Linking the conversational threads


What many people don’t appreciate about blogging is that its power comes from how blogs are interlinked, not the blogs on their won. Individual blogs can be interesting. However it is the linking and commenting on other bloggers’ posts and thoughts that creates a single “blogosphere”. This unitary space of all blogs has powerful emergent properties, not least the ability to make the most interesting and valuable information and ideas float to the surface and become easily visible. The single most important way of creating threads between blogs is simply linking to other blogs – or traditional media – and adding thoughts and opinions. The next critical feature is comments. A blog that doesn’t allow comments hardly merits the name. Comments from others allow readers to see opinions and segues on the original post. However this starts to split the thread of discussions. That is why the trackback feature of blogging is so important. Trackbacks allow people to post their comments on other blogs’ posts on their own blog, and then place a link on the original blog. This allows readers to know that there is a relevant comment posted on another blog, and to go and read it. The primary problem with this is that you need your own blog in order to keep your comments on other blogs in the one place.

The recent beta launch of coComment seeks to address this issue, by allowing people to keep the comments they’ve written in the one place, make these visible in the one place without having their own blog (which in effect creates a blog, albeit exclusively of comments on others’ blogs), and track how comments evolve on a particular post or topic. Stowe Boyd recently proposed a “conversational index”, which rates blogs by the ratio of posts to comments. The reality is that a large proportion of activity in the blogosphere is in the comments. Now frequent commenters who don’t have their own blogs can participate fully, opening the door for a significant expansion in the scope of the emerging global conversation. Interestingly, coComment has been funded by the Swiss telco Swisscom, which happens to be one of the first telcos to launch proximity dating, some years ago now. There’s a very strong buzz about coComment. Not everyone is convinced, however the context is that blogger extraordinaire Robert Scoble was shown the site while visiting Switzerland, blogged about it, and the coComment folk are now desperately trying to keep up with the buzz, even though it’s well before planned release. Word spreads very fast in the blogosphere, when people are interested.