TED Conversations

Timm Amstein

Student , TU Dresden

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Do we have to change the way we discuss on the internet?

A discussion is a vivid and passionate way to try to find the truth, behind a subject.
Today, after watching a talk, a documentary or a show nearly everyone shares an opinion about it with family, friends or the whole world. In times of facebook, blogs and twitter this comment can be seen by a lot of people.
The reactions to this comments are simply presented below the comment or simply in the thread.
Is this realy the most efffective way to do this?
If you didn't join the conversation early, to make a comment that is valuable to others, you have to read mostly all the contributions made by predeccors.
The effect is that in the end real discussions or even conversations only happen between two or three people.
Is this the real potential of the internet?
Creating the same size of discussion you can have in a bar only with someone around the globe?

I know, because the blog and thread system is so easy to implement and admister it is used nearly everywhere and it is the best wayto collect ONE way opinions, but it fails on the response part.
I think a good way to start a discussion with a GOAL, would be a interactive wiki approach, like the one google did with wave. So comments would be very specificly related to paragraphs or even sentences. Through try and error the document would grow. Very important, to speperate it from normal wikis, should be that the discussions and comments stay on the dokument. This way different approaches can be followed.
The result should be a dokument with a root like structure. I play Go sometimes online and there they use a similar system to find better ways of playing the game. I think online chess platforms use similar techniques.
The advantange would be that comments would be sorted and double statements minimized, discussion can have a real RESULT and somebody who wants to contribute can watch a document grow and open new paths or can simply accept the last state and contribute to that.


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    Mar 28 2013: Have you ever participated in one of the TED Conversations chats that are open live for something like an hour, typically with an author of a newly-released book and moderated by a TED staffer? It is still online- no visuals.

    Doesn't Google plus have a conferencing capability that people can use in this way by arrangement that does include voices?

    I know some online course providers (not the MOOCs) teach via a live discussion board or interactive whiteboard onto which all the members of the class can post live.
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      Mar 29 2013: I never attended one of these particular TED conversations, but I think they are a special case. Because of the fixed time limit most of the active players will be be there from the beginnning. If thats the case the discussion between many people isn't the problem, because everyone can follow everyone. I want to pick up that example to emphasise my point. I think it would be really hard for me to contribute effectively, if I join the one hour conversation at the 35th minute. because i can't go through all the comments made before in this short time and i don't know what the status of the discussion is.
      I also think that a conversation about a given book is more stable and not as likely to change, as a talk about an open subject, where very diffferent opinions and standpoints can clash. By that, I mean that a given text gives room for dispute, but also gives constraints that some other conversations don't have. I think the important factor here is the limited time which gives stability.
      Also I want ti ask back to you if you think that these discussions were held in an efficient way?.

      The google hangouts and google drive use many of the techniques to solve this problem i think, but the problem is that this technology is based on project work. You have to organize a hangout or a project group to work on drive in order to work effective. Also in online courses coordinated by companies and other organizations. I think the main factor here is the limited number of people, who can access the technology. The software they use is, maybe very efficient for project groups or classes but are they capable of handling contibutors on massive scale?
      I attended a lot of cousera courses (MOOC) and I have to say I am dissappointed about the discussion forums because, the effect of 10000 people trying to discuss about one question is that these forum can't provide a proper presentation and guidance. That's one of the reasons i started this conversation.
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        Mar 29 2013: I have not participated in one of the TED book chats either. Perhaps someone will respond to you who has.

        I did one Coursera course in Fall in which I tried the discussion board. I too was greatly disappointed in that aspect of the course. The discussion board was also entirely unmoderated, so it just seemed like one would have to wade through lots of socializing to find anything substantive and people were often not able to help each other effectively. Not for me.

        From what I understand, those who are following the MOOC providers see substantial variation in quality of Coursera courses, so some may have better functioning discussion boards than others.

        EdX (MIT/Harvard/Berkeley) does their online discussion differently. In addition to their discussion board, in which both paid and unpaid TAs also participate, they have appointed times for what they call TA office hours which are scheduled times for live discussion. I don't know how those work with tens of thousands of potential participants.

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