an experimental marketplace, a platform for artists and communities to work together to imagine and bring to life new ways of meeting. 

Special Guest is a service to the public. Anyone can book an artist to join their video calls, whether for a work meeting, community gathering, or virtual block party.

Some Special Guests solve specific problems with meetings (making sure everyone has time to speak, supporting key voices, making sure the meeting ends on time); other Special Guests foster joy and connection (bringing music, art, or cooperative play to a meeting); and other Special Guests are prototypes of transformative solutions (asking *why* at all the right moments).

As a service, Special Guest asks: how are we connecting to one another? Why are we gathering? Can we imagine new forms and structure for remote gathering, collaboration and connection?

What is the need are you focusing on?

Online gatherings and meetings replicate old, broken systems that never worked well, even in person. When we try to reproduce these meetings over video calls, it's much worse. Technology breaks down, noise interferes, and social cues are missed, causing misunderstandings, stress, and the erosion of connections.

Right now every community, business, and organization desperately needs communication, connection, and trust, and the current state of online gatherings is dehumanizing, glitchy, and alienating.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed
  • Sharing an actual pivot your organization has already made

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

Our service connects people who need re-imagination, re-design, and transformation with people who have the skills to do it. Our service is about bringing people together so they can build better ways of meeting and gathering online.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

We hope people will wonder why meetings are so often broken and inhumane. We hope people will wonder if there are other ways of gathering. We hope people will question the foundations of why we gather in the ways that we do. We will connect artists to the communities who desperately need better meetings. We will help communities redesign gatherings in ways that work for them: building connection, communication and trust.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Special Guest

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

What is your profession?

Play Design

Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Activist/Community Leader/Organizer
  • Arts/Entertainment

How old is your business/company?

  • Less than 1 year old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Other

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Funding- Investment
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

We need help prototyping and building this idea into something that serves all parties. We need support with marketing to reach more diverse communities.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

We anticipate: challenges connecting different stakeholders with different values; challenges creating a service that serves all parties; and hope to avoid accidentally creating a gig economy for meetings.

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