INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Conversations, Context, and Power

Good conversation going on at blogtank. Elaine has some compelling ideas for using libraries for bringing the joys-of-self-discovery and the promise-of-self-expansion through blogging to children on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Marek has brought up the pregnant subject of "recontextualization" and cited Fernando Flores as his primary inspiration in this area. He directs us to a highly interesting related article.

Flores is a powerful and impressive guy. I know, because I had some minor exposure to him back in the early 80's when he was here in the SF Bay Area. I did some freelance moonlighting for a firm that he was trying to get off the ground (Hermenet, Inc.--whose aim was to utilize the new technology of personal computing as a tool for transforming the context of the workplace).

However, he ran headfirst into the severe recessionary forces of the time (much worse than the current ones, BTW). Interestingly, his prodigious powers of communication were no match for the macroeconomic currents (Is there a lesson there? I don't know). The whole thing imploded into a mess of lawsuits and counter-suits. I don't really know if it was his fault or not.

Intentionality was at the heart of Flores' approach. "Conversations" were the source, and they had to be grounded in intention. You had to be aware of the distinction of the conversation in which you were entering. There were Conversations for Clarification; Conversations for Commitment; Conversations for Action, and so on. These conversations were to be the building blocks of the recontextualization required for having a space in which intended results could appear. The first step was always to define what the conversation was FOR.

Anyway, that's how I remember it, for what it's worth. Conversations at this level of intentionality have real power according to Flores, and I have no reason to doubt him, even though I've seen his less than favorable side.


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