Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A side note on the virtual discussion over the last week...

Folks, I wanted to mention that I think the weblog discussion has been unfolding wonderfully, and I'm pleased that during my unfortunate absence you were able to wrestle with the readings so well. (I'm also a bit worried that I might be setting the stage for my own technological replacement.) So I have a few questions that relate nicely to the themes of the class:

(1) What differences do you see between your online dicussions and our offline (in class) discussions? For example, I'm noticing that certain people are doing a lot of posting and replying; does it seem like these are the same people speaking up verbally in class? I'm also noticing a lot of willingness to talk after the fact online about things we didn't talk about face-to-face, such as race -- a difficult topic to talk about in America today, for lots of different reasons and for lots of different social groups. In which ways is online conversation working better than offline, and in what ways is it less effective?

(2) Do you feel that you've gotten a better, deeper, more accurate, more positive, or more twisted view of your classmates through watching their postings and comments unfold on the weblog? Can you put names to faces? Are we becoming more of a "community" through our weblog discussions, or are people reading each post as an individual statement and not really getting a picture of the posting person over time?

Comment away.


  1. I wish we had discussed those topics 'live'. I'm puzzled about gender topic so I would have liked a 'real discussion' in wich I could have 'listened' responses and feedback trying to clarify the issue to myself.
    I'm not a big fan of forums. They are just different from a conversation or a live discussion. First, they don't have presence (here and now), and that enables participants to get a full communication (tone, body language, and other stuff). Lack of presence also take away the quickness of the discussion. In addition the written form obstruct participants to shorter intervents that are more dense, but less immediate. I just feel that is more difficult to discuss in a written form. Maybe chat would be better. I just think that face-to-face communication fits better to discussion helping in unfolding better the issues on the table. And, yes, it was difficult to identify other classmates.

  2. First, I obviously post and comment more online than I speak in class...it is much easier for me. Although, last class I spoke repeatedly for a long time about personal things--that was strange for me! Anyway, it is easier for me to comment online because I can take longer to respond without missing the chance. Also, I seem to be afraid to use my actual voice as opposed to being afraid of my opinions or what people will think...so, it is much less scary to respond online. I still like group discussions better in person though, even though it is more difficult for me to join in.

    As for knowing who people are,and views of classmates-- I think about who writes posts when I read them. It took me a while to figure out which Rachel was which...and who Stepmo was...but I did figure them out. Still, my idea of people seems somewhat disconnected from the "actual" people in class. That might be because I have a hard time reading tone online. It does seem like Eric's post come off exactly as he does in class so I can hear it in his voice...I can't do that as much with other people's (somewhat with Melanie and Kelly--maybe because they talk more in class?!?) Well, I am going to stop writing...this is really long.

  3. I find there's only some differences between our online and offline discussions. Some people hardly ever post any new threads but are content to just make good comments on others'. A long time I've been fascinated by what a little bit of anonymity and distance can do to courage. Even historically, we had the "Dear John" letter or telegraph sent with bad news, or the angry phone message when you don't want to confront someone. Maybe we need that space sometimes, and technology provides.

    Are we becoming more of a community thru our weblog? It gives me a chance to slow down and hear what everyone is thinking and wondering, rather than the short class time we have. But I do find myself wondering about those who don't post (or speak) more often. I'd like to hear them more offline and online. Because, I know what I think. (I'm investing a lot of time and money for school so I speak up and take advantage of it.) But it's very meaningless without colleagues in the mix. I can hear the classmate's voice in their post, which is nice, and can take more time to consider what they've said. Yet, class discussions are better for knitting together the threads of ideas, while offline is more effective for sifting through the bits.