Conceptual speed dating

Submitted by Sonia Nikitin, Université Lyon 2

The method is a “knowledge-sharing-speed-dating” in which the group of participants is separated into two groups – 1 moving group and 1 static group. The idea is to fix a time frame for 2 people to discuss a text/concept/ experience, to ask them to produce something from this short discussion (e.g. 2 words from the text) and then change stations. In the end these chosen words or outcomes can be used to either open up the discussion or to create a text or other material. Expected outcome of this method is to widen the discussions between participants to include all relevant perspectives that concern the proposed starting point (text, concept or other).

In which context was the method developed?

There is some documentation on senselab ( ), an international network of artists and academics, writers and makers, from a wide diversity of fields, working together at the crossroads of philosophy, art, and activism, but I am not sure that the method was developed by them.

Settings and participants the method is best suited for

This method is suited for all kinds of groups that are comfortable in discussing in little groups. It might be difficult to use this method with younger participants (children) as there is a fixed frame (time).


This method can be used in big spaces for groups to have enough space to avoid interferences. Some material could be necessary according to the different media that can be used (paper, scissors, pens, etc.). Participants should be open and comfortable with discussing face-to-face with each other.

Experiences with the method

I have tested the method in the context of a summer school. The method was carried out outside in the grass and connected with an artistic practice : first, all participants started creating a web of yarns around a tree that, for me, symbolized the entanglement of all different ideas, perspectives, opinions, relations. Then, the text originally written by the organizers of the school was discussed through this method (questions were : how do you understand the text after being at the summer school for a week ? Which parts make you reflect on your experience ? What resonates, what don’t ? etc.) Each group had 7 minutes to discuss, then chose 2 words from the text or from their discussion and stuck them to the web.

As second part of the experience there were 1 “reader” and 1 “scribe” that volunteered : the reader would follow the yarns of the web and read out loud the words he/she met on his/her “pathway” – the scribe wrote down these words and then wrote a text out of them, that would “replace” the first argument/text the group discussed. This exercise was done several times and the texts were then read for everyone.