Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Listening Experience

How big should community be? It seems to me that those "communities" that people feel are real communities are those that attract the most people. But are lots of people neccessary? Or should we encourage a small group that is listenable?

A group should be no larger than a number that can be listened to and heard! The best group size depends upon where the community is going. But size has an effect upon the results. Three to five is good for some things while seven to ten may be better for others. I think a small group could be large and listenable at twenty members if they are fully trained in all basic ordinal forms.

Traditional communities like Rotary International have over 1 million members worldwide yet they meet once or twice a month in small local groups of 10 to 20 members. They have 32,000 clubs that are unified in purpose through a constitution.The clubs are divided according to geographical limitations. The advantage to the small group is not that thousands of voices can be heard but that the mebers can have a better listening experience. The Internet does not suffer from information overload but people overload!

So imagine one community that is divided so that there are only a listenable number of members in each group. If this plan were to be transposed to the Internet, where would the natural divisions and unities exist?

Listening Roles
I think it's important to ask questions to verify whether our assumptions about people based on their posts are true. Reacting to what someone says without knowing what they mean may breed and feed all kinds of emotional baggage. Is this what we want in a discussion on facilitation? For example: I think I should have asked questions instead of backing off when the language got unpleasant for me to verify what the other person had in mind when using what I considered bad language. Perhaps, it was the person's normal way of talking. I should have verified things before coming to any conclusions
I'm learning...

This is a good reason for people to regularly perform listening roles, so that understanding can be assessed and verified. Such listening roles such as Role Reversal in dialogue or debate, taking turns in each project. I envision a project in Concessions, learning to see what is right about an opposing argument.

A Listener's Club might aim to promote these rights and responsibilities in each practiced project:

The right to speak.
The responsibility to respond.
The right to hear others speak.
The responsibility to listen.

The discussion form serves as a model for a group. We begin practicing for community and grow a community up with the building blocks of the discussion form itself.

Next: Learning Ordinal Forms

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The ordinal discussion arts lead us into coherent group building and groups become the building blocks of communities.

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