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Synergy and minimal Responsibility
The original comments by Anthony Judge
Tue, 2 Apr 2002

Well an interesting pick up of the exchange with George via Nadia. I guess my concern would be whether you were looking at all the various aspects of the issue. I somewhat got the impression, given the title, that everyone who did not communicate fully in some such setting was somehow minimally responsible rather than maximally responsible in fulfilment of the synergy agenda.

This sort of things frames in a form that all responsble people in a synergy group are eagerly in an "I am ready and willing to communicate" posture. I think this assumption should be examined more -- whatever posture people declare themselves to have.

There seem to be a variety of possibilities:

* no one says anything (silence has its own functions)

* what is said is of relatively low value to others

* what is said is perceived as offensive, too complex, etc too others

* in endeavouring to enhance the communication, what is said is perceived as one of the above by others

* the degree of exchange beyond binary interactions is minimal

* assumptions are made about the nature of the community which are only partially shared, if at all

* assumptions are made about the degree and quality of synergy sought by all participants (metaphorically perhaps best caricatured as the belief that promiscuity is better than anything else -- an interesting lead to explore since it is accepted that maximal sexual promiscuity is not appropriate except in quite radical groups)

* assumptions may be made about thresholds of fruitfulness

* there may indeed be diff"rences in absorbing capacity (both in terms of quality and quantity); some may have heard the same points many times before -- to what extent should they stress this or consider it health

* the emphasis may primarily be on phatic communication, namely exchange for its own sake and not to accumulate and integrate insights in any structured way

You describe the phenomenon as: They seem to be instances of a nearly universal phenomenon: even when people have good ideas to communicate, and even when perfect communication lines are available, that active communication doesn't occur most of times. 

My response would be that many may indeed have good ideas to communicate, but with whom should they be communicating them for best mutual benefit? Are those people present in the group? How much time can they devote to this process and using what means? 

How do they act responsibly in determining when to stop and remove the stone -- to use your metaphor? What if they are themselves perceived to be the stone by others -- or choose so to perceive themselves? Having driven along many stony roads, I think we all have to balance our responsibilities rather than define ourselves as roadworkers -- however much we would want the road to be better.

Having just had a smoke-filled lunch break, how does one respond to a meeting in which many metaphorically smoke? Should one stop others from smoking? Or should one go elsewhere? To what extent am I responsible for other peoples psychic health? And to what extrent should I inflict my criteria on them?

It is useful to turn the question round and ask, in any communication situation, when is it my responsibility not to be there in order to be somewhere else, or otherwise engaged? This raises the challenge of the number of places in which people would like communication to occur. In how many such cases can one participate? At what stager does one shift into a form of pub crawling, drifting from listserv to listserv to hang out? I hear that there some 16,000 health sites on the web -- in how many should one endeavour to communicate and what is to be said to the initiator of the 16,001th such site and their expectations about communication? I like the image of a field of flowers, each flower a website trying (competively) to attract pollinating insects? How irresponsible is the insect that does not go to a particular flower?

You refer to the need for discipline to respond to others. This is a well-recognized point which has proven to be significantly problematic in the academic environment. It is my understanding that few academic papers receive much satisfactory comment -- even those of the most eminent, and certainly not by the most eminent.

I acknowledge the merit of your iGroup idea, but I still think that it is not addressing the distintegrative tendency. My first enthusiastic, pre-web, take on such an idea .

My best effort at articulating what needs to be pulled together.

My summary of the challenges of synthesis dialogues.

On the other hand the web itself may be seen as necessarily partially structured effort at such integration, as I have argued in: From Information Highways to Songlines of the Noosphere Global configuration of hypertext pathways as a prerequisite for meaningful collective transformation.

You may be amused by my latest on "diamond dialogue".

I encourage you to pursue the theme of your article

Posted 2/4/02 - Kris's Page to which these comments address