These are some thoughts that have been spinning through my head since I did half of my MLIS online, and my work in libraries and as an online writing coach since then has made then spin faster.

Think about a typical reference desk, f2f transaction. Now think about a chat reference transaction. Think about a typical conversation on a social media platform, and about a typical conversation in an online classroom’s discussion board.

All of these seem like good places for the Socratic method, a time-honored tool of philosophy and education, to be used, and in some of them people work very hard to employ it. They definitely not equally successful, though. Why do responses become monosyllabic or angry or simplistic so quickly in online environments? How much of this is due to the environment, and how much is maybe just due to human nature? What could we do to make our conversations more Socratic?

P.S. Apologies for anything weird in here. I’ve never posted to WordPress from my phone before…I hope there weren’t any crazy spelling errors! I’ll try to double-check this on my laptop when I have internet tomorrow.

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About Ruth Boeder

Humanities background: I majored in English and minored in Philosophy, and I perform music and dabble in theater. Technology background: I'm part of the Millenial generation, but I understand that growing up with technology doesn't equal understanding it. In the last few years, I've worked to learn more of the systems and processes and codes that drive technology, but mostly I like to observe its impact on the world and how it is being adopted.