Fred Wilson started a discussion this weekend suggesting that comments on blogs are often more insightful than the blog post being commented on. He suggests that comments should be more prominent available in aggregating sites like TechMeme and Friendfeed. And people that don’t blog but do comment often should have a blog site with all of their comments aggregated.
Steven Hodson joins in the discussion and notes that the landscape of blogging is about to change.
The trick for many of us – especially the independent bloggers and smaller networks – is to be willing to take advantage of anyway that comes our way to communicate with our readers. We can’t be afraid of changes as they happen but instead embrace them and use them to our benefit.
I see the same phenomenon taking place, even on a small time blog I have over here. Some people are willing to spent a good deal of time to comment on something I have written. In general the comments are insightful and well worth the read. To me, not only the fact that the commenter is willing to take the time to read and grasp what I was trying to say and then provide his own thoughts, is important. It is the interaction that comes out of it that makes it worthwhile. In that sense I agree with Fred that comments should be getting a more prominent space in the blogosphere.
But at the same time I also feel that commenting is easy. Easy, not because the stuff that is written down is obvious in any way. But easy because the original blog writer triggered a commenter to think and react. And that is what Blogging is all about. Some are in it for the money, some are in it for the fun. But a great blog post, no matter what it is about, makes the reader think. And that is what is so hard about blogging. I always try to write posts in such a way that my thoughts trigger other people to think and respond. I don’t have to be right. But I love it if it starts a conversation with people. Because out if this conversation there is always something to learn.
And there lies the value of a great commenter. If done right, a commenter helps explore the issue at hand. Offering solutions, perspective. But also asking question, wondering. If the blog poster is the one that starts the chain of reactions, the commenter is the one that helps lead it to a result. There is value in both, but to trigger the chain reaction in my opinion is often much harder than to participate in it. A great commenter can’t live without a blogger willing to write down his thoughts and expose them to the greater conversation taking place. But there is an incredible value in them. I’m not sure if they should be centralised somewhere, because you will lose the conversation that they were in (unless that is captured entirely). It isn’t the comment itself, but the exploration that is most important to me.
I may be wrong on this, what do you think ?
If today’s bloggers find it too challenging, those of us who have the energy and interest to keep going welcome their leaving. Commenting is simple. It can take seconds. Blogging and bringing something useful to the conversation is more difficult. But blogging can truthfully be anything you want it to be. It can be your personal diary. It doesn’t have to be a news site, as many of us have gravitated to.
@Louis I tend to think that if the writer is putting personal effort in it blogging is always a good way to go. That can never be wrong.
Commenting is often easier, but can be important too. As long as the aim of the comment is to bring the discussion further.
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Alexander and you, Louis bring up very salient points to the what some might call the “evolution” of blogging. I come from a very broad reading base which includes a lot of classical reading and study and two quotes come to mind, sparked by this blog entry and your comments. One is by Malcolm Muggeridge and the other by Solomon: “There is no new news. Only old news happening to new people.” and “There is nothing new under the sun.” People have been dialogging since conversation on paper began..and that’s what blogging really is all about. Those great dialogs by philosophers and theologians, exchanged sometimes by letter and preserved in the ancient libraries, sometimes exchanged by essays in the respected newspapers and periodicals of their day, were later “aggregated” in book form where the context of interchange was preserved. The electronic medium of today does not change that reality it only makes it seem different. The distinction between then and now – and Alexander, you emphasize this point by citing Mr. Wilson – is that our use or misuse of the technology stands at a crossroads of either learning the value of what it has and preserving the worthy dialogs by means of this debate ably greater tool or losing the lesson and allowing the technology and its options to move us in a direction that fails to preserve what is being created.
I would also like to add that democracy in this case is not necessarily a valid or true application: all men and women are not created equal writers or commenters. Some have a gift for it and others do not. And because of that distinction in quality, it can mislead as to what blogging (by virtue of the interactivity Web 2.0 provides the masses) really is.
My final suggestion, which hopefully will address what Mr. Wilson was trying to tackle in regards to proper venue for aggregation, is for some us to start partnering up, explore the dialog and flesh it out. Then cut a deal with the Kindle people. 🙂 This is what worked before and I believe it will work again. People have always been drawn to the re-occurring conversation between the fascinating relationship. Gentlemen, the alter is ready, let the courting begin!
@Melly thanks for the time you took to write your comments (an excellent example of what the discussion is about 😉 )
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