Conversation System Design. Intro to Cybernetics and the Foundations of Service Design with Paul Pangaro, Fall 2010.

Challenge

Identify a system that requires (true or effective) conversation to function. The system should involve conversation that can be observed, which means that it is exteriorized in some way. Create diagram(s) of the system to show the structural relationships of participants in the conversation, or the evolution of the conversation.

Approach

I’ve always been fascinated by the Korean language, and in particular, its honorific system. While I’m fluent enough to generally converse in Korean with others, my vocabulary and sentence structures are still somewhat limited. However, because the Korean language has very well-defined parameters, I’ve always known how to converse and construct my thoughts to have a successful dialogue with others, regardless of whether or not I have all the words that I need.

I’ve never had the ability to articulate this framework, even though it’s been impressed on me since my childhood. And when curious friends or acquaintances have asked me how to say this or that in Korean, I’ve always had to pause and probe further. “How to say ‘hello’? That depends… who are you talking to? What’s the context?”

Cybernetics seemed to be the answer. Finally! A way to define and articulate this intricate conversation system.

    The Korean dialogue is comprised of honorific forms and 7 speech levels. Honorific forms are used to show respect toward a subject, while speech levels are used to show respect toward a speaker's audience. Speech levels are broken down into formal and informal speech. Depending on the status and relationship of the speaker and audience, a mixture of speech levels may be used in one conversation.

    The Korean dialogue is comprised of honorific forms and 7 speech levels. Honorific forms are used to show respect toward a subject, while speech levels are used to show respect toward a speaker's audience. Speech levels are broken down into formal and informal speech. Depending on the status and relationship of the speaker and audience, a mixture of speech levels may be used in one conversation.

    The Korean language as a system of conversation

    The Korean language as a system of conversation

    To effectively traverse this system, participants and their relationship to one another must be established and verified

    To effectively traverse this system, participants and their relationship to one another must be established and verified