Monday, January 03, 2005

Trackbacks/Comments are lame (hey Robert Scoble!)

I'm trying to participate in some blog conversations going on in the blogosphere, and basically it can't be done. This "global conversation" seems poorly designed.

Comments and trackbacks supposedly turn one-way blogging into a conversation, but it doesn't seem to me that it works very well. People post comments, but does anybody read the comments? Most bloggers seem to have trackbacks turned off.

There needs to be a better way. Maybe I'll build one. A global conversation should be just that: democratic, yet moderated. Usenet's moderated groups aren't a bad model, except that the topics are too many and yet too stringent (i.e. posting to a newsgroup is already categorized too finely before you start, whereas blogs can vary topics within the same "group").

I think the idea of threaded discussions needs to be brought to blogging, so conversations can be followed.

Robert Scoble just blogged about a problem for which we have the precise solution. It is in fact designed specifically to answer the question he (and Adam Curry) pose:
That's precisely why I no longer turn on my IM client. Well, that and that I have filled up my buddy list and can't add anymore people to it.

His solution? Let him advertise different status to different groups of people.

Oh, that is a killer feature! Does any IM have that? For instance, can I advertise to my family and boss that I'm online, but tell everyone else that I'm offline?

But since Scoble and Curry are A-List bloggers, paradoxically I have no good way to reach them and tell them about our IM that has groups and visibility control so you can be offline for weeks with one set of people and online constantly with 3 others. Oh well. Maybe they'll read this post. Yeah, right :)

[Later] It occurred to me that I could just email Robert, so I did. Sorry about the whining. I still think we need a better mechanism than trackbacks, though!


Luke Razzell said...

I wrote a related piece a couple of weeks back, Glen:

An excerpt:

What if blog posts and comments were represented at the database level simply as "text content" that was associated with meta-data specifying that item's relationship to other "text content" items in terms of whether it was part of a conversation thread or an original post? Blog applications could then interpret that information to represent items as "posts" or appended "comments" as appropriate, but syndicated versions of the same content might be represented in quite different ways by other applications such as newsreaders. And maybe blog tools themselves would evolve to facilitate a more truly conversational view of related items.

In essence, what I am suggesting is an untangling of people's identity and creative output from the "windows" onto them that applications such as blog tools provide. An indispensible piece in the technological jigsaw puzzle that could make this kind of thing possible is the establishment of persistent identity networks such as Identity Commons, which would allow people to form trusted data-sharing relationships not just within the specific (e.g.) blog service they use to work with their creative content, but also right across the network.

Anonymous said...

Steven Frank from Panic tried an experiment sort of like what you're describing. He called it Somniphobia, and it's sort of a blog+threaded discussion+RSS reader. As he rightly says, it's difficult to describe.


JC said...

I completely agree with your views.

Actually earlier this week I posted some ideas around the same problem on my blog:

This was triggered by a thought provoking post from Stuart Henshall that you may want to read:

In general I find your blog very stimulating. Thanks for sharing!