Summary of the Conversation about changes of conversation — Friday night

October 8, 2006

Ueli: understanding the etymology of the words, although we’ve been using discussion, conversation, dialog and interaction almost interchangeably. Asking Bev about what blogs do. (bev interrupts). Blogging allows a lot of interaction and a lot of spin-offs in a lot of directions. Wondering how these interactions become a socially constructed consensus that amounts to something. We need to connect with people who disagree, to cross ideological barriers. Realizing that there’s an interesting thing happening here: we are generating tools that allow interactions; I’m also wondering about tools that allow consensus building across ideological boundaries.

Derek: this has been a fascinating discussion.

Shawn: There have always been two drivers of social change: technology and economics. Looking out over the rooftops, I’m reminded that one of the technology drivers that has changed lives was the chimney. It changed cities from people huddling around one fire to people having multiple fires. Chimneys that go through multiple levels in one building enabled further change beyond that. Seeing a similarly profound level of change with new internet tools. I’m with Ueli: not certain about their use for personal reflection. I don’t use blogs to have conversations with other bloggers: I write ideas down so I can talk with people about them. Blogs have big idea generation possibilities. I dislike typing so I also hate discussion forums / web boards. Interested to see how conversation can be ramped up in other ways than what we’ve already done. I did a bit of research recently, that was published in a journal this year, about ACT-km. Based on a survey, the main finding was that there is a minute proportion of people who actually posted on the forum: about 10 out of 1,000. But what happens is that people have face-to-face conversations in their workplaces about things that have been said by a set of provocateurs on the list. So it’s like a 3 ring circus. Postings have an entertainment value. Makes me think about how people stimulate their own thinking.

John: My sense is that conversation is a constructed experience. We learn to construct it and we learn to experience it but it doesn’t exist objectively as such. When we have a new technology and new setting we have to renew the skill, the image and our accountability to a new form of interaction. In my experience, face-to-face conversations are not portable­–when we move to a new location, like from a chance meeting on the street to a table in a coffee shop, we have to start over. Similarly, on a new platform we have to reclaim or reinvent the conversation. It’s a new landscape and the new technologies bring up new techniques and new issues as well as new conversational possibilities. We can be close with someone in Australia – we can make friends with someone on the other side of the world, if they know English. A key element is a new set of straddling behaviors. For example, when we talk face-to-face we use a lot of tonal gestures to convey that there are different levels in our thinking that are necessary to say what we have to say. Blogs by themselves don’t stand, nor do email or forums. For the purpose of creating important conversations in communities of practice you always have to straddle to keep your balance. Follow up a phone conversation with a blog posting, with an email, with something else. The dock that’s “stable” is our existing technology base and we have the other foot on the new technology platforms.

Bev: I agree with what Shawn said about how he uses his blog to reflect and get his thoughts together. That’s a really important element of blogs. What’s important is shared understanding & reflection. I work to clarify my own thinking as I write for my blog. Facilitate the conversation because you have an idea about what you know or think about the other person. The conversation that takes place is much richer because you know the other person – because you’ve gotten to know the other person and possibly what they’ve thought about the topics. It helps in the conversations. Blogs help conversations. I’m reminded of the “salon’s de thé” in the 17th century France. Conversations were facilitated. The art of conversation became very important. That was. Now I want to go back and read more about that based on this conversation. Politicians didn’t like them. Places that you went to. A person’s tea house. It’s not helpful re whether it’s analogous to a blog or other technology. Because no conversations in my institution, I don’t identify in any way shape or form with my institution.

Patricia: topic of blogs is nebulous for me. Have had many of these conversations with John and Bev, but I’m still doubtful. I find it difficult in this conversation. Language is one barrier. (Perhaps we continue in German tomorrow?) In this blog discussion I see a question of trust. I need to know with whom I’m taking. That’ the opposite of the blogger’s attitude. Whoever is reading it is problematic. It’s too anonymous. Trust is missing. Can’t solve it right now. Want to get to the restaurant.

Marc: in this whole discussion. I think of cops as a unit of analysis. So we don’t look as a transfer of knowledge from one person to another. Cops are an extension of zone of proximal development. In this discussion I got completely lost. We need another unit of analysis. So we can talk about all kinds of discussion. Would like to ask Etienne about how he views this. Would like another unit of analysis to look at the way people talk to each other. Another way of looking at it. Not through the lens of “discussion, debate, dialog”. It’s much more complex than just looking at those alternatives. A discussion can become a socially constructed something.

John: discussion can turn into debate or dialog and then that turns into dinner.

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4 Responses to “Summary of the Conversation about changes of conversation — Friday night”

  1. Nancy White Says:

    Hey friends.

    I just have to share this. I’m sitting in Shawn Callahan’s house, he is on a plane from Sydney to Melbourne after leaving you. I just showed the flickr picture to his family (and we laughed and were a bit jealous). So look at that bit of straddling.

    I am also preparing for the workshops and presentations I’ll be doing here in Australia and have been jotting down snippets from your session notes that amplify the ideas and topics I’m planning. So in a way, I’m porting your conversational artefacts to yet another setting.

    The trust issue, Patricia, is very salient. I was talking a few weeks ago with John and Etienne about a different kind of trust I see in network systems, like blog networks, and I think there is a very strong informational trust. Not that I have to get to know you to trust you ,but I have to get to know what you write about and how you write about it to trust you. But it is a different sort of trust. Not so much about personal identity, but domain related identity. Does that make any sense?

    I shall be crediting all of you in my work here over the next 3.5 weeks!

  2. btrayner Says:

    There is something reassuring to know that the conversation continues with you now in Australia! You entered our conversations here in Florence, often.

    Domain related identity. Now that’s interesting!

    Have a great time and say hi to Shawn.

  3. Christina Says:

    About new layers of communication and blogging in particular:

    A friend told me the other day that he had decided to create a blog as he had realised that most participants of some management conference gave their blogs as a reference. So my friend who himself is a top manager felt like an outsider and somehow pressed to join the bloggers’ club.

    I’ve been wondering if we use new forms of interaction (technology) because

    a) we are supposed to do so and because we cannot afford to not be on the forefront of new trends;

    b) we would not understand the sociological processes in communities that are accompanied by the new forms of communication and thus unable to proceed in our own learning process;

    c) we want to share our ideas with the world and hope to get interesting inputs that help us to make progress?

    Perhaps you keep blogs out of completely different reasons? How does blogging stimulate your learning process? How and WHERE does the learning take place?


  4. […] Patricia Arnold: In this blog discussion I see a question of trust. I need to know with whom I’m taking. That’ the opposite of the blogger’s attitude. Whoever is reading it is problematic. It’s too anonymous. Trust is missing. […]


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