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Re: now online discourse

Thanks for a lot to think about.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bill Barowy" <xmcageek@comcast.net>
To: <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 10:15 AM
Subject: now online discourse

> On Tue Nov 16 2004 Mike Cole wrote:
> >Bill-- I went to the XMCA web page and looked for the note from Phil on
> >12 and could not find anything that contextualized this note for me.
> Here it is:
> On Friday 12 November 2004 9:08 am, Phil Chappell wrote:
> >bb
> >I'm about to make this a major project, especially as I'm about to hit
> > Sydney for a month. I'll report back on the audio side of this issue
when I
> > can. There's more to classroom discourse than IRF, and we need to work
> > ways of getting at it.
> [...]
> > Thanks again for opening up your work for this multidimensional
> > ensuing battles and all!
> Discourse in this medium is pretty slippery to catch hold of, and for one,
> subject headers offer very little by way of analysis.  I think Eva Ekeblad
> showed this well with her work, especially when we were trying to
> this sense of how conversations appear and dissipate.  What makes up a
> "conversation" on xmca -- beyond being a bounded-in-time topically-related
> set of exchanges --  is not straightforward to grasp.  What Eva Ekeblad
> persistently and painfully was to map some xmca exchanges to show their
> shared and related significations.  When one does that, there is a visual
> representation with which one is able to (loosely) declare the boundaries
> a "conversation".  The links in the map between messages are the shared
> significations -- the topical relations between messages.
> XMCA has a close analogy -- the quasi-free market economy, and one of the
> things I worked on a long time ago was characterizing the bursts of XMCA
> exchanges, which follow very similar patterns to those studied in
> and elsewhere.  It actually should not be surprising that they do.  On the
> one hand a low level of regulation here allows for rapid swings away from
> topics, yet on the other, it also allows for rapid follow-up.  So it's not
> critcism of XMCA, but statement that comes from some analysis.  It's a
> double-edged sword.
> We've all seen how rich conversations just seem to dissipate.  Why?  One
> i did with a complex systems analysis/simulation was make the plausible
> that finite and renewable resource -- time available -- was involved as a
> contributing element.  A small amount of time available for XMCA
> participation is renewed repetitively -- for some daily -- contributing to
> the display of the power law behavior  one sees with self-organized
> criticality in other complex systems.  Self-organized criticality -- 
> according to Per Bak -- relies upon the "renewal" or regular influx of a
> resource such as energy.  Here it is time (although when you push this
> physicist he'll argue the resource could be more fundamentally thought of
> energy).   Eva found things like Zipf law patterns (one type of power law)
> in the rank ordering of how often people post, and i found dynamic power
> patterns in the amount of exchanges over time.  These are the quantitative
> signatures of self-organized criticality. My analysis was fun to do,
> up some mathematics and analytical tools i had not used since doing
> but it lacked connection to qualitative analysis.  For one, I was counting
> messages when, in retrospect, I needed to be counting significations.
> so is a huge task and that's why my study has gone belly up.
> That's where Durkheim comes in.  His work on suicide was seminal in making
> connections between quantitative studies such as suicide rates and
> conditions. Anomie ( a - nomos, without law) here on XMCA is not the same
> the chaos attributed in other areas of study but instead provides a
> qualitative causal relation to the sudden appearance and dissipation of
> conversations.  It's another essential element and why we see swings in
> topics here, more so than on moderated lists.
> When I wrote "In this last exchange block, unable to
> adapt to the shifting field, the call for a critical cultural historical
> analysis, [Thursday 11 November 2004, 10:22 am and 11:24 am, Wolff-Michael
> Roth] the conversation just went belly up.  And it could not have
> adjusted.  Cultural historical analysis is a data-laden inquiry. " I was
> thinking, in part, of the time avaliable for participation on xmca.  Low
> regulation here on xmca allowed the introduction of a new significations,
> e.g. cultural historical analysis and inequality.  Low regulation is both
> plus and a minus.  It's why we suddenly have great spontaneous
> and why also they suddenly go away.
> In this case, at the personal unit of analysis,  since I am one of the
> material means through which the "cooking notes" conversation was being
> enacted, I did not have time for cultural historical analysis (which I do
> think is important, but not in the same way as Michael Roth) and i really
> wanted to focus on cooking the notes.  The new significations introduced
> Michael (e.g. cultural historical analysis and inequality) were then taken
> and  shared among other messages with other participants, however, and all
> had time left for was reading.  Back to the "conversation" unit of
> the "cooking notes" set of exchanges went belly up because it's
> significations were no longer shared -- it was x-jacked.  If a link map
> done of that period I think we would see the burst of new cluster of
> links/significations representing new conversations, only connecting to
> "cooking notes" set of exchanges at the respective beginnings and endings.
> Link to one of Eva's paper follows:
> http://hyperion.math.upatras.gr/commorg/ekeblad/multdyn.html
> Gotta finish -- I'm now in time-debt.
> --------
> bb