Blog Civility? Collecting Thoughts for a SXSW Panel
Today I was mining blog and discussion board posts for resources to help inform my thinking on the panel some of us are doing next March at South by Southwest. First, I realized I had not taken the wraps off our planned work. So I wanted to do that today.
I also wanted to open my explorations to my blog readers -- and tap your mind and ideas. It seemed fitting to do it today with all the blog conversations about Mena & Ben's interaction at LesBlogs2. I need others' thoughts and experiences because I know I have my own patterns and biases.
Before the "what" I want to tell the story of how this came about. Last August a few of us starting talking about the tensions around US and THEM, both online and offline. There was one particular incident that followed BlogHer had me wondering about my avoidance of conflict, and the complicity implied if I did not speak up. The tone and content of another writer just had me in knots. Were my experiences or expectations realistic? Pollyannaish? Bill Anderson suggested we convene a telephone call - so we did. We both posted an invite on our blogs. We wrote "The primary task of this conversation is to explore the question "How can we reflect on our experiences (blogging, working and meeting in groups, ...) without falling into the familiar 'us / them' patterns?"
A nice handful of folks joined us (US and UK) and we continued to sporadically have calls through the fall (North American fall). Encouraged by the thoughtfulness of the conversations, Bill and I thought that this would make a juicy offering to SXSW, so we sent in a proposal. Once that was accepted, we found our great panelists. But let's get the content down -- I'm wandering, as usual!
Second, the what. Here is our blurb:
Us and Them: A blog conversation survival guide
The online experience of communicating with each other through blogs can sometimes feel more like a sparring match than a conversation. Even outside of the A-list blogs that use conflict as an attractor and entertainment factor, there are plenty of examples of blog comment streams that contain a good deal of invective as well as personal attacks. This isn't true of all blogs but it happens often enough that we wonder if we can find more ways to have conversations with each other with blogs, or if we should even expect this? This panel explores and questions our individual and collective behavior in blogs and blog comments.
Finally, the fantastic "who." It is going to be a grand adventure to do this project with Bill Anderson of Praxis 101, my co-conspirator in planning the panel, joined by Koan Bremner, Grace Davis and Tish Grier. (Yes, Bill, we have you outnumbered!) This configuration reflects 5 people who wade into all kinds of interesting online interactions with a range of views about how we interact with each other online. We are not without controversy. :-)
Over the next few months we'll continue our conversations with our other colleagues, tather ideas from blogs and really dig down to what we think about productive blog conversations. There is so much to think about -- what civility means, how we talk productively about the hard stuff, when throwing rocks might be a good ideas and that sense of creative abrasion. Oh, and the demonization of nice. Or the demonization of assholes. :-) Above all, I want to be clear: this is not about enforcing one set of norms or values, but finding out when and how to negotiate a path when we need and want to. The diversity of our world, online and off, makes a single practice not only unwanted, but impossible.
Some past posts related to this below, and if you want, you can track our bookmarks with the usthem and SXSWPanelPrep tags on del.icio.us.
Past Related Posts:
How it Happens Changes Us
Blogs, Forums, Us and Them
Community Indicators: Hello and Good Day
“Relationship is the primary connecting dimension of our system, however, understood not merely as a warm, protective envelope, but rather as a dynamic conjunction of forces and elements interacting toward a common purpose. The strength of our system lies in the ways we make explicit and then intensify the necessary conditions for relations and interaction.”
-Malaguzzi, Founder of The Reggio Emilia School
"If we can solve all these problems by laying out the flow of influence, the role of trust and conflict in discussions, magical things will happen to the marketplace of ideas."
- Mitch Ratcliff, Cloudmakers R Us
Categories: usthem, SXSWPanelPrep, civility, conflict