Monday, March 20, 2006

Are We Having a Conversation Yet? An Art Form Evolves - New York Times

Are We Having a Conversation Yet? An Art Form Evolves - New York Times: "O.K. But listen to 'talk' radio, with its combative recruitment of allies; or 'talk' shows in which guests are promoting themselves or their products and hosts are prepared with leading questions; or 'talk' news shows in which conversation becomes a form of shouting. Look at our isolating iPods, at text messaging with its prepackaged formulas, or instant messaging with its iconic smilies, so necessary to make sure the telegraphic prose is not misunderstood.

This state of affairs helped inspire Stephen Miller's new book, 'Conversation: A History of a Declining Art' (Yale, $27.50). Mr. Miller, who is a contributing editor to The Wilson Quarterly, finds countertrends, as well — Internet communities that lead to new forms of conversation, diverse gatherings in which disagreements become an expected aspect of conversation. But, he writes, the 'forces sapping conversation seem stronger than the forces nourishing it.' So Mr. Miller, in response, is recounting another kind of conversation that has taken place over the centuries, one whose subject is conversation itself."

All right! It looks like BFD and MTB are off to a good start as "countertrends," those necessary adjustments civilization makes to bring itself back into balance.

In the business of building or re-building community, isn't open dialogue the foundation?

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