Frequently Asked Questions

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    What is the Dialogue Café project?
    Dialogue Café is a non-profit initiative, which uses state of the art video conferencing technology to enable face-to-face conversations between diverse groups of people from around the world so that they can share experiences, learn from each other and work together to make the world a better place.

    With support from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Cisco, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Anna Lindh Foundation and others, the Dialogue Café Association is creating a global network of physical spaces – Dialogue Cafés which will provide access to state of the art video conferencing technology, TelePresence, to enable city-to-city and multi-city conversations and activities. These Dialogue Cafés will be connected through a global exchange that links cafés across the world to enable informal conversations as well as more structured multi-city activities such as workshops, seminars, conferences, concerts and lectures.
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    How did you get the idea for Dialogue Café?
    The concept of Dialogue Café is based on the radical but simple idea that people have many things in common and given the opportunity, they will explore their common interests, sparking collaborations and stimulating ideas that address the major issues of today. We believe that these kinds of conversations and collaborations can lead to new ways of thinking and doing: they can empower individuals and communities, break down prejudice and misconceptions and promote greater understanding and co-operation across cultures.
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    Where can we find Dialogue Café’s today?
    The first two Dialogue Cafes were opened in Lisbon and Rio de Janerio in early 2011. We're now also in Amsterdam, Ramallah and Cleveland.
    For more information go to our network
  4. 4
    When will the next Dialogue Cafés open?
    Dialogue Café is now in its Beta phase. Over the next 12-18 months, Dialogue Cafés will be opened in London, Florence, Tel Aviv, Rabat, Istanbul, Toronto, New York and Mexico City. By the end of 2012, we will have between 15 and 20 Dialogue Cafés open all around the world.
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    Who is Dialogue Café for?
    Dialogue Café is open to all people and organizations with a social, educational, cultural or environmental purpose. This includes foundations, civil society organizations, community groups, school and university students, social enterprises, public sector bodies and agencies.
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    What happens in a Dialogue Café?
    Dialogue Cafés facilitate a broad range of activities and events. The following examples illustrate the range and variety of activities that will be enabled by Dialogue Café as the network grows and develops around the world:
    • Young people in Istanbul, London and Toronto sharing stories about their heritage.
    • Women from Cairo, Doha and Amsterdam discussing the role of education and employment in empowering women.
    • Multi-city conferences and events on topics such as climate change, creativity and innovation, ageing and social exclusion connecting London, New York, Amsterdam, Florence, Doha and Ramallah.
    • Joint projects linking schools in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro, and Seoul and San Francisco.
    • Social entrepreneurs from Cairo, Tel Aviv and Toronto talking about potential commercial collaborations.
    • Simultaneous theatre workshops run in Rio de Janeiro, New York and San Francisco.
    • Concerts from Rio de Janeiro live to London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Florence and New York.
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    How can people get involved and use Dialogue Café?
    Users have to book the facility in advance. This is very easy - people should get in touch with their local Dialogue Café manager who can book a session and link up the Dialogue Cafés. So, all users have to do is turn up to their local Dialogue Café (e.g. Lisbon) and get their friends or colleagues to go to their local Dialogue Café (e.g. Rio de Janeiro).
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    Are there any themes or topics that people have to talk about?
    Dialogue Café users decide what they want to talk about and who they want to talk to. At the same time however, we’re developing a programme of activities for the first two Dialogue Cafés. We’ve invited schools, universities, musicians, artists, foundations and social projects to take part. There are guidelines for users and Dialogue Café managers to prevent abuse and/or inappropriate use of the Dialogue Cafés.
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    What technology do you use at Dialogue Cafe?
    Dialogue Cafés use a state of the art video conferencing technology, Cisco TelePresence, to link people through life-size high definition video and sound, allowing them to talk and meet, despite being located on different sides of the world.
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    Who is developing the Dialogue Café project?
    The Dialogue Café project is being led and developed by the Dialogue Café Association in partnership with the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Cisco, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Anna Lindh Foundation. The Alliance of Civilizations provides patronage and institutional support. Cisco was the founder and continues to provide technical support to the project. The Anna Lindh and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundations are initial funders.
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    Who provides connectivity?
    We are using global NRENs (National Research and Education Networks) to connect all the Dialogue Cafés. Access to networks such as GEANT, CLARA and NLR enables the Dialogue Cafés to be connected together. We are working with local service providers to get the local connectivity to each local NREN. In Portugal we are using FCCN, in Brazil we are connecting to RNP and we are also getting services (scheduling and conferencing) from NLR is the US.
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    How is the project funded?
    The Dialogue Café Association is grant funded and has been supported to date by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Anna Lindh Foundation. The individual cafes will be funded through a mixture of grants and subsidies from local businesses, local government and/or local foundations together with fees charged to the users of Dialogue Café.
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    What is the operational model behind the Dialogue Cafés?
    There is a global non-profit organization, the Dialogue Café Association, which is responsible for determining the overall strategy and direction of the project, developing new partnerships and overseeing the technology platform. The Association works with local partners, in each case, a partnership between business, city governments, and civil society organizations, who are responsible for managing the individual Dialogue Café on a day to day basis.
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    How do you select local partners?
    Partners need three things: a) a space (60-80m²) which is open, accessible and easy to get to; b) creative, entrepreneurial people to manage the Dialogue Café; c) links to networks who would be interested in taking part in and using Dialogue Café. We welcome expressions of interest and proposals from any group or organization that could provide one, two or all of the above.
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    What does it cost to set-up a Dialogue Café?
    Costs vary depending on location, particularly due to the range of bandwidth cost globally. These costs need to be assessed on a case by case basis.
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    How much will it cost to use Dialogue Café?
    In some cases, it will be free. In others cases, Dialogue Cafés will charge users. However, prices will be low and affordable; we are committed to ensuring that cost will not be a barrier to participation. Within guidelines set by the Dialogue Café Association, the local partners are able to decide how much to charge users. Costs will vary from Dialogue Café to Dialogue Café – but will be affordable for the audiences we are targeting. These fees will go to the local Dialogue Café (and not the Dialogue Café Association) to ensure the financial sustainability of the local Dialogue Café.
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    How do you measure success?
    The key measures of success are how fast the network of Dialogue Cafés expands, the usage of the Dialogue Cafés and the number and type of collaborations that the Dialogue Café network enables.
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    How are you capturing the discussions at Dialogue Cafés?
    Public events will be recorded and uploaded as podcasts onto the Dialogue Café website. We will also explore the use of various social media and other technologies to enable offline users to access the discussions as well.
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    Where can I find more information about Dialogue Cafe?
    For more information on Dialogue Cafe visit www.dialoguecafe.org

    You can also find us on:
    Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dialogue-Cafe/169904516376710
    Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcafe/
    Twitter at http://twitter.com/DialogueCafe

Contact us

If you want to take part in the conversation, or have any questions or queries, then you can also get in touch with us at info@dialoguecafe.org.