In response to my Twit about human barometers and NASA I was asked on Facebook what a human barometer is by a buddy of mine in the broader space community. Good question. Answer:
Picture a typical butt-in-seat space conference without a lot of interaction or excitement. then get everyone out of their seats, ask them a provocative question, and get them to line up where they fall along a line from agree to disagree with the question… then have people in each part of the line say why they chose to stand there –> human barometer on whatever question you asked. Serves to gather interesting opinion data, also gets people up and active (especially good to kick off early morning conferences), and also gets the people at the conference to get a sense of the cultural profile of their fellow participants… offline social network profiling. Oh– and it’s fun.
What happened today is that I was part of a conference where the moderator of a session ran a barometer and gave attribution to someone in the audience who had run a barometer at another NASA event that the moderator had attended and enjoyed… But of course the person receiving the verbal attribution had gotten it from me at yet another NASA event that I had run that she had attended and enjoyed! And I have gotten it from a great friend who at a political technology geek event in Oakland! I *loved* the meme and the practice of the barometer coming back into my personal space at a NASA event without (anymore) having to have any association with or dependence on me! T’was perfect.
Full credit to Allen Gunn for inventing the human barometer (as far as I know) and schooling me experientially in its appropriate and effective use.