Re: Use of email, Face to Face, Control Issues
From: Ken Collerman (kcollermwindsong.bc.ca)
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001 00:26:02 -0600 (MDT)
At Windsong we've used email and threaded discussions as a way to improve
participation decision-making by enabling those who would not be able to (or
would prefer not to) participate in face-to-face meetings to express their
views and read the views of others.

Overall, these methods have worked quite well.  The problems we have
experienced with them are inherent in the methods themselves (ex. no
inflection, no non-verbal signals) which have led to miscommunication.
However, we have also experienced problems with face-to-face meetings that
we have not experienced with these other methods (ex. interruptions,
intimidation, dominance).

I think both face-to-face meetings and the other methods of discussion have
their place.  The key is learning how to be effective in each.  For example,
how does run a meeting without interruptions? One way is to use the color
card system.  How does one use email/threaded discussions to express humor?
One way is to use symbols like :-)

It's amazing how much better  Windsong meetings have been when a member
experienced/trained in facilitation chairs the meeting.  Email and threaded
discussions are relatively new methods for communication.  I've found the
following references to be useful for email:

http://www.library.yale.edu/training/netiquette/
http://www.cs.queensu.ca/FAQs/email/etiquette.html
http://support.ici.net/email/etiquette.html
http://www.radcliffe.edu/rito/tips/email/etiquette.html
http://www.cuc.claremont.edu/email.htm
http://arachnid.pepperdine.edu/PlanitPepperdine/helpdesk/Email/Etiquette.htm

Threaded discussions are somewhat different in that they are more private
(i.e. it's usually more difficult to forward a message), they don't have
attachments (so you don't have to worry about viruses) and the threads are
obvious (so you don't have to include a part of the message you are replying
to).  However, most of the rules of etiquette for email messages apply to
messages in threaded discussions.

Ken Collerman
Windsong Cohousing
Langley, BC


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