Among other issues, I am interested in understanding how to support real dialog – not just people talking, but also listening to each other. Current tools support self-expression quite well. They could be better at supporting dialog. What I worry about is that we will have more and more voices online, with everyone in their entrenched positions, and no real effort to understand another point of view.
While this is inevitable to some degree (online voices are a reflection of entrenched positions in the offline world), but tools have a role to play here. Tools used for online expression also support a particular method of social interaction. They offer opportunities for interaction, conversation, and persuasion. There is a social structure enabled by every tool even if it is primarily used for individual expression. For example, the social structure enabled by trackback, wikis, a message board and a commenting system is different. It leads to different types of interaction. I believe that by thinking in a deliberate fashion about the social structure afforded by tools, one can support real dialog better.