4 Disciplines for Online Discussions

In a recent exchange on the SIKM Leaders discussion board, Kate Pugh wrote a wonderful short piece on treating online discussions as "a team sport, where the goal is collective insight". You should read the whole piece, but this is my favourite part:

The four discussion disciplines are:

  1. Integrity (using your true voice and asking questions that are crisp and engaging)
  2. Courtesy (being respectful of differences in understanding and even language)
  3. Inclusion (being intentional about bringing in other voices, e.g., by calling in [e.g., using the @twitterhandle] to get them to help or to benefit)
  4. Translation (creating a decisive view of the series of posts. Summarize "where have we been, and what does it amount to?" I can't overstate the importance of this. We all hate joining discussions where there are no "mile markers" and we feel like outsiders.

[One person should] take on the role of "lead" (that might be the person trying to solve a problem) [with] a few others responsible for monitoring the four disciplines ... The skill of translation or integration is critical, and many of us don't see it as our responsibility when we engage others [online].

For people new to open / social forums, I suspect that (3), in particular, is a foreign concept that needs to be learned. It's a great summary of the dynamics of online engagement and one that we would do well to bear in mind more often.

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