More on this later, but I wanted to get this up:
This will be a panel at South by Southwest March 2006:
Us and Them: A blog conversation survival guide
The online experience of communicating with each other through blogs can sometimes feel more like a sparring match than a conversation. Even outside of the A-list blogs that use conflict as an attractor and entertainment factor, there are plenty of examples of blog comment streams that contain a good deal of invective as well as personal attacks. This isn't true of all blogs but it happens often enough that we wonder if we can find more ways to have conversations with each other with blogs, or if we should even expect this? This panel explores and questions our individual and collective behavior in blogs and blog comments.
There have been other discussions: Are "Nice" and "Honest" Mutually Exclusive?
This is the comment I left:
This false dichotomy -- nice vs. honest -- is endemic in our culture. I believe it is because very few of us learn alternative methods to be forceful and clear without being hostile. It's a skill, and it needs to be explicit taught and practices. The other skill is how to respond without defensiveness when verbal violence is directed at you. Same thing--needs to be taught and practiced.
Suzette Haden Elgin has written a wonderful book, "How To Disagree
Without Being Disagreeable". It's availabe at Amazon. I've outlined the
book in three posts:
Part I: introduction and overview, also discusses the false reasons people feel they must use hostile
Part II discusses the three fundamentals to staying unflustered in a conflict Detachment, Listening, and Metaphors (http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2004/06/part_ii_how_to_.html)
Part III outlines some of the alternative strategies to verbal violence. (http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2004/06/in_part_one_we_.html)
At How Stuff Works, Ms. Elgin has a part presentation of "Verbal Self Defense".
Part One Introduction and Overview.(http://people.howstuffworks.com/vsd.htm)
Part Two The Basics of Verbal Self Defense (http://people.howstuffworks.com/vsd1.htm)
Part Three Using the Boring Baroque Response (http://people.howstuffworks.com/vsd2.htm)
Part Four Using the Computer Response
Part Five Going Forward.
There's also a template for making an effective complaint (http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2004/06/making_an_effec.html)