The studies done on the role of grounding in establishing intersubjectivity involved face-to-face or a-synchronous communication. The diversity of communication practices grows extremely rapidly, as various forms of e-discussions gain popularity. For those practices, especially for some cases of e-discussion, wewill argue that groundingmight be questionable if we view intersubjectivity as the coordination of contributions in joint activity. We will also show that the sense of intersubjectivity as sharing of subjective states among several individuals, cannot be retained for certain synchronous discussions. The question is then how communication ismaintained?And is it possible for discussants to learn from such discussions? Those are harsh questions that we will approach in this paper in the case of synchronous e-discussions with a particular tool for facilitating collective argumentation in synchronous discussions. This particular tool is representative of a quite large set of tools for facilitating e-discussions that displays a representation of the on-going discussion, including its whole history. We will claim that this gradually produced representation (called here an argumentativemap) which is shared by the discussants while participating in their discussion, enablesmaintenance of meaningful communication among them, although possibly no idea is shared and no coordination of actions is attained during the discussion. In an example, we will show that the argumentative map produced by the discussants will serve as an artifact for projecting personal interpretations of the synchronous discussion so far,whichwould have probably led to ruptures if communication would have been face-to-face. We will point at the cohabitation of incompatible prolepses, or what we call co-alienation along with new kind of communication.Wewill show that the discussants can learn from such discussions.Wewill discuss whether in this case, a new sense should be conferred to intersubjectivity. But, before we delve into the analysis of the synchronous discussion, we first review what is known in communication studies about synchronous e-discussions. As we will see, this review appears to be highly relevant to the issue of maintenance of communication.
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The Role of Grounding