One of the practices that is part of my daily routine in communities and teams which use phone calls for meetings, is to take notes in a chat environment. I am really good at capturing notes so I’m often one of the note takers. I find typing increases my attentiveness and listening. Otherwise I’m prone to multitasking (email, checking twitter, writing blog posts. Should I admit I started writing this post while on a telecon?)
What I’ve noticed is that I’ve started to use the chat as back channel for voicing my own input and thoughts. This is more like the “backchannel” used by techie communities, particularly during face to face events. It is another layer of conversation that enables more than one person to “talk” at the same time. It is also useful in web meetings. Back channel, of course, has it’s risks too — fractured attention and a channel for mocking etc — but it is different from the note taking practice. One is a record, the other is part of the conversation. One represents the voices of others, the other IS the voices.
When I mix the two, I start wondering, am I compromising the note taking with my comments and input? Or am I adding richness and voice to the proceedings? Am I strengthening the conversation by adding text input and not interrupting, or am I undermining the speaker? All these are possible. So how does this inform my choices in my practice?
This duality reminds me of this “two hatted” feeling I get when I am in a facilitator role. I often feel I am not fully devoting myself to facilitation if I put my participant hat on. When I do, I do it explicitly. I am wondering, should I do that when I shift in chat, or does that just add more noise to a fast flowing chat?
What do you think?
Photo by Salvor