Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On the Nature of Dialogues, Ideas, and Video Games

Here is another one of my test posts from FWD:Everyone - Dialogue On Art & Video Games. As you can probably tell if you read this post and the last one I am not using this platform in the way it was intended. The idea of FWD - as it was presented to me - was that people are having amazing conversations through email that are lost to the world because email is private (relatively speaking). The man I was talking to then compared this to historic letters that have gotten published.

I understand the logic here ... but I rarely see email used in this way. In my social and work circles email is a very utilitarian method of communication. It is to share information or files that are pertinent to a particular class/job/etc. Alternatively, when I have something of interest I want to discuss I may use email to arrange a coffee or beer over which I can discuss issues of importance. I do, however, often have fascinating conversations of varies real-time communication platforms - as you can see from the 2 posts I made over at FWD. This behavioral pattern suggests a couple of observations about personal communication and idea generation.

First, real-time communication is preferable for interesting dialogues. This isn't to say that compelling dialogues have to be in real-time - as is shown by historic letters, academic publications, art, etc. - but each of these examples also have unique circumstantial reasons for working that email simply does not posses. Letters in the time before computers (or even widespread use of telephones) were the only option people had for communication across vast distances. As for the other examples, these are forms of communication created for public consumption (or at the very least a certain demographic within the public) and therefore are produced accordingly. These pieces are a part of a very real, albeit metaphysical, dialogue, however this is not the same as the interpersonal dialogues people have with acquaintances.

Furthermore, these types of public communications are usually thought out and polished before hand. This is unlike real-time communication during which rough ideas can be worked out through the give and take of multiple minds. This also allows for a spontaneity - which has the possibility of generating news ideas and refining old ones - that is simply not possible in a piece that will be proofread before it is put forward.

Now none of this is meant to discourage the people over at FWD. How technologies are designed to be used and how they are actually used are not one and the same. I personally see more use in a platform that allows for the publication of text and chat interactions and have been using FWD accordingly. Of course there are ethical implications to this idea - currently accounted for in FWD posts by requiring approval by all addressees in any given email thread - but certainly these concerns could be similarly addressed in any expansion of the platform. (For the moment, since this is in beta testing still, we'll ignore the fact that I have unintentionally bypassed FWD's built in privacy assurances. To make up for this, however, I personally informed the involved people and anonymized the conversations.)

All that being said - I wouldn't mind setting up a semi-private FWD blog that would be visible only to the students of any given class. My idea here is to potentially reduce the amount of emails I would have to reply to ... then again, if they can't be bothered to read the syllabus, will they read the FAQ blog I create?

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