Friday, January 09, 2009

It's the conversation that matters

Debating value in text counselling can usefully be viewed as a debate over what constitutes the boundaries of said texts.
The value is in the conversation, organic and open, and not in the transmitted increments. Yet wariness on the value of text messaging for counselling, more often then not, is because the focus stays on the transmitted increments, that is, singular messages of 160 characters or less, rather than the conversation. The analogous argument would be to criticize face to face- or any other form of counselling- based on sentences. The overall experience would be lost.

What is new about txt counselling?
It enables new forms of intimacy, new ways to perform counselling with distributed participants and new forms of performative practice. What then arises are differences in relating that can be considered.
1) What does txt counselling do to our sense of time and place and of being there for someone? Or as Jean Baudrillard provokes, what changes in the relationship when "the instantaneity of communication has miniaturized our exchanges into a succession of instants"?
2) There is a lot of "work" that goes into txt counselling, and this work is not always transparent, how is it configured, what reshaping occurs for counsellors and counsellees, as well as consideration for who benefits from the shift?
3) And a further problematic consideration: sms messaging is, at root, a database, and we are happily populating it with text based utterances, giving little thought to the uses to which such information could be put. Participants are "users" of the data base with little knowledge of, and no control of, the database. How does or should this affect how we use these technologies?

An so its worth looking at the actors involved in the performance, and of the work involved, for at present we do not know.

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