Why Record? (Audio, Video, etc)

A long-standing question in GCC, and a practice which probably keeps some potential participants away, is that we record all our conversations in video (using Zoom), and share them. Recently, the Saturday and Sunday sessions are shared publicly, but most of the previous ones since inception were shared to the GCC FB group only as unlisted links, and “not publicly”.

There are a few reasons NOT to record that have been raised:

  • People will be more free to “be themselves”
  • It may reflect badly on me and affect my income
  • others…?

I won’t address these here/now. If necessary, I can do so later.

There are a few reasons FOR recording these sessions:

We only participate in English, at 8am PT (for now), with Zoom, for 2 hours. Each of these factors is a filter on WHO can participate. For example, non-English speakers, people who are asleep at this particular time, people without internet access, people who can’t afford 2 hours of unpredictable and potentially uninteresting or irrelevant topics, etc. are all precluded from attending. Recording at least allows these folk to check in on these happenings, and get a sense of how and what was discussed.

We follow (mostly, still TBS, TBC) a “let’s not interrupt” protocol. We also (mostly) follow a speak briefly (not too long) protocol. This usually means that by the time I get to speak, several other topics have been put “on the table” PAST the one that I really wanted to respond to. So if each speaker has this issue, each speaker may NOT be responding to the point made directly preceding, and so that “flow” of the conversation may be difficult to follow. Not only is it difficult to follow, the entirety of a conversation may not be apparent unless one has very good memory and visualization and mapping skills, or uses a tool & technique to capture these topics, who said what, how what was said connects to what was previously said, which “threads” are relatively fleshed out, and which “threads” or specific utterances were never followed up, or further elaborated.

Having a record allows such mapping / re-creation of flow to be done POST session, so that the “space” of discussion can be depicted visually and shared, so that an understanding can be created and shared for WHAT was actually discussed, and whether the state of the discussion in this BETTER UNDERSTOOD representation guides further and future conversation.

Another set of insights that can be gleaned by reviewing recordings of conversations is to note HOW flow or interaction happens, or doesn’t happen. In other words:

  • Did a topic get elaborated?
  • Did common understanding get established?
  • Did assumptions get adopted unwittingly?
  • Did someone “talk over” someone else?
  • Did someone never get to speak?
  • Did someone’s contribution get misinterpreted?
    • Unintentionally?
    • Intentionally?
  • Did mutual respect and careful listening bring out everyone’s contributions?
  • Were everyone invited to speak?
  • Did time drive a consensus? or did consensus get established by reviewing everyone’s points?
  • Did a “agree to disagree” achieve anything positive? negative?
  • Did “power dynamics” affect the interaction?
  • Did anyone get “triggered”?
    • Did such a trigger “remove” that someone from the conversation?
      • Emotionally?
      • Attentionally?
      • Physically?
    • Did this “trigger” get addressed?
    • Did this “trigger” get “set aside” for addressing elsehwere? elsewhen?
  • Did time get utilized productively? meaningfully? effectively? wastefully?
  • Did participants’ expectations get met? unmet?
  • Was there focus?
  • Did moderation guide the focus effectively? ineffectively?
  • Was there followup decided? (action items?)
  • Did discussion repeat a previous discussion?
  • How much time was spent “getting everyone on the same page”?
  • Did everyone “get on the same page”?
  • Was careful consideration to shared content afforded by each participant, or was there minimal impact to the set positions each participant may have already had coming into the conversation?
  • < many other questions >

Most of these questions aren’t very directly applicable for the meeting taking place, and so probably aren’t focusing on the intended topic when brought up in real time. These questions ARE relevant to how culture in groups / teams / communities / etc gets established, however, and so are important to consider, by someone at some time.

These are questions which allow analysis and reconstruction of conversation dynamics and flow. This is a (research) practice in the study of Collaborology. Having these records of conversations provides MUCH fodder for such collaborology studies.

< more later >

Written on May 14, 2020