10 January 2009

Thinking about conversations

The next Gurteen Knowledge Cafe is about conversations and I have been doing some thinking on the subject ahead of the event. Much of this has been through an exchange of emails with Ray Shaw who is leading the debate at the Knowledge Cafe.

I have tried to capture some of these thoughts as pictures as this is how I like to do my consulting.

This categorisation of dialogues tries to show how conversations differ from other forms of dialogues which includes the extremes of preaching and interrogation. My conjecture is that two factors we need to consider is to what extent a participant in the dialogue has control of the exchange and to what extent the exchange of information is balanced between the participants.

This gives us the four extremes where one person is telling (preaching) or demanding (interrogating) and another person is the recipient, i.e. is being told or interrogated.

I've defined conversation as the square in the middle where there is equilibrium on both the control of the exchange and the direction of the change.

If we accept this definition of a conversation then the next thing to consider is the tools that we can use to make these conversations happen.

This diagram considers "tools" in terms of the degree of interactivity they allow (e.g. blogs allow some feedback via comments but this is limited) and in terms or the richness of content within the exchanges (e.g. Instant Messaging is just text).

I do not think that either of these models is complete and I am not sure yet whether they will prove to have any value, but I am sure that my thinking on conversations will get a boost at the Knowledge Cafe. I'll post an update then.

Update: You can now also read my blog posts on how the Cafe was run and what I learnt from it.

1 comment:

  1. Matthew - thanks for these models. They are a big help to my thinking about social spaces.
    What are the roles and skills to ensure that the rich conversation spaces work? Etienne Wenger suggests we need social artists. http://socialreporter.com/?p=474

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