Evaluation of Social Media as a Dialogic Process

Balancing Autonomy and Community

Social Media tools mediate the web of information community through facilities that both create and limit connections. There is an inside and outside to social media on many levels, and these concentric and sometimes overlapping levels of connection are defined by the meniscus which determines boundaries. While there is a digital divide, there is also the strange occurrence of having social networks crash together through some previously hidden degree of separation snapping into place. While there are invites, nudges, messages and winks; there are also blocks and ignores. The social lines within social media are both well-drawn and permeable.

Balancing Facilitation and Creativity

Functional constraints within social media services are a form of facilitation, but the clearly ludic and liminal characteristics of the environments created are a balance. People are given clear tools to filter and control their information, imaginal, place. But, people are also encouraged to explore connections both new and recovered through common interests and topics declared in profiles and in contextual folksonomic classifications within immediate communication and the ability to reconnect to underutilized contact lists, such as importing entire e-mail address books. Social media is mediated, but also liberating.

Cultivating of Dynamic Balance in Self and Others

The apparent, functional alignment within the larger circle of engagement through social media is in some ways its own reward. Within the dialogical environment, the principles mentioned above of community, autonomy, facilitation and creativity are all practiced on individual and community levels. Each participant cultivates their own practices of Isaacs’ dialogic leadership (1999), as well as, and moreover, cultivating those practices in others through both subtle and gross influences, interactions and collective thinking. Together this cultivating self and others is the fifth practice of dialogue I identify in my Thesis (2006) and add to Issacs’ model. The outcome of this cultivating is change fostered by and in the dialogic process.