Sunday, May 30, 2010

Unity of purpose, communication, and representation

Further on the idea of integral representations and the role of practitioners in making representations matter...

As I was working through writing up the "how good/successful was the session" question, it struck me that one way to characterize this was by considering how closely three dimensions were unified in each session -- the purpose, or intended (as well as emergent) reasons or goals for each session; the communication, both verbal and non-verbal, the way the participants (as well as practitioners) interacted, and the representation, the visual artifact (Compendium maps in the cases I'm studying, but could be any kind of visual or written representation, or even just a verbal representation if there is some sense of a central focus for the session):

The best sessions see a fusion of the three dimensions. Purpose, communication, and representation become indistinguishable in practice; why we’re doing what we’re doing, how we interact with each other, and the visual artifact appear to be unified:

By contrast, in less optimal sessions, the dimensions are disconnected from each other. For example, people could be talking about something that is more or less removed from the ostensible purpose of the session, and the representation itself is ignored or irrelevant:

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