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Conversation in the wild

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 26 September 2011

 


Title

Conversation in the wild
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 135
Posted DateMonday 26 September 2011 10:26 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
Linkshttp://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/services-kcafe ... 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversation ... 
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conversation ... 
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/conver ... 
CategoriesConversation; Dialogue

In my knowledge cafes and workshops, a frequent question asked is "what is a conversation". Surprisingly, people cannot agree. Many think an exchange of emails, even SMS messages can be classed as conversations. I disagree.

Browsing the dictionary definitions on the web, conversation clearly involves talking. It is an oral, spoken activity, not a written one

Here is a definition from the Merrian-Webster dictionary: "an oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas"

And another from the Macmillan dictionary: "an informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy"

The key words here are oral, exchange and informal.

So you can have a conversation, face to face, on the phone or via a video link. Anything else such as email, a written letter, or an exchange of IM or SMS messages are not conversations.

I would also add that conversation is highly interactive and takes place in real time - so an exchange of voice messages is also not a conversation.

To my mind, the best conversations are face to face, you need to be able to sense other people in their totality; their dress, their body language, their habits, their perfume or cologne; you need to be able to reach out and touch them even. This you cannot do over the phone or even a video link.

If you want a real human experience it must be literally face to face; body to body. That's the way conversation evolved, long before writing technology, its what us human beings are good at

It's conversation as it exists in the wild.




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11:36 AM GMT