Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Third Places - Part 3 - Conversation

"Neutral ground provides the place, and leveling sets the stage for the cardinal and sustaining activity of third places everywhere. That activity is conversation."

The primary activity in the third place is conversation. The conversation is lively and filled with wit and humor and passion. People are free to express themselves democratically; that is, no one's words are valued more highly because of their rank or position.

The unwritten rules of the art of conversation (ironically written down) are:
1. Remain silent your share of the time (more rather than less).
2. Be attentive while others are talking.
3. Say what you think but be careful not to hurt other's feelings.
4. Avoid topics not of general interest.
5. Say little or nothing about yourself personally, but talk about others there assembled.
6. Avoid trying to instruct.
7. Speak in as low a voice as will allow others to hear.

To me this is the first of the characteristics of a third place that cannot be fulfilled (completely) online. The internet offers an odd hybrid of corespondence and conversation (converspondence? coresation? - but I digress). E-mails and blogging and instant messaging cannot replace conversation. They cannot be as dramatic or humorous or engrosing, nor can they be as boring and tedious. Researchers say that 93% of communication is non-verbal.

"There's no emoticon for what I'm feeling." ~Comicbook Guy (from the Simpsons)

9 comments:

Tim Lewis said...

I can't believe you read my mind like that. I was coming to the end of the post and was thinking that exact quote. And then you said it.

spcpeters said...

hmm okay fine internet is not a third polace thats great then im left with none, also I want to say this doesn't work well because any conversation with me in it always has a heirarchy. I'm king in my own mind
"i'm king of the world: the strange dude before that trick lets go when she says she won't I hate liars"

Rebecca said...

James, get out of Tim's head.

James Wood said...

Sorry, I will take up residence in another head just as soon as one becomes available - Rebecca, are you volunteering?

Rebecca said...

I don't think you want to be in here. I know I don't.

tabitha jane said...

there is a coffee shop right by where breanna and i work called "the third place." we went there yesterday and i said "hey! this is like what james is blogging about!"

James Wood said...

Tabitha, that's cool. I knew that there were some places around with that name (I think there's a Third Place Bookstore in Seattle). I didn't know there was one right there in P-town. So, is it cool and do you want to hang out there?

tabitha jane said...

yes, but i usually can't because i have to get back to work you see. it isn't as cool as, say, java vivace or touchstone coffee house where i could hang out for hours. but it is better than the other coffee chops close by, they are all drive-throughs and provide no space or time to conversation longer than "how are you." this place actually serves lunch, so i think i will go there with some co-workers on our lunch break soon. it really is a good atmosphere. sort of a book lovers' place meets your grandmother's sitting room. definately not for everyone.

Mrs. Andrea Wood said...

I know that I understand people a lot better when I am talking to them face to face. Surely, I am not the only one that has misinterpreted (I don't think I spelled that right) what others have said because I didn't see them say it- I only read it.

Don't get me wrong- I love blogging and it has been a good way to keep up with a lot of our friends that we can't see face to face but I would prefer to actually see them.