I am enormously impressed with the Danish Human Library project which is a form of conflict resolution through dialogue between people from highly disparate backgrounds in society.  I agree with Theodore Zeldin of Oxford University that conversation not only shuffles the cards, but creates new ones, and is central to human evolution.

The Human Library model is a paragon for a shift in the way that interviews are conducted.  Rather than a clear demarcation between a specialist interviewer and an interviewee from a particular field of employment or activity, how about interviews between people who are specialists in one field and those in another?   So, for example, how about an interview between somebody who has just set up a drum n bass music label and somebody who is an established literary agent?  Or somebody who is researching a cure for cancer in conversation with somebody who, say, created the Danish Human Library project?   That way, the conversation might involve a whole new set of cards being created as the comparisons and contrasts between the working lives and creative processes of the dual interviewer-interviewees are explored.

Of course, I am sure there are examples of this kind of cross-fertilisation already, but suggest that there is plenty of scope for more in the years ahead.  And it might serve to break down the sort of ‘fourth wall’ that exists in a formal interviewing model between a fixed interviewer and a fixed interviewee.  Bring on the interlocutors!

√ z.

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