Been thinking about the post I wrote yesterday, and wanted to respond properly with a post rather than a comment.
Actually, with a question, I think, which is this:
Have you ever had your viewpoint transformed by online discourse?
Sure, we’ve all received information, and perhaps become informed by discussions. We may have actually changed our view because of a piece that we’ve read – in other words, we’ve found something someone has written transformative. I’ll take these as granted.
But my question is this: have you ever changed your view as a result of an online discourse, perhaps with another commenter on a post, or as part of some other online discussion? Because, honestly, I’m not sure I have. And I’m wondering if that’s just me, or something else.
Thinking back, my feeling is that entering into discourse online too often leads to entrenchment and subterfuge, dodging challenge, rather than acceptance of the view of the other and allowing that to have an impact. And I wonder if that’s a function of the stripped-down nature of virtual discussion: no sense of gesture, of facial expression, of nuance, of body language, of smell even… And these subtle things, once removed, leave the raw type of our comments too cold to be transformative. Yes, they can inform, but not – in a back and forth between two parties beginning with some opposition – transform.
Actually, I wonder if we have subconsciously all had a sense that this is true because my feeling is – and it would be interesting to see if people agree or not – that there is now less discourse on blogs etc than there was a few years ago. Sure, there has been more of a move onto Twitter and Facebook, but I’m not sure that that accounts for the diminution I’ve perceived. It may be, genuinely, that I’ve just had less traffic. But it may be that people have just become bored with online discourse, because it so rarely produces movement.
I think this is a pretty important thing to reflect on, especially as we see education – which is, if it is anything at all, about the interplaying processes of informing and transforming – is going to increasingly move towards MOOCs. Personally, I think it could lead to trouble… though this is pretty inevitable when the economics of market efficiency (huge ‘class’ sizes for each ‘teacher’) become applied to human interactions.
And thus, the ironic request: do leave any thoughts / agreements / disagreements in the comment box below 😉
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