Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Untidy Conversations

I regularly find myself in conversations initiated by reflections I have posted on my blog, kairos : kisses. These conversations take place face-to-face, over the phone, through skype, by email, in public comment threads or private messaging on facebook...but (almost) never anymore on my blog itself.

This is interesting to me. Essentially, most of the people who engage with kairos : kisses are not, themselves, bloggers (I can’t be sure how many people that is – I have just reinstated a visitor counter after having removed it for two years – but I am fairly confident this is the case). Over recent years, the options for responding have multiplied. And so what was, in the first few years I kept a blog, a series of contained conversations has become a series of conversations which take place in a multitude of settings – where a conversation that begins face-to-face is continued here, and carries on in some other context; where a conversation that begins here is responded to in an email, on facebook, in passing in person...

Conversation used to be more contained than is the case today. Which means that the person who initiates a conversation – in this case, me – has less control over what might happen than before. In truth, whenever we attempt to initiate a conversation, we make ourselves vulnerable, we choose to relinquish any claim to control: we run the risk of being dismissed, ignored; we run the risk – perhaps, the adventure – of the conversation being taken off at a tangent. Nonetheless, the nature of conversations between two or more persons is more mobile than it was, jumping from arena to arena – not in order to evade commitment (channel-surfing), but in order to enable the respondent to respond. And that requires a flexibility, a willingness to engage with people on their terms not my own, which is not only good for me but, in fact, an essential lesson to learn if we want to engage in conversation in our rapidly-changing digitally-networked world.

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