What is conversational blogging? MSN has a few relevent pages, Google does too, but the answer doesn’t seem very clear. I’m going to propose a definition. Feel free to track-back or comment to add your 2 cents…
Conversational blogging is the act of publishing or reading blog entries in a way that groups related posts into a coherent dialogue.
There are several mechanisms that people use to build conversations in the blogosphere.
Comments are the simplist, and often the easiest method. It keeps all the relevent info in one place, and anyone who visits the post page can easily find the dialogue. Comment spam, and all the things that fight comment spam (CAPTCHA, Moderation, etc.) detract from the usefulness of comments for dialogue.
Referrers are dead in my opinion. Publishing referrers is just spam-bait.
Trackbacks may be the best we have for current technology. Spam is still a problem, but automated checking and blacklists seem to be holding back the tide.
Tags. Tags can be used to follow almost anything, and if they are specific enough, they can limit their results to a single conversation.
Search. The various blog searches have ways to subscribe to “who links to this or that” feeds, or you can follow conversations by tailoring your searches properly.
How could it be better? From a user perspective, when I’m reading feeds and find an interesting entry that might have an good conversation surrounding it, I’d love to be able to click something and set a “follow this conversation” flag. My feed reader should then give me some good way to visualize a threaded representation of all the chunks of information that relate to that specific entry. Comments, links, trackbacks, whatever, I’d want it all to be available in an organized manner. Let me un-follow the conversation later if I lose interest, but otherwise, bring me the new bits as they appear on the web, and provide some context for how they fit in to the dialogue.
This is a feed reader problem, but it’s gonna need a great search back-end, and a well thought-out UI on the front.
Tris Hussey links to a post by Amy Gahran pointing out that Blogging really isn’t mainstream enough yet. Amy says that email discussion lists and forums are easier for new or non-technical users to pick up and start using. Is it possible to make conversational blogging easy enough for these users, or are we forever doomed to a world where blogging is dominated by the technically savy?
Want to get a link? Complain… I was looking through some of my old posts, and I realized that the times that I have received links from other bloggers are almost exclusively on complaint or suggestion posts.
There is an upside to this. I know if I complain about a Microsoft product, my logs will show at least a handful of hits from Microsoft IP’s over the next few days. (This effect is even more pronounced if I include Robert Scoble’s name, coincidence?) I’ve also seen hits directly from other companies whose names have appeared in my posts. This is cool… The consumer has a voice, and the same search tools that are finding posts in my blog are indexing MSN Spaces, Blogger, LiveJournel, etc., so the barrier to entry is low. Still, I can’t help feeling a bit guilty for the fact that I get more traffic from negative posts than I do from positive posts. I even looked back and found that (in my opinion anyway) my postings have become more negative as time has progressed. I always hated the negative slant of TV news, and I feel bad that I fell into the same traffic/link-hungry rutt.
How can this get better? Well, I’m going to try to post about more positive topics in the future, and I’m going to make an effort to link to some positive posts as well. I know this isn’t going to even come close to changing the blogosphere, but at least my little neighborhood will have some glimmers of light.
I have to admit, I’m offering an opinion without having ever tried the product. Granted, I have tried several different components of the product at different times, but still, this is more an opinion than a review.
Google Pack offers users an easy way to add a bunch of what Google considers “essential” software to your PC. This includes antivirus, the Firefox browser, Adobe Reader (Acrobat for the old-school folks), Google Earth, Picassa, Google Desktop Search, the list goes on. Honestly, the bundling creeps me out. I’ve been hit with so many “Would you like the Google Toolbar with that” installation experiences lately, that I’m feeling a bit Anti-Google. I still think they’ve done a great job with many of their products (Search, maps.google.com, gmail), but the business practices are starting to worry me.
Why is a coalition of bundling between Microsoft’s competitors a good thing for Microsoft? Because it shows that they realy don’t hold a true monopoly on the computing market. Google is showing Microsoft, the DOJ, and the public that it is possible to compete with Microsoft in the software market. All they need is a couple of OEM’s to pick up Google pack, and Microsoft can take that to their DOJ reps as proof that the playing field is fair.
An additional benefit for Microsoft is that this brings some competitive pressure. Dare Obasanjo points out that Microsoft often does their best work when they have a valid competitor to focus their efforts against.
I’ll be participating in Search Champs v4 later this month. It looks like I’ll be working with the local.live.com team, so if you have any feedback, use the contact link (->) and drop me an email. I’ll do my best to take as much constructive feedback to the team as I can!