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Re: [xmca] Friesen Article: question on kinds of talk analysis

That caught my eye too. Mike says somewhere...on a different thread, actually...something to the effect that when a person talks to a machine, or rather, as I like to say, pretends to be talking to a machine pretending to be a person, there is actual communication going on, because the people who built the machine are using the machine to communicate with the person who is pretending to talk to a machine pretending to be a person. 
That's true, but it's not dialogic communication. When you pick up a message in a bottle on a beach, both the message and the bottle communicate something. But that thing is not the same thing. There is a very big difference between communicating with a person writing a message who knows you have a mind and assumes that you too want to comunicate with him or her and producing a bottle and printing a label for entirely different purposes. 
It's not just that exchanging commodities is a fundamentally different human activity from exchanging information. It presupposes a very different (and higher) theory of mind. It presupposes empathy. 
Most "discourse analysis" is really not discourse analysis at all. It's the analysis of TEXTS, the recordings made of live discourse. This is really a little like analyzing a message in a bottle by looking at the bottle. 
Real discourse analysis has to start out from the point of view that texts do not communicate; people do. Conversation analysis, for all its phonological fetishism and its ethnomethodological pretensions, is a definite step in the right direction. 
But conversation analysis imagines that you can analyze a stretch of conversation without ANY outside science, that the decoding procedures are ALL available in the interaction itself to the participants themselves. I think Marxists know better; we know that a lot of the most important social relations in an interaction are hidden to even the most penetrating scientific eyes. 
For example! The problem with Friesen's article is that it really doesn't come to grips with the ultimate AIM of phone trees, chatbots, and similar. Given the lay of the social environment, I think that the ultimate aim can ONLY be (like Obama's plans for "health care reform") the further hollowing out of the middle class. The idea is that somewhere, somehow, the use of "labor saving" technologies will lead to lower costs and not just higher unemployment. We've been down THAT road before.
Accept no substitutes for human empathy: see if your phone tree/chatbot will recognize a belch. 
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education 

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