Well, the thread on "lurkers" was certainly hot for all concerned!
Now that it's died down, perhaps there is some learning we can harvest.
I'll try to do so in brief comments here, and anyone else is welcome to
Be warned however, that I prefer that we not talk any further about
whether "readers who don't post" are welcome here... They are definitely
In building a learning community joined by this marvelous technology, we
need to be aware of the attributes of text-only messaging. To really be a
learning community, we need to surmount the limitations of our medium,
both individually and collectively.
The attributes of our medium that I'm noticing are:
- delay (24 hours turnaround here plus time till you check mail)
- text-only (no body language, cues from intonation, or gestures)
- no context (we know each other only from our msgs, don't see the rest
of each others' lives, what each other are up against)
- this discussion is moderated (by me), unlike many internet facilities
- orientation and professional experience of LO participants
I understand there is good research that most of typical communication is
non-verbal. Here on the net we miss all the non-verbals, and miss the
context cues, so we need to be aware of the impacts. Typically, flames
start and grow more readily in electronic messaging than in face-to-face.
Many people question whether real community can occur in groups connected
only by electronic messaging. Our attempt to connect and build a very wide
learning community via Learning-org is leading edge.
Here on the LO list, we all know enough about good communications to know
that words will be interpreted by the reader, that the conclusion may be
different from what the author intended, and that sometimes there will be
a strong reaction.
For the record, as moderator, I do decline proposed messages that I think
might creates "flames," but the number of messages I decline is very
small. I feel the LO community has skills and takes responsibilty to avoid
escalation of misunderstanding and anger.
Even so, when the issue is hot for us, the talk can become hot and less
learningful. Keith expressed his feelings of "violation" and some
felt offense in Keith's various msgs.
What conversational practices would be effective in these situations?
What practices would help us deal with the limitations of our medium?
What practices would flourish in this medium? How about in other settings?
Some time ago, Mike McMaster wrote about a protocol for keeping
>... called "radial speaking" and
>refers to the idea that you are speaking only for yourself with no
>intervening interpretation nor depersonalisation.
>The elements are:
> - When x occurs (where x is a sensory report)
> - I think y (which is my interpretation)
> - When I think y, I feel z (which is a report on my reaction to
> my interpretation)
> - And then I do (or want to do) v in response.
>The point of such a communication structure is that it is fully
>self-responsible and covers a fully human communication - external
>event, interpretation, internal response and motivation for action.
A close relative is "precise checking" recommended, as I understand it, by
Collaborative Action Associates whose principals studied with Chris
Argyris. That protocol goes something like this:
- When you do (or say) x
- I think y (and feel z)
- And then I do (or want to do) v in response
- Is that what you intended?
My apologies if I don't have this quite right, and more informed readers
are welcome to chime in.
When these protocols are used, more is said than in typical conversations,
and it's said more honesty and more directly. The things we think but
don't say include a lot of toxic material; this is a way of processing it
to make it less dangerous. The alternatives are dumping it or keeping it
inside, both of which have unhealthy consequences for the relationship.
I propose we try make explicit our notions of effective conversational
practice in this electronic medium. Practices that will contribute to
creating a learning community. And, that we actually DO practice them here
in addition to talking about them.
Keith says "My day job gives enough to do but L-O feeds my mind" -- what
practices will help feed all our minds so that we are more effective in
our day jobs?
What, in your view, would contribute to effective conversational practice
in this medium? Or, in conventional settings?
On 19 Jul 1996, Keith Cowan wrote:
> I just wanted to share my feelings of violation as a result of the
> "lurker" scenerio.
> What I found most repulsive were the private reactions
> from some lurkers who felt it was OK to condemn me in eMail without
> "seeking to understand and then be understood" according to the teachings
> of Steven Covey.
[Keith, in this and other msgs says he didn't intend to attack "lurkers"
and feels his initial msg was misunderstood.]
> (PPS My day job gives enough to do but L-O feeds my mind)
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