The Tribrid Experience
When I attended the Wisdom 2.0 Summit last week, it was described as part-physical, part-virtual. A dual form, sometimes called a “hybrid event.” In a meet-up before the conference kickoff, I called it “tribrid” instead, using a beautiful term coined by XR Immersive Tech & Experience Strategist Kathleen Cohen. The word itself reaches me deeply and seems so spot-on appropriate for this time, as many in-person events spring back to life while simultaneously offering virtual gatherings.
It can be confusing, how to navigate the physical-virtual, and where to place our attention. Have you ever been at a live in-person event and witnessed a sea of audience all staring at their phones? It’s a strange feeling to see this, and it’s not the type of presence and connection we’re aiming for with digital wellbeing in mind. (note: This wasn’t the case at Wisdom 2.0, SXSW, IVRHA, and other amazing gatherings I’ve attended lately, thank goodness!)
Wisdom 2.0’s Annie Gallagher asked me to describe “the tribrid experience” for our group of attendees as the conference was about to kickoff, and this is what came out of it, in my stream-of-consciousness prose. In sum, when looking at social events and gatherings, there are levels of interaction, crossovers, intentional merging and freedom for spontaneous convergence.
That “Tribrid Experience” is special, and Wisdom was one great example of it taking shape. The Wisdom 2.0 gathering was a community of part-physical, part-digital, choosing to be integrative. It’s not only physical, and not only digital, it’s both. By design and intention, there were meeting spaces between both worlds, and an intersectionality that welcomed BOTH spaces in an overlapping way.
Having just experienced Wisdom 2.0 in-person, there are many ways to build on the Tribrid idea and philosophy in practice. There are special parts about existing in physical connection. There are also remarkable intimate connections that form in digital worlds. And, as we intersect and fold the digital and physical in with each other, there is a beautiful space where what is hybrid (dual) becomes tribrid as we overlap and connect. The oneness of the experience, eventually, also relates to how our attention and intention are placed in that spirit of togetherness.
It’s a poetic concept, then, when it comes to “tribrid” community and ultimately oneness… and there are a multitude of approaches. We contain multitudes. I was excited to meet everyone in physical form at Wisdom 2.0 and to have had more of these connected conversations that build from here! For me, this is part of digital wellbeing: deeper than treating the tech and the digital spaces as purely negative, they become bridges to connection if used with intention. It’s about agency and creating healthy rhythms.
In this way, we can stretch beyond classical notions of “digital detoxes” and “resets,” inviting choice, dignity, invention… freedom, into the equaltion of how we approach our own tribrid personal landscape. I do think it starts with tuning into the physical…
As an additional example of this Tribrid-izing in conferences: I attended both the IVRHA conference and SXSW festival in-person this March, and as someone working in the digital wellbeing and innovation space, it was tremendously exciting to be there in physicality. I was gentle with myself, too, as my senses were taking in the fullness of the experiences. I let myself “wander and wonder” at times, because a rigid expectation of agenda didn’t fit the serendipitous discoveries that live-time often presents.
I encouraged myself to get playful, expressive, gentle and attentive to myself in-the-moment. I offer that up to anyone who might find it useful. If we are traveling for the first time in a while in physical form to be together, know that our bodies will be adjusting and it’s going to feel exciting to be there in-person with everyone. It could be that our bodies arrive in physical form before our minds and the fullness of consciousness have a chance to catch up, without grounding, breathing, arriving… this is how it feels for me sometimes at least! In this sense, “emergence” as a theme asks for that gentleness and grace, knowing that an extra bit of kindness goes a long way. We can take our time in arriving and showing up for ourselves and each other.
Tribrid gives us an opportunity to do that, with gratitude and joy, in a way that feels connected and interwoven. As we look to foster meaningful interactions in collectives, guilds, DAOs and other forms of communities worldwide, it’s worth pausing to consider that we’re not there yet, in knowing how to make the most out of physical and digital worlds coexisting and being aware of their coexistence. There’s friction at this stage, and it’s important to keep testing, keep collecting stories, and keep on pursuing worthwhile goals with ethical standards, so that the social places we inhabit, in a Tribrid world, are ones in which we flourish as humans.