Rebecca Ross asks how observing a conversation might change it.
On the New York City subway, I once exited the N train at City Hall to find a two-way mirror looking into the control room for the entire N line. There were machines with diagrams of the trains' current status as well as microphone radios to issue intervening instructions to train operators. The MTA officials at this location have a lot of good information from which to make a decision. A simple example would be to send more Brooklyn-bound trains out if the majority of the trains are running Queens-bound - drivers themselves have no access to this information. At the same time, as a regular N train rider, I know that these train operators have no concept of how many people are stuffed into the cars at a given moment or even worse, that someone's fallen onto the tracks by Eighth Street.
How does participation in an event or structure, such as a very large conversation, via a map or overview of the structure, alter the nature of the actions we choose to take upon and within that structure? This is an especially important question to consider in the context of some of the phenomena of the very large conversation, which is essentially made of the delicate nuances of social interaction.