In one of the meetings in SL that I regularly attend, there was a partial communication breakdown that let to a lot of confusion, misunderstandings and even hurt feelings the latter of which I wasn’t even aware of during the meeting.
As far as I can reconstruct what happened after looking through the chatlog and talking to the participants, the following seemed to have been some of the reasons for the communication breakdown:
- Some participants used voice some text
- Some of those using voice missed what was being written in text
- Some participants were not aware of the fact that the normal chat range is 19 m and what there actual distance to the others was.
- Participants might have been confused about the roles and the agenda (Who is leading the session? What is the agenda?)
Because of number 2 and 3, some participants thought they or what they were saying was being ignored by the others.
Communication in SL, especially with larger groups, different members participating in the meetings, changing roles and agenda can be a challenge. Besides the issues mentioned above,
- information overload,
- non-linear discourse and
- lack of body language
can cause disruption of a conversation.
Coincidentally, one of the new activities for section 3 is about collecting tools and building a guide for them (HUD, interactive book, bot, …) using the playfulness approach. Among the themes suggested is also one about tools for Communication and interaction. I’ve already been thinking of looking for ways of how to make group discussions more effective after having attended several (chaotic and ineffective) discussion with larger groups. Now, seeing what negative effects such communication breakdown can have on the rapport of a group, I want to look for tools and procedures that can help make such group conversations more pleasant and effective.
If anyone reading this knows of such tools or procedures in Second Life, I’d be more than happy if you left a comment and let me know.
One tool I can already add to my list and can recommend to everybody in SL is
- A chat range indicator (included in the Sloddle and Mysti tool) that shows a list of avatars within the chat range so that the speaker knows who can hear them.
Procedure’s that can help
- Explicitly mentioning/showing
a) who the moderator of the current meeting is
b) what the agenda is and in which order they topics will be dealt with.
(to be continued)