Dialogue, Dynamics, and Digital Conversations

Frank Zappen speaks of concepts challenging  ancient traditions from Plato and Aristotle concerning Rhetoric and dialogue in, The Rebirth of Dialogue,

 Dialogue is not simply a way of persuading others to accept our ideas, but a way of holding ourselves, and others, accountable for all of our thoughts, words, and actions

Frank Zappen

Frank Zappen

The essence of dialogue, held in this light, becomes a dynamic, never ending interaction. Expression, in any medium, can be viewed in this manner.  The creator offers his words, art, and lyrics with the anticipation of an audience response. The awareness of this two way flow motivates people to think differently when presenting their work.

These ideas blend seamlessly with the first two chapters of our text book, Letting Go of Words.  Creating a dialogue on the web while keeping in mind who will see it and their responses to the site, transforms the process from a one way mass media production into a user centered manifestation that synthesizes the needs of both creator and audience.


The FOOD NETWORK website is my selection for analysis using the criteria outlined in these chapters.  The following components of the website were most apparent:

Easy to read print with Bold words and colors drawing attention to key phrases

Moving slide shows offer tantalizing images and headlines encouraging you to click

Delineated sections help focus your choice and direction

Personality profiles of the network chefs

Image      Image

Immediate links and information on TV shows

Social site Icons

A variety of clear options (hyperlinks)

In Chapter one of, Letting Go of Words, we are reminded that “People come to web sites to satisfy goals, to do tasks, to get answers to questions…Writing well = having successful conversations.”

food net platter

At Food Network, people are seeking an array of information related to food. The creators of this website offer a large variety of food conversations that are easy to find and access. This is accomplished by the following:

Big banner with “Shows, Chefs, Recipes, Restaurants” tabs

Game day recipes football fans

Information on the Network’s TV shows

Health and diet information

“Top recipes” and “popular searches” link

Pop up menus of related topics.

Chapter Two delves deeper into creating a more in-depth picture of the potential visitors.  What are their interest, demographics, computer skills, and reasons for coming to the site?  What personas can be created from data obtained about site visitors? What dialogues are they looking for?

The Food Network’s layout is  clean and easy to navigate.  Though there is an immense amount of information, I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  The site’s areas of interest are well delineated; however the user may browse at their leisure, choosing their own path. The creators spent time assessing the audience and creating usable areas for different personalities, tastes, and interests.

“In many situations, people’s emotions are important characteristics for you to keep in mind” is great advice from Chapter Two that the Food Network obviously followed.  Sports fanatics, nervous party planners, health enthusiasts, the harried family cook and the exuberant culinary adventurer can each find something engaging.

To complete the interactive consumer experience, the site offers a blog called, FN DISH,  which offers “Trending news, tips, tales, and recipes.”  A perspective on the importance of blogging from, Journalism Next,

 It’s simplicity, immediacy, and interactivity improved journalism throughout the first decade of the new century, bringing journalists and their audiences closer and removing the constraints of time and space that once limited a journalist’s ability to report a story and engage an audience.

A multifaceted approach brings to life the intricate balance between information sharing and a constructive dialogue.  Creating a “file cabinet” web site to rummage through does not engage or encourage anyone to use it.  By anticipating questions, providing answers, and informing  visitors, a site can create a dynamic interaction people naturally seek.


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