Tapping The Hidden Value of NCDD listserv discussions for In-depth Online Conversations  Email color Twitter Linkedin Facebook
Published by JohnEley almost 4 years ago in Dialogue and Facilitation.
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Explore new ways to move the NCDD listserv discussions to a deeper level.

Why I am Drawn to This
As a frequent user of the NCDD discussions, which are accomplished by asynchronous exchange of emails, I have frequently found it difficult to follow all the various streams of content over several emails. I think that this is due in part to the fact that the posts are frequently vehicles for addressing several topics associated with a general subject. Frequently I am interested in only a few of the topics addressed in the various posts and I often face the somewhat formidable task of locating content on these topics by reading through many long and broad posts, addressing several discrete topics. Since most of the posts do not offer topical tags that would facilitate search for specific topics, it is often very difficult for me to follow the topic flow across the full set of posts on a general subject under discussion. Under the assumption that other members of the NCDD community might be having similar experiences, I wondered if we could do better as a community using a supplemental tool that would make it easier to concentrate on specific topics in the flow of discussion on a general subject such as the one raised by Jacob Hess, when he initiated the discussion on the value of dialogue in the context of the controversy of the mandatory use of vaccinations.

So my operative questions became...
• Would it be possible to extract topic specific content from these discussions and to recast it in a way that both retains the integrity of that content as originally presented and provides insights into the specific topics embedded in that discussion?”
• It is feasible to supplement the rich and stimulating discussions offered the community via the NCDD sponsored listserv discussions with more discrete topic by topic conversations grounded in the context of the general subjects around which the discussion centers?
• Would such a process and the resulting topic specific conversations be of value in the D&D community?

I sought answers to my question in three steps, using the listserv discussions on dialoguing about vaccines
and promoting the use of D&D processes as my points of reference.

Step 1: Analyzing the Conversations
In the first step I read each discussion as it had developed and identified separate and discrete topics using simple analytical tools associated with dividing complex subjects into its discrete components, which is stock and trade of critical thinking and analysis.

In the vaccine discussion several participants engaged in a stimulating discussion on the set of issues associated with the use of vaccinations for the
protection the health of dependent children and public health in general.
Within these subjects several discrete topics emerged including the role of science in public health issues, the requirements for effective dialogue on the uses of vaccine, the role that truth should play in discussions and the balancing of interests of individuals and the general society.

In the use of D&D tools discussion participants confronted several difficult issues associated with increasing levels of motivation to employ these tools. This discussion dealt with such separate topics as how to entice persons with different values to engage in conversations with each other, limitations on the ability of D&D tools to revitalize our democratic system, the potential value of Wisdom Councils and the possibility that we need to restructure our political system before D&D methods can be effective.

Step 2: Mind Mapping
In the second step I used MindJet’s mapping software to construct a two separate maps of these discussions highlighting the several discrete topics This step involved reducing the lengthy statements, via paraphrasing, on each topic to short and succinct statements that capture the essentials of the original comments.
My goal here was to be faithful to the original content of each participant and to do so by producing statements that the original authors would recognize as reasonable paraphrases of their content in the context of the purposes of the effort.

This approach provided a means for presenting content on specific topics but it lacked the conversational tone that made the original listserv content interesting, provocative and representative of conversation in a community of practice in dialogue and deliberation. This generated the need for an online tool that would facilitate the development of the new material in a conversational form that echoes that of the NCDD listserv discussion. This required the development and/or use of a method that would enable me to construct sub-dialogues, to use a term borrowed from van Eemeren et al.

Step 3: QiqoChat Conversation
In my third step, I turned to QiqoChat which offers opportunities for several people to engage in either synchronous or asynchronous conversations using a question and response mode. Need link here. Lucas Coiffi the creator of Qiqo is an active participant in NCDD listserv discussions and he recognized the potential value of this approach in meeting the need that I identified. With his cooperation and support I have reconstructed two listserv discussions. These are offered to the NCDD community as illustrations of the power of the platform as a generator of quality conversations on specific topics introduced to participant as topics for discrete topical discussions and

I believe that I can now answer the first two of my three questions in the affirmative. It is possible to extract specific content from NCDD listserv discussion and recast it is topic specific content that retains the integrity of the original content and provides insights into these topics. There is a feasible method that will allow this new content to supplement the listserv discussion. Now all that remains is to address the question of the potential value of this approach to the NCDD community. I hope that others can weigh in on this important question. All comments are welcome so I would appreciate anyone who takes the time to comment.
John Eley

Q Spacer       We believe that groups, organizations, and communities thrive when their members build relationships by sharing knowledge.

Lucas Cioffi is the founder of QiqoChat. He is an Iraq War veteran turned software developer. While serving for three years on the board of a national non-profit with 1700 members, he saw the potential for new tools to make sharing organizational knowledge more fun and efficient.

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