Conversational UX: Knowledge and Conversation

Dr. Carmen Martínez
7 min readAug 1, 2018
Machine, I don’t understand you

Tacit knowledge, Intention and Order in Conversation

In an earlier post, we introduced Conversation Analysis (CA) as the sociolinguistic discipline concerned with the systematic study of what is known, in general terms, as interactive talk or talk-in-interaction and, more explicitly, everyday or spontaneous conversation.

CA approaches the study of the conversation from three interconnected theoretical assumptions:

  1. The core importance of tacit knowledge processes in the creation of meaning during interaction.
  2. The consideration of utterances as actions.
  3. The principle that conversation is sequentially organized.

These three concepts guide the researcher across understanding conversation. In the field of human-to-machine interaction, they can also be adopted by VUI designers as theoretical frameworks for the construction of more natural and advanced dialog systems as a way of interacting with intelligent assistants and speech-enabled devices.

Starting with a series of three posts, in which we will analyze each of the previous concepts individually, next, we describe the benefits of using a dialog writing methodology for VUIs based on the recognition and application of the tacit knowledge procedures on which conversation cognitively is rooted.

Tacit knowledge processes in conversation

CA considers that interlocutors create meaningful conversations by explicitly codifying in them cognitive tacit knowledge processes, which ensure the proper production of natural interactive talk by following an explicit order.

The ultimate aim of the discipline is to explain the nature of the rational knowledge that the interlocutor needs to apply, together with a set of sociolinguistic skills, in order to:

  • Provide meaning to the utterances of the other speaker.
  • Adapt the content of each utterance to the current state of the ongoing interaction.

The basic working hypothesis in CA is that conversation constitutes the verbal materialization of language as an instrument of thought. Since the ultimate goal of…