Fall 2013—Assignment 4—Due at class start of Class 5 on October 1
Conversation system diagram
Identify a system that requires (true or effective) conversation to function.
The system should involve conversation that can be observed, which means that it is exteriorized in some way. This excludes conversations that takes place entirely in the head of a single person unless there is an interface of some kind which requires the person to express key elements of the conversation via that interface.
Create diagram(s) of the system to show the structural relationships of participants in the conversation, or the evolution of the conversation, based on the readings and handouts of the course. Deciding which models to use is part of the challenge, as is the number of models you think you need — a few is a likely minimum. Be sure to:
- Identify the components of the system and their functions
(e.g., participants, observer, levels, goals, means, actions...)
- Represent the relationships between components visually
- Title the system overall, adding sub-titles to individual diagrams if more than one
- Include your name, the date, assignment # and version # on the page
There is a great deal of subjective judgment required to make an effective conversation model. When building your model from foundations in the cybernetics of conversation, remember the fundamentals about models (fit, least means, consistency, predictive value). Scanning readings for the next class should help.
Your diagram should help its audience answer these questions, as appropriate to your domain:
- Where is the boundary between participants? What constitutes the boundary—individual persons or groups or differing points of view?
- What are the vertical layers in the conversation, as you observe it?
What are they called / how can they be described and differentiated?
- Which interactions are “it-referenced” and which are “I/you-referenced”?
(Be sure that the “it-referenced” interactions are control/feedback loops and the “I/you-referenced” interactions are language-based.)
- What is/are the goal/s of the participants? The observers?
- What feedback is required for goals to be achieved?
- What are the expected changes after the conversation takes place, for example, in mental models of the participants? Which are desirable? Which are not?
- Does the conversation involve learning? What?
- Does the conversation involve cooperation or collaboration? About what?
Goals of the assignment:
- Begin to understand methods of modeling conversations
- Begin to feel the complexity of conversation, the difficulty of designing for conversations, and the centrality of conversations in interaction design.
Please make 2 copies, one for yourself and one to hand in.
Please email a copy to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE class begins and also place it in the dropbox. Thanks.