Jack Park wrote:
> Is sensemaking, maybe truth seeking, about persuasion?
I studied communication in grad school in the early 80s. In that field,
much of the newer and promising work going on was a reaction *against* a
model of communication as persuasion, which had dominated the field in the
previous decades. Brenda Dervin, for example, contrasted a sensemaking
approach to the persuasion approach. For her, sensemaking is a process
where people confront obstacles or discontinuities in their progress
towards some goal; when they hit such obstacles, they cast about for ways
to understand their situation so that they can design effective movements
around, through, or away from the obstacles. It has little to do with
persuasion and much to do with figuring out what's going on and what to do
in a situation where the normal rules are upset.
Simon Buckingham Shum and I wrote about this in "Collaborative Sense-Making
in Design: Involving Stakeholders via Representational Morphing ",
The paper contains a summary of Dervin's and Karl Weick's sensemaking
approaches, among other things.
Below are a few excerpts.
"....Developing and applying representations, whether they are mutually
intelligible or not, always happens in a context of shifting and multiple
sense-making (SM) efforts (Dervin, 1983). Everyone involved is engaged in
their own SM effort. There are not only gaps in the languages, frames of
reference, and belief systems that people in the different communities of
practice have, but gaps between their respective SM efforts -- their
problematics in the representational situation are different. In many
cases, different communities have mutually unintelligible SM efforts,
leading to mutually unintelligible representational efforts.
Weick (Weick, 1993) calls for "sensemaking support systems" that can aid
the process of constructing "moderately consensual definitions that cohere
long enough for people to be able to infer some idea of what they have,
what they want, why they can't get it, and why it may not be worth getting
in the first place." SM itself is largely tacit, even to the individual. In
many situations there is so much going on that participants aren't aware
that they are trying to make sense of the situation, let alone that the
ways in which they are trying to make sense are not the same as those of
Dervin's (1983) model of individual sensemaking posits that a person is
always attempting to reach a goal, or set of goals. The goals themselves
shift in time and place. Some are tacit, some are explicit; some are
conscious, some are unquestioningly assumed or inherited. Individuals will
continue trying to reach the goal until they are impeded by some obstacle.
This obstacle stops their progress and stymies their efforts to continue.
In order to resume their progress, they need to design a movement around,
through, over, or away from the obstacle. The actions they take at the
moment of confronting the obstacle are sense-making actions, which can be
understood as attempting to answer a set of questions: What's stopping me?
What can I do about it? Where can I look for assistance in choosing/taking
...the individual sense-making process:
1. An individual is always attempting to reach a goal;
2. Obstacles interfere with the individual's progress;
3. The individual figures out how to deal with the obstacle, often through
communication with others;
4. Having surmounted, avoided, or otherwise dealt with the obstacle, the
individual continues on their way, making progress towards their goals(s)."
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Wed Nov 14 2001 - 05:59:51 PST