Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kairos

It is always fun to learn a new word that's not yet a buzz word in the IT business and specially when the learning comes through a well-written article like this one. The representative examples of the use of kairos in the context of web design and user experience are great but the use of Comcast as an example of effective use to Twitter to address customer complaints put my brain in shutdown mode instantaneously.

If that is kairos in action, I would much rather not know more about it less try and put it to use myself. Having suffered greatly at the hands of Comcast's customer service (really, they should call it something else that better describes the third degree they put their people through thanks to their astounding levels of cluelessness) one time too many, I simply could not get past this line and read the rest :

Notice that Frank is not giving an obsequious “I’m sorry” or an insincere “You’re right.” He listens to the customer’s viewpoint, concedes to some aspects of it, and offers more information to refine the viewpoint. In the process, the customer gives him, and Comcast, some slack. Zing.

In a sense that paragraph was an example of kairos too - "Greek rhetoricians defined kairos as saying or doing the right thing at the right time". Right or wrong can be very subjective but it was highly effective in making me freeze on my tracks - I had made a decision (to stop reading and write this instead) which is the ostensible goal of understanding and using kairos :

When someone consults a website, there is a precious opportunity not only to provide useful information but also to influence their decision. To make the most of this opportune moment, web professionals need to understand the rhetorical concept of kairos.

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