conversations at northern voice

conversations are at the heart of my practice. conversations are what i was hoping for when i first started this blog. conversations was one of the topics at this year’s northern voice blogging conference – i facilitated a little presentation about it at moosecamp (the first day’s unconference) in connection with the vancouver bloggers meetup.

what are the ingredients of a good conversation, online or offline? one of them, we decided, is transparency. that means there should be as few walls as possible between the conversation partners so that they have a clear view of each other. sometimes, blogging anonymously reduces this transparency (i don’t know who you are in “meatspace” – in the physical world). but there is much more to transparency. letting the other know what’s going on in our lives creates transparency, as does honesty, and letting others participate in our thought processes.

another interesting thing that came up in our discussion was that conversations create knowledge about each other but also about ourselves. even for bloggers who don’t have many readers or comments, as they are writing, they have a conversation with themselves.

pix zak geant human sculpture at moosecampand are conversations just with words? for example, zak geant, one of the 200 or so attendees and presenters, created a series of photographs where he had conference participants physically represent where they are on a number of continua in the blogging world – for example, how many years they had been blogging, how many posts they posted a month, etc. participating in this human sculpture felt like a sort of conversation to me. here you can see us “graph” where we stand in terms of how zen-like (“shakeresque”, zak called it) or busy (baroque) our blogs are in appearance.

nancy white’s two wonderful presentations felt like conversations in and of themselves. her laid-back, very transparent and interactive approach to facilitation almost made me forget the theatre-style classroom environment, an environment made for old-style teaching (the teacher in the front as expert transmits knowledge to the students who are all focused on the one teacher-point).

her presentation, holding paradox in the palm of your hand, brought up the topic of questions, something that always interests me. there, questions were seen as inviting, particularly when they are specific.

in my experience, questions can be seen either as opening the door to more conversation, or as some sort of hole in the dam of knowledge that then needs to be plugged with a quick answer. and then there are people who have had bed bad [<-- freudian slip???] experiences with questions and see them as demanding or even as interrogations. i'll be talking a lot more about conversations in the weeks to come. in the meantime, here's a ... well, a question: what do you think makes a good conversation?

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