Conversational Blogging II

April 23, 2003

in Conversational Blogging, Knowledge Innovation

Two interesting comments emerged on a recent “Conversational Blogging” post. Ton (it’s here obviously my new blog pinged (which this one doesn’t) – how to fix? Next week) picked up on my design / layout query and Denham’s comments below I’m reposting here and in comments to keep the thread.

“My experience is ‘blog’ dialog is weak by all accounts:

  • the record is fragmented not easy to follow or aggregated.
  • Bloggers tend to retreat to their enclaves and then reply. This is a very different form of reciprocity to dialog within the same ‘container’.
  • Strong personal opinions do not encourage extended dialog – good questions are the key.
  • Most posts are message orientated rather than open exploration – this does not encourage ‘conversation’ and turn-taking

These strike me as all valid.  I’ve probably fallen at one time or another for all of these traps too.  Yet if I had not blogged I would’nt have had access to this conversation or point of view today. It’s no substitute for face to face and finding real ways to collaborate. 

So Denham when I received your message (e-mail notification), I pushed reply and then considered:

  • Where should the reply go?
  • Assumed public?
  • Checked your wiki; should I respond there?
  • Where might further question best be posed?

This is where metalayer solves this conversational issue.  While looking at the wiki I also noted links to Nancy White, Americ Azevedo, and Carol Tucker all whom I know one way or another.  Two met via Ryze. Not sure any have “real” blogs.  Do check out Carol’s PKM space.  So easy to get diverted!

Now for me none of these systems work really effectively. I started blogging because I felt it was important to get writing (See Mitch Radciffe Cogitating) and the focus would emerge.  I think it is. I’ll add another category today (wasn’t using them before effectively) for conversational blogging

From my perspective blogging’s been a lot better than stradling many forums while not ever really finding a home. I also prefer newsfeeds to e-mail lists.  It’s more efficient – IMHO.

  • Are there a majority of bloggers uncomfortable (perhaps untrained) in threaded discussions / container forums?
  • Are the time issues (blogging vs forums) such that the broader net cast for a blogger provides more perceived value than the “tight knit” group in the forum space? Is this related to networking vs learning or knowledge seeking?
  • While blogs may not “container” info very effectively it appears to me they project and push snippets very effectively. How can we encourage these dialogues / conversations automatically into better forums, so optimising discovery and accelerating learning?
  • Could trackback have helped us? No compatibility yet. 
  • Last for now.  Aren’t blogs better than Wiki’s for letting you know what is happening in realtime?  Are pages like Ryze better at sharing human profiles?  

Few aspects that have frustrated my blogging. 

  1. Lack of data to analyse. I’m fixing that by moving my server.  I’ve also been working all those new blogging tools that report on networks, connections etc.  Frankly I want to know who reads, who links, who I helped to ask a better question. 
  2. My layout, and the functionality that is there. I’ve only started working on it.  Will be asking around for help.  I’m still sorting trackbacks (working on my new server!),  I want a guestbook, will try moving my posts comments to forums. There is some neat Comment Leader boards etc that are beginning to appear.  Zonkboard and IM capabilities too. 
  3. Community.  I’d like to link co-create my blog as part of a small community where there is more reciprocity in it.  Perhaps it just requries the creation of an offering.

Back to quotes:

“I’m struck by low number of blog posts that have replies – and after something is offerred, not many bloggers take the trouble to reply so the emergent thread dies.” 

Sometimes the threads die to the outside world.  Other times they are lost in a phone call.  What struck me was looking at Live Journal and Blurty pages recently.  Many had comments in double digits.  More like Asynchonous IM.  

When you throw a post out there it is nice to get something back.  A big thanks to all recent commenters!

Now I’m still not sure about the correct protocol for answering comments.  In the comments thread?  Somewhere else?  As the “blogging community” is amorphous, there aren’t the “cues” that one finds in RYZE or in Live Journal. 

So what “values” would you promote to create a successful small blogging community? Is there an illustration already out there?

I’d also like to know what wiki one should try and why? 

  • Thanks for replying. Wiki land is full of half-clones right now. If you are looking for a tie between wiki and blogs the best implementation I have come across is

    A key question in my mind is what creates the container for dialog? Having a person’s profile close at hand helps with identity formation, having a time ordered, scrolling record is better than a hierarchy of posts with insertions (that turn-taking thing), having date and time stamps and attributation may be useful but I do not see this as key.

    Wiki’s are different: you give up ownership and attribuitation in favor of annealing, refactoring and collaborative writing – I think that is a very useful form of ‘dialog’ when it happens. It is about creation of a joint document rather than holding a virtual conversation.

    The values that promote community are around recognition, reciprocity, respect, and open knowledge sharing. One small way to give recognition in asymetric blogs is to elevate a comment and post it on the main page. I tend to favor blogs that append comments rather than having them in a separate space away from the main flow.

  • I have actually built my blog from scratch. As the traffic has grown, I have been very eager to incorporate some sort of feedback mechanism into it. I am always wondering, what do people think about what they are reading. True, there is nothing worse than a one sided conversation.

    For instance, when I am talking with someone, I really appreciate it, if they at least nod, and grunt, to acknowledge my comments… which is likely to spur me on to say and invent more.

    However, since my blog is related to my company, I am a bit concerned that a completely open forum might bring some negative postings to the site. The work that my company does, could be considered very controversial to some…

    And of course, I often find that in the business world, there is always a front that is held in meeting with clients… a front that you know absolutely everything there is to know… encouraging an open dialogue on a business weblog would certainly bring this down fast!

  • I had a lot of similar thoughts on blogs being “un-conversational” until 2 events opened my eyes a bit. Let me preface this by saying I agree that blogs have some structural issues that discourage conversation.

    1 – Donna Wentworth of Copyfight told a story at a conference about how she was publishing in a traditional academic manner before her blog. There is no feedback at all from the audience in that system. Same goes for newspaper writers like Dan Gillmor. Blogs bridge the gap between online spaces like Bulletin Boards and traditional publishing like academic journals. Compared to the former blogs actually discourage conversation. Compared to the later they upon up a huge opportunity for conversation with the audience that never existed in the old publishing models.

    2 – Started going to some political blogs at the start of GW2. They routinely get comments in the triple digits. At I’ve seen threads with over 300 comments. The key difference between that blog world and the more old school tech/IA blog world? Not everyone has a blog. In the old school blog world everyone has the skills to make their own blog and everyone makes one. The result is total decentralization. In the political blog world, people way more people comment because they don’t have blogs and the conversation takes off.

  • ps – having a lot of problems actually posting comment here, perhaps that’s part of the problem? Also having them flow reverse chrologically like a blog is really strange, never seen anyone with reverse comments before, interesting.

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