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Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations ECSM 2014
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Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations ECSM 2014


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Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations ECSM 2014, Brighton University

Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations ECSM 2014, Brighton University

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  • 1. Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations ECSM 2014 Brighton
  • 2. Gurteen Knowledge Café Sept 2002
  • 3. The Knowledge Café • The purpose of the Café is to bring a group of people together to have a conversation on a topic of mutual interest • The aims include: – the surfacing of the group's collective knowledge – learning from each other – sharing ideas and insights – gaining a deeper understanding of the topic & the issues involved – and exploring possibilities • It also helps: – connect people – improve inter-personal relationships – breaks down organisational silos – improves trust and engagement • It is a social face to face process
  • 4. The Knowledge Café Process • Speed Networking • Speaker makes short presentation • Poses question • Small group conversations at tables • Three rounds of conversation • Whole group conversation in a circle • Share actionable insights • Approx two hours in total
  • 5. UK Spain Norway Russia USA Singapore Hong Kong Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Australia Colombia Brazil New Zealand South Africa India Egypt Croatia Denmark Portugal Netherlands Germany UAE Café Stories
  • 6. Jakarta 2007 Knowledge Sharing Workshop Lesson: Own language
  • 7. Malaysia 2008 IBM Workshop Lesson: People like to stay in their comfort zone
  • 8. Thailand 2008 University of Bangkok Lesson: Small groups work well, large groups do not
  • 9. Abu Dhabi 2011 Lesson: Some people are very uncomfortable talking
  • 10. Barriers to Conversation
  • 11. Poor English Lack of confidence in English language ability
  • 12. Fear of loss of face • Saying something stupid • Making yourself look foolish • Lack of confidence • Fear of dominant people
  • 13. Fear of causing someone else to lose face Possibly a bigger fear than losing face oneself especially if the person is an authoritive figure
  • 14. Deference to Authority Singapore workshop story
  • 15. Humility • Sense of humility • Who am I to express an opinion?
  • 16. Culture Story of Chinese woman in Norway - education - don’t question authority
  • 17. These traits are dominant in SE Asian Cultures but also exist in our Western Cultures Barriers 1. Poor English 2. Loss of face 3. Causing someone else to lose face 4. Deference to authority 5. Humility 6. Culture
  • 18. Some Research Findings on Conversation
  • 19. Why is conversation easy? • Presenting & listening to speeches should be more straightforward than holding a conversation • This is clearly not the case • Conversation is easy because of an interactive processing mechanism that leads to the alignment of linguistic representations between partners • Humans are ‘designed’ for dialogue rather than monologue Why is conversation so easy? Simon Garrod; Martin J. Pickering The reason I started my Knowledge Cafés
  • 20. Influence of group size • In large, 10-person groups, communication is like monologue – members are influenced most by the dominant speaker • In small, 5-person groups, communication is like dialogue – members are influenced most by those with whom they interact in the discussion Group Discussion as Interactive Dialogue or as Serial Monologue: The Influence of Group Size Nicolas Fay; Simon Garrod; Jean Carletta The size of my small Café groups
  • 21. Friends with cognitive benefits • Talking with other people in a friendly way can make it easier to solve common problems • Conversations that are competitive in tone, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits • Executive function: working memory, self-monitoring and focus • Skills that are critical to problem solving Friends (and Sometimes Enemies) With Cognitive Benefits Oscar Ybarra, Piotr Winkielman, Irene Yeh, Eugene Burnstein, Liam Kavanagh Speed Networking
  • 22. Social sensitivity • Group intelligence relates to HOW members of a team talk to each other • Depends on social sensitivity of the group members • Readiness of group to allow members to take equal turns in the conversation • Groups where one person dominates are less collectively intelligent than in groups where the conversational turns are more evenly distributed Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris, Alexander Pentland, Nada Hashmi,Thomas W. Malone No Café table leaders
  • 23. Knowledge Café Principles
  • 24. Café Principles • Relaxed, non-threatening, open conversation – Close to a pub or café conversation • Everyone equal; no table leaders or report back • No one forced to do anything – OK to just listen • Trust people to talk about what is important – OK to go off-topic • No capture of outcomes – Outcomes are what people take away in their heads 1. No fear 2. No coercion 3. No leaders 4. No hierarchy 5. No capture 6. No control
  • 25. So what does this mean for online discussion forums & a potential virtual knowledge cafe?
  • 26. Properties of many Forums • English is the lingua franca • Large number of people • Open to anyone • No idea who is in the forum • Do not know the people • No idea of the authority figures • No idea of the trolls • Everything is recorded • 90:9:1 law Barriers 1. Poor English 2. Loss of face 3. Causing someone else to lose face 4. Deference to authority 5. Humility 6. Culture
  • 27. Nature of many Forum Conversations • Posts tend to be monologues • Posts often very lengthy • Grandstanding • Responses carefully thought through • More debate/argument than dialogue • Trolls & “intellectual trolls” thrive • Easy to misunderstand someone • Not easy to correct misunderstandings Barriers 1. Poor English 2. Loss of face 3. Causing someone else to lose face 4. Deference to authority 5. Humility 6. Culture
  • 28. So what’s the solution?
  • 29. Some Ideas? • Specific language forums • Peers only • Clear who is in the forum • Ability to edit/delete posts • Do not store threads for long • Small groups (3 or 4 people) • Permission to join conversations • Limit size of posts • Real time discussions Café Principles 1. Small groups 2. Socialization 3. No fear 4. No coercion 5. No leaders 6. No hierarchy 7. No capture 8. No control Barriers 1. Poor English 2. Loss of face 3. Causing someone else to lose face 4. Deference to authority 5. Humility 6. Culture
  • 30. Randomised Coffee Trials • In large organizations not easy for people to connect & build relationships • RCTs pair people at random for coffee once a week • Bank of England connects 4 people & call it “Coffee Fours” • SABMiller have “Randomized Beer Collaborations”! • Nesta • Cabinet Office • Mars • RSA • KHDA (Dubai) • DfE • Scottish Government Can be done virtually over Skype or Google Hangouts
  • 31. Telepresence – a blended solution?
  • 32. • Beam+ • Double Robotics
  • 33. Before I take questions, first I have a question for you 
  • 34. How do you think we could improve engagement in online forums & how do we improve the quality of those conversations?
  • 35. Questions
  • 36. David GURTEEN Gurteen Knowledge Fleet, United Kingdom Tel: +44 7774 178 650 Email: