The Longest Now


Rooms, Arenas, Spaces
Tuesday May 13th 2003, 5:33 pm
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Certain interactions demand complementary spaces.



  • Gladiators and performers need arenas, stages, centrality.
  • Pronouncements, announcements, stories are similar.
  • Public ‘conversations’ with lots of question-response… we still don’t know how to handle this.
  • Round-table discussions (public or not) work fairly well around (if public, most of) a round table with a moderator.
  • Large-scale discussions, with input from hundreds of people, work acceptably via mailing lists (cf. software-dev  lists) around a shared, collectively updated corpus defining the status of the discussion.   


I’ve never seen this done outside software design, not that it wouldn’t work in parallel fashion with law or music or publishing or education.  And similar processes are certainly the foundation for some of the ‘innovative’ seminars about brainstorming.



  • Large-scale discussions without a shared corpus (e.g., about things too abstract or novel or fleeting [elections!] to have an obvious one) have yet to work well.  There may be a suitable space for them, perhaps require a more than trivial infrastructure.

What else?  What spaces have the greatest impact on your life and thoughts and understanding?  This one, for instance, is clearly not an ideal space for a discussion about new things, since it privileges editors’ comments over those of others (and posts, like this one, are at heart more often questions than pronouncements).  It is, however, a great place for holding forth — and perhaps receiving input, as the presenter has time.


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