Skip to main content

The future of blogs....

Wow! I've been lazier than usual. Mid-way through August and hardly any posts. On the flip side, I've found a place, a car, a Internet and TV connection and am now raring to return to the ranks of the gainfully employed this coming Monday.

Anyway, Chris' post, in response to my earlier post, in response to his post, while surprising me (someone actually reads my blog!) reminded me of a discussion I'd followed earlier, and something that had me thinking for quite a while.

It was a while ago, so unfortunately I wasn't able to find the sources (in the twenty seconds that I alloted to the task.) The discussion was about the future of blogs, and more specifically the evolution (or necessity of the evolution) of blogging platforms.

A summary of what I came away with follows.

Blogs are means of communication as well as expression, but they are in some sense egotistical (as they should be!) On my blog (or a company's/group's blog) you get to hear what I/we think. Others can comment on it, but I'm in control and the conversation is geared to my audience (whomever I'm expecting to read the blog.) This generally works well for most blog posts from most bloggers. After all, the most blogs are personal: personal opinions, personal insights, a diary, even news that a person is breaking. The hyperlinks out of most blog posts are either explanatory or citing source material. In an ideal world, the comments section embellishes the post. Its a place for the audience to express agreement/disagreement, add information or just rant. If you're lucky, you get a meaningful discussion there. If you've been a Slashdot reader, you know that often the quality and the usefulness of the discussions in the comments section can far exceed the post itself. Caveat emptor: while I was a religious Slashdot reader for a long time (though my posting attempts were limited to silly attempts to get the "first post":)), I haven't visited the site in well over a year and a half, as I'm getting my tech fixes elsewhere now.

Anyway things seem fine upto this point, but hold on! It starts getting ugly when bloggers who're commenting on other blogs (and who isn't a blogger these days?) want to post or reference their comments on to their blogs. This is a perfectly natural thing to want to do, not just to claim ownership of any opinion/idea, but also to extend the conversation to one's own readers. The problem then is "Can a blog post in one place be a comment in another?" This not only affects the content on the post, but also form (most comments don't allow images/advanced formatting.) And lets not even start approaching issues like wanting to tweak the text in your blog post. Will the text be update-able automatically in the comment that you left somewhere else as well?

Stuff like trackbacks, and even just ordinary links done with care do work, but they are hardly an elegant solution. So for a third-party reader just trying to follow a post and comments, things can easily get confusing and there is little motivation to try to get through all the information available. Now if there was one dominant blogging platform, this is technically a reasonably easy problem to solve, but it looks unlikely that that will happen, especially since the most widely-read bloggers will always want much greater control over their platform.

So the discussion over the future of these blogging platforms divided people in two camps: one that believes some sort of standards would fall into place, accompanied by innovation in user interfaces where the links between blogs and blog comments were better described and the other which believes that things will stay pretty much as they are now.

I started on the side of the evolution, but as I thought through the most basic use cases, I switched sides. Do you have an opinion? Care to post it on your blog or put it in the comments below?:)

Comments

Andrew said…
i think the interfaces and uses will evolve - and in fact this belief of mine inspires some of the stuff i work on.

reasons why the interface will evolve:
1. the rss concept and practice is way too technical for 90% of people.
2. reading lots of blogs is pretty unmanageable even for techie people.
3. plenty of people would write blogs, but the concept and the doing seem too technical for them.
4. if you solved these things, it would be a big win for how lots of people communicate.

my dos centavos.

Popular posts from this blog

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.



Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)



It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)

Measure f-ing everything, and assume f-ing nothing!! - Or how mentoring ruined lives :-(

I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.

I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.

It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…