The discussion surrounding the previously addressed Commenting Issues in the Blogosphere heated up again this weekend with Robert Scoble claiming that the Era of blogger’s control is over. When I asked the question: Where Do You Leave Your Comments? I only dealt with commenting on blogs:
When bloggers are quoting other bloggers and you want to comment on the issue, where do you leave your comment?
There are three different options:
1. Comment on the the original post
2. Comment on the post that quoted the original post
3. Start a new post and use trackback/pingback to notify the other two posts
However, we are increasingly using other services and social networking sites to engage in the conversation. The feature to auto-post your latest blog post on Twitter is a very popular way to promote your blog post. It also means that you may receive comments on your blog post in the form of a Twitter reply.
I notice that I reply differently on blog posts when I comment on Twitter than on the actual blog post itself. When commenting on a blog post I feel the need to sit down, reflect and spend some time on formulating a valuable comment. However, when I comment in the form of a Twitter reply I am not only limited to 140 characters but I also feel my comment is part of a time sensitive flow. This means that my comments are not only shorter but that it also lowers my personal barrier of commenting, I can write a quick and short reply.
I recently commented on a blog post with a Twitter reply suggesting some corresponding literature. The author then asked me if I could comment on the blog post also which I then did. This is the problem we are currently dealing with. Should we care where our comments are, that the conversation is increasingly scattering around the blogosphere? Should we cling onto our blog as the central aggregation point of our conversation?
Friendfeed suggests that the issues of distributing commenting in the blogosphere seems to have moved beyond control. It is the perfect tool to keep up with your friends’ feeds but it also allows you to bring the conversation to Friendfeed. The situation is getting more and more dispersed. We use centralizing features such as CoComments to keep track of where we leave our comments but the conversation is only visible to us and not to others who would like to participate.
I don’t care where my comments are, as long as I am aware of them. This is the issue that we need to address which is an infrastructural issue as Matthew Hurst from the Data Mining Blog points out:
What is being lost in the conversation is the fact that the infrastructure of the blogosphere, due to its somewhat amateur evolution process, has not managed to fix some of the serious issues that have troubled it from the past. Commenting is exactly one of those things. As the value and use of comments evolved, and as the distribution mechanisms of content evolved, little effort has been made to bring commenting along with it. What has happened, is the appearance of a number of hacks on top of the base infrastructure to get around this issue. Perhaps the exception to this is the RSS 2.0 commenting mechanism.
Do we need an infrastructural fix or should we just “give up control” and focus on the conversation taking place? Robert Scoble doesn’t care where his comments are, do you?
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.