|by Flemming Funch|
Blogs are in part about having conversations, I think. But how exactly?
Most blog postings allow comments. So, one can talk about things in the comments. That makes sense if one happens to come back and look at that posting several times. Or one has some other mechanism for knowing that somebody answered your comment. One can subscribe to a comment feed, but few people would do that. The result is that if you leave a comment in somebody else's blog, it is quite likely you never notice that other people responded or posted comments that were related and many interesting.
If several people have blogs, one can respond to other people's postings in their blogs by posting something in your own, and including a link to the other post you're commenting on. The owner will usually discover that before long, from watching Technorati or some similar service, but they might not. There's a protocol exactly for letting blog owners know that somebody linked to them, trackback, but that is pretty much out of commission now that it is mainly used for spam. I remind you that my blog receives around 5 phoney trackback accesses per second all day long, and there isn't really more than one blog or less per day that creates a real link to me.
If I make a post in my blog on something that several people have discussed already, it gets a little cumbersome to keep track of. Maybe I don't even notice, and even if I do, do I link to all of them? It becomes a bit like writing an academic paper, which is not what I like blogging to be.
There's a bit of a lack of a mechanism that ties these things together. A way of making blog postings and comments part of a conversation, even though it happens in several places. Could be simply a tag, I suppose, although you might easily get a lot of other things mixed into it, unless you make a very specific tag. And you'd have to count on that there's some service that picks up everything with that tag, which doesn't quite happen. Technorati will pick up posts on your front page and their tags, but is not going to pick up comments, and is not going to notice if you add new tags to older postings.
Or it might be that one has a way of referring to a root posting in a certain way. "Matt's discussion of breakthroughs" would naturally start with a particular post with a URL. And it wouldn't be very hard for people who post their own articles or comments to link to it. But it would have to be a certain type of link, or be stored in some kind of shared register. I mean, either some kind of <link rel="conversationabout" href="...">, or you ping a particular service which keeps track of which items refer to the same conversation root.