“Knowledge Café” is not just a name for a conversational method that brings people together in conversation but a metaphor for that process.
The term “café,” frequently written as “cafe” without the e-acute accent, comes from the French and means “coffee.”
And of course, a café is a small restaurant which mostly serves coffee, tea, other drinks and an assortment of snacks.
But cafés are far more than places to eat and drink.
They are places where people, usually friends and sometimes strangers, meet in pairs or small groups to have informal conversations and to socialize.
They are also places to read books, magazines, and newspapers.
Many cafés have comfy, easy chairs or sofas or small nooks where people can relax, chat in comfort and chill a little.
Today, many people use them to access the Internet through their laptops or smartphones, sometimes to browse the web, other times to work but frequently to chat with other people on Facebook or Whatsapp.
In short, cafés are hospitable, social places where people go to connect, to have conversations, face-to-face or virtual and to read.
In some ways, the coffee and food are secondary, though conversation is always enhanced while eating and drinking together.
Cafés have a long and distinguished history as places of creativity and innovation where people meet to talk and exchange information going back to the Enlightenment Coffeehouses (or penny universities as they were sometimes known) of 17th and 18th century London.
And “knowledge”? It is through conversation that we learn and develop our personal knowledge.
So a café makes an apt metaphor for the social conversations and the quest for knowledge that you find in a Knowledge Café.
This page is part of an online book on Conversational Leadership that I am in the process of writing.
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