Ming the Mechanic:
How does one have a blogversation?

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 How does one have a blogversation?2007-06-21 19:16
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.

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21 Jun 2007 @ 21:03 by Hanae @ : Breakthrough blogversations

How does one have a breakthrough blogversation?

Checking out the links provided on a previous entries about breakthroughs, I came upon Lisa's 2x2 matrix {link:http://www.terryfrazier.com/weblog/index/2007/06/08|Terry Frazier} is referring to:


Though I find it vaguely unsatisfactory as a matrix - somewhat mistaken/misleading and a bit of an oversimplification - it does however invite some useful reflection with regards to action and focus and how they impact the dynamic at work behind what possibly makes an individual, a group, or a system, "stuck," "victim(s)," "dreamer(s)," or "peak performer(s)."

According to the matrix, "immovable" plus "scattered" generates the "stuck" condition, while "immovable" plus "Laser focus" produces the "dreamers." The "peak performance" condition appears as a product of "unstoppable" plus "Laser Focus."

Hmm... As I said, a bit simplistic here, but the notion of "focused" vs. "scattered" seems particularly relevant when it comes to the blogosphere. And there is indeed "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." It is also very relevant to networks, such as NCN (amongst other).

"If one make a post in one blog on something that several people have discussed already, it gets a little cumbersome to keep track of." Good point! And I recall that the matter of "coherence of dialog" is an issue that was brought up before on NCN (like {link:http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/_v445/__show_article/_a000445-000095.htm#com60845|here}, for instance.)  

21 Jun 2007 @ 22:54 by ming : Focus
It is kind of a strange diagram, indeed, even though it brings up some good points.

OK, so jumping around haphazardly between different blogs and threads tends to make one scattered. But if one could maintain a focus, like a thread that follows you from place to place, such as the awareness that one is following a particular discussion, maybe with some kind of objective, then one doesn't have to be scattered.

Immovable - Unstoppable, what are we really talking about there? Flexibility?

So, yes, if one can maintain a focus while at the same time being able to respond to large amounts of input from different directions, it makes sense if that adds up to some kind of peak performance.  

22 Jun 2007 @ 11:06 by mx @ : newciv.org has a partial solution
the way you've set up the 'recent comment' section on the newciv BLOG design, is, at least for me, already a solution for the comments on MY entries. I use it more these days after finding out that people commented on entries of years ago. Without the 'recent comments' feature it would be impossible to notice.

Remains the comments to my comments on OTHER sites, of course. But if one would create a dynamic page (like an RSS feed) of all sites to which I posted, containing only new comments on threats to which I myself made an entry at some time, one would avoid a 'linkback' and still get all the information...  

22 Jun 2007 @ 11:09 by mx @ : peak performance diagram,,,
there is a lot of truth in the diagram.. see also Applied Confront Scale: The Grand Delusion of 'Positive Thinking' on my BLOG...
if Positive Thinking leads to dreaming, which typically it does in my observation, the result is in the end a disaster...  

22 Jun 2007 @ 22:31 by ming : Comments
Yes, actually there are some things in this blog program that makes it relatively easy to both see who has commented directly on your blog, and also on the group of related blogs (in the newciv platform). Believe it or not, some blog softwares don't even have a way for the owner to see that comments have been left on old articles.

And for commenting on other sites, well, if one did it through one particular program, one could track it of course. I'm not sure, but it is possible that the Atom protocol has something that applies to posting comments from a standard interface. But even if it does, it might not be well supported on most platforms.  

23 Jun 2007 @ 02:44 by mx @ : support for comment check
Ming, you could be once more a pioneer and setting a standard by tagging the comments on newciv.org in a way that a feed could pick it up easily...


20 Jul 2007 @ 12:28 by fleer : Make Newciv.org cms software GNU public?
Hi ming,

I just wondered if you would make your blog/php CMscripts available for public download. That way you perhaps could attract some attention from companies wanting to implement it (Hint: And want some hired help to maintain it.. :) . Plus it has proven it's functionality and stability over the past many years.

Or you could sell it off to support the server costs for newciv.org

I'm sure that it would generate some income for both you and newciv.org


22 Jul 2007 @ 02:38 by ming : Newciv platform
Well, I'm not necessarily against it. But for one thing, the platform is showing its age. It isn't any longer a cool modern way of doing things. And, secondly, there's a significant responsibility and amount of work that go along with making it an open source project. I'd need to maintain it, fix security holes, keep developing it, etc. So, sofar I haven't seen it as overly attractive.  

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