de Tocqueville, de Schmocqueville - conversation's not declining
by Samuel Jones
In Talk Us Into It, we came to the conclusion that it's not. Conversation as an almost aesthetic pursuit, as in the salons of the 18th Century and Isaiah Berlin's soirees in Georgetown in the 1950s, has always been a bit of a rarefied pursuit. However, you and I are talking to each other no less than before. In fact, using the technologies available to us, we're probably talking more than ever and about many more subjects than before.
The problem comes when we think about this in relation to the way we manage our society and polity. Conversations are at the heart of our assumptions public realm, from community groups to parent-teacher meetings; however, the ways in which we have them have changed. We blog, we skype, we chat, and we comment about different things and on different sites that represent our many different interests. We are simply having conversations in different ways that are not necessarily reflected in the conventional means of representing communities. The challenge comes in how we reconnect the two.