Thursday, August 14, 2008

more on inverting the pattern

I've been thinking a bit more about inverting the pattern, moving from a blog-like pattern of lots of talking and not much listening to something with more listening and less talk, or at least more meaningful listening.

Broadcast media is not the answer. A radio or TV station is basically the same thing as a blog, still a monologue where the speaker is hoping listeners will tune in. There might be more listening, but only because there are fewer speakers.

If you look at the pattern of a typical conversation, it's a group of people with only one person talking at a time. It happens that way because if two people try to talk at once, they interfere with each other. And it's usually considered bad form for one person to monopolize the conversation. With blogs, though, there's really no limit to the number of people who can talk at once, so there's a lot more talking. But with all the talk, who has time to listen and evaluate?

So what would it mean to bring a conversation-like pattern into the Internet? One example might be Internet Relay Chat: when one person types, everyone on the channel sees it. Another example, which I like even better because it moves a little more slowly, allowing the opportunity for greater depth, is a computer bulletin board. The modern version would be a web forum. Unlike blogs, where the blog's author holds most of the conversational power, the participants in bulletin board systems or forums [1] all have roughly equal power, so there's more room for the give-and-take that makes for conversation.

[1] Apologies to the classics purists, but I just can't bring myself to write "fora".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

inverting the pattern

Blogs are all about talking, but they're rarely about conversing. They're more like monologues within earshot of one-another, and sometimes another person will tune in and change their own monologue in response. Twitter's basically the same thing, which isn't too surprising since it's really a form of blogging.

I wonder, though, if there's a way to invert the pattern. Instead of everyone talking and hoping someone listens, is there a way you could reverse it so there's much more listening going on than talking? What would such a thing look like? And would people use it?