Frances Bell

home at last – for all the mes


Missed Conversations – in more ways than one #OER17

This evening I participated in a Missed Conversation via VConnecting session that followed up on a #TowardsOpenness workshop at #OER17.  It’s lovely that OER17 continues to ripple on nearly a week after it finished.

This was a missed conversation for me in more ways than one. Although I attended OER17 in person, I had missed the original workshop as I was part of a panel running in parallel. And then I missed the first 12 minutes of the Google Hangout as I had connection problems but I am so glad I got there eventually as it was a lovely session.  It was great to hear what participants had to say but I also loved the chat stream that was a missed conversation for people watching the video. I have just watched the video  and I am missing the first 12 minutes of the chat stream from there 🙂

When I eventually joined the Google Hangout, and was invited to introduce myself,  I explained that I am an Itinerant Scholar, having retired from Higher Education in 2013.

Here’s what I said as my introduction:

In preparation for this event, I read the abstract, blog posts and viewed the video provocations. I reflected on the process model

Towards Openness Framework

Towards Openness Framework

especially “Create and share a realistic or fantasy intervention/ prototype/ tool / process”.

My personal motivation, based on me tending to talk too much, was to participate differently in inclusive conversation. As well as changing my actions, I am imagining a counter to algorithmic shaping of conversation online.

First I thought of a human algorithm (or even humane algorithm). I like the human bit but think we can do better than fixedness of algorithm.

So this was my attempt to re-create the workshop activity and I came up with some heuristics, rules of thumb that I see as a concept, a broad guide, a space of adaptation and action.

I had started to think about these heuristics when participating in #tjc15 organised by the lovely Laura Gogia. The hashtag twitter conversation was busy and fast flowing so I tried to think of what I could do to have a meaningful participation.

In the Missing Conversations hangout, I concentrated on listening to the speakers and participating in the chat, both of which channels were very interesting, though those viewing the video, live or as a recording, couldn’t see the chat. Privacy, surveillance and sacrifice of personal data in return for ‘free access’ were all explored, and it’s worth watching the video, if you missed the session.

I find it difficult to separate the spoken contributions from the chat room, and in a way that is an example of the differential experiences that platforms such as Google Hangout can engender. Kate Green explained beautifully at 25.30 into the Hangout that she had to change her browser and cookie permissions so that participating in the workshop compromised her privacy strategies. This chimed with Chris Gilliard’s contributions (video and spoken) regarding the implications of surveillance capitalism.

Towards the end of the Hangout, I shared my heuristics for participating in a one hour synchronous conversation online, which are:

I will:

  1. LISTEN – I minimise my speaking, and maximise my listening.
  2. PREPARE – I research in advance and note THREE points that I might make/respond to.
  3. WAIT – I make ONE of these points as a statement, being prepared to bring in the others in response, if relevant, within the flow of the conversation.
  4. REFLECT – I reflect and report back via a blog post/ Twitter comments.

I don’t really think that these heuristics are sufficient to counter algorithmic and functional shaping of conversational streams in social media but they are my human shaping. Of course, we can also resist in other ways.

This was a great experience – thank you all.

#tjc15#TowardsOpennessagencymissed conversationsopensocial mediasurveillance capitalism

francesbell • April 12, 2017

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  1. Maha Bali April 13, 2017 - 9:29 am Reply

    It was awesome to have you join, Frances and a reminder to me (always) that I talk too much 🙂 Still working on that.
    I often tried to ask folks who said stuff in text chat to say it aloud because folks watching couldn’t see that. I thought you knew, but maybe it wasn’t clear? Some ppl are more comfortable w the text chat overall even (or because of?) knowing it won’t be broadcast. Lots of great stuff happens off the air as well which enables a richer live conversation. Some of the things we learn with the frequency of doing vconnecting… Thanks again for being there xo

    • francesbell April 13, 2017 - 10:00 am Reply

      I don’t know how easy it is to pronounce on whether or not another person talks too much. As a teacher, I was always aware of how much I spoke and how much different students spoke in class, mainly because I wanted to facilitate contributions from reluctant participants, without coercing them. I had to learn to love pauses and occasional silences because my natural tendency was to plug the gaps.
      I love the text chat and did know/suspect it wasn’t visible to video-only participants. There is something fascinating about the voice conversations among the few and the text chat conversations among the many that we see in webinars, VConnecting and many uses of synchronous spaces. I wonder if anyone has researched this.
      A point that i would make about missed conversations is that they are inevitable, and in some ways that is a good thing – we can’t do/read/hear/say everything. I have tried my little mantra at #tjc15, last night’s hangout and on other occasions but I am not sure how successful I am at developing as an active listener . On #tjc15, I found removing the need to post improved my listening/reading of tweets and I could respond in a more engaged way. In that case, it was my way of dealing with the stress that accompanied the fast-flowing stream of messages.
      What was very useful for me yesterday was to view the video provocations, and do my own little workshop activity even though I had missed the workshop.

  2. Late first thoughts: #TowardsOpenness at #OER17 – Christian Friedrich
  3. Towards Openness at OER17 – Kate Green

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