Depending on the situation, side conversations can create more connecting conversations. Structurally, they allow for more turn taking than a single conversion in a group.
One dynamic is the culture of the group. In formal and awkward contexts, side conversations can be seen as impolite or rude. There is at least an implicit expectation of one person talking at a time and usually in these contexts, interruptions are unwelcome.
Side conversations can be interpreted as disinterest in the singular dominating speaker. In work and public settings, the hosts might actually impose or suggest a rule about singular dominant speaking.
In informal contexts, side conversations can create more connecting conversations, especially when singular dominant speaking keeps the conversation more disengaging.
In larger groups, people can flow in and out of connecting side conversations. It's possible to cultivate the fine art of being in side conversations while staying present to the periphery of other opportunities. We can also optimize the engagement of others by connecting people and dots across side conversations.
When we host group conversations, we can implicitly and explicitly encourage side conversations and engage in any to help make them as connecting as possible.
... From the upcoming "The Art Of Conversations"