Conversation

Tanja asks some interesting questions about “the conversation” of blogging in her comment on my post below.

Let me float a few things in this conversation about conversation. I think conversation has to be understood in at least three different ways in this context:

1. The intrapersonal conversation with the self that Wrede talks about that I have already referred to.

2. The direct conversation through comments and interaction from other readers.

3. The wider conversation of the blogsphere that each blog contributes to through the linking process

Seen together these three elements are something of what I mean by “distributed conversation” and “cumulative conversation”. The conversation of a blog is not isolated to a particular post or a particular thread of comments. I am not trying to say everything about “conversation and blogging” here. I am continuing what I have already begun in earlier posts as well as responding to some of Tanja’s questions.

Because I have conceived this as a research project that aims to gather together information on blogging as well as model its processes I also did something else before I wrote this post. I googled “conversation and blogging”. This led me to the “distributed conversation” about conversation and blogging in the wider blogsphere.

Here are some samples. Mark from the McLuhan project has this to say:

Blogs are an instance of “publicy” – the McLuhan reversal of “privacy” – that occurs under the intense acceleration of instantaneous communications. Our notion of privacy was created as an artifact of literacy – silent reading lead to private interpretation of ideas that lead to private thoughts that lead to privacy. Blogging is an “outering” of the private mind in a public way (that in turn leads to the multi-way participation that is again characteristic of multi-way instanteous communictions.) Unlike normal conversation that is essentially private but interactive, and unlike broadcast that is inherently not interactive but public, blogging is interactive, public and, of course, networked – that is to say, interconnected.

Another blogger re-posted this earlier post in the comments section of Joho the Blog

“Every writer is a reader, every reader a writer. Conversation; moving a coversation forward becomes the central point in blogging. Who happens to be speaking it – perhaps not as important.”

So here we are entering into different conversations. At one level we are connecting as individual writers and bloggers, at another level we are conversing/interacting (both as readers and writers) with broader discourse, such as the ideas of Marshall McLuhan.

I think from an educational perspective it is the dynamic, interactive, open-ended, searching and linking aspects of the conversation of blogging that make it a wonderful teaching and learning tool. It is in this sense that the conversation of blogging could take on some of the attributes that Tanja refers to in the quote from Theodore Zeldin. I believe that weblogs can contribute to the emergence of “new conversational banquets”.

Tanja also asks the interesting question about what this might mean specifically in a journalism education context. I will post on that later.

One thought on “Conversation

  1. Here’s my slant on Marcus’ way of viewing the dimensions of conversation …

    dynamic – perhaps where there is movement of ideas and development over time. And if one was to glimpse this progression, what would it look like?

    interactive – where there is a to-ing and fro-ing of sorts, and where the interchanges shape progression, perhaps. Are there aspects of the technology itself that are ‘interactive’, do you think? Actually that reminds me of Lucy Suchman’s reply in a recent issue of Journal of the Learning Sciences 12(2):

    Interaction … is not the stage on which the exchange of messages takes place, or the means through which intentionality and interpretation operationalize themselves. Rather, interaction is a name for the ongoing, contingent co-production of a shared social/material world. Interactivity as engaged participation with others cannot be stipulated in advance, but requires an autobiography, a presence, and a projected future. In this strong sense, I would argue, we have yet to realize the production of an interactive machine …

    What characterizes those new media are their unprecedented dynamics, based on their underlying computational mechanism. More than conversation at the interface, we need the creative elaboration of the particular dynamic capacities that these new media afford, and of the ways that through them humans and machines together can perform interesting new effects. These are avenues that have just begun to be explored, primarily in the fields of new media, graphics and animation, art and design. Not only do these experiements promise innovations in our thinking about machines, but they open up the equally exciting prospect of new conceptualizations of what it means to be human, understood not as a monadic, rational entity but as an unfolding, shifting biography of culturally specific experience and relations, inflected for each of us in uniquely particular ways.

    open-ended – so many different pathways to understanding in a learning context, and an individual’s own agenda drives the interaction (not predetermined, or scaffolded?) – so the environment enables an individual to generate knowledge itself, drawing from a cultural heritage?? (as contrast to being instructive, transmissive?)

    searching – this sounds like exploring and locating what is of value and worthwhile??

    linking aspects – I’m not sure whether there are hints of collective learning here – whether this aspect (and what occurs here) subsumes all the above ones …

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