(UPDATE JULY 30: I’ve just streamlined the process described here a bit more…)
I firmly believe that the point of weblogging is not merely to have your own blog, but to participate more fully in the public conversation. This means reading and commenting on other people’s blog’s ideally at least as much as you post in your own.
Personally, I comment often throughout the blogosphere so much so that I often lost track of what I’ve said, and where. As yet, the infrastructure of the blogosphere doesn’t make it as easy as it should to follow comments from a specific person.
Therefore, last night I decided to start a separate del.icio.us page: gahrancomments. There, I’m now storing and tagging links to blog entries to which I’ve posted comments. Like all del.icio.us pages, this one offers its own feed which I’ve now syndicated to the righthand sidebar of CONTENTIOUS. (See right and scroll down to: My Most Recent Comments.)
(UPDATE: My friend Koan Bremner just pointed out to me how I can accomplish this within my existing del.icio.us page, which is a simpler solution. So I’ll implement that later. Right now, I have to catch a flight to BlogHer!)
Why comment in other people’s blogs?…
Many people have remarked that the tone of blog postings is generally informal and conversational. Often, however, people overlook the fact that conversation (rather than monologues) is what makes weblogging such a vital medium.
Here’s how that works:
- Initial post: Blogger X posts an item which offers advice on, say, how to negotiate a freelance editing contract.
- Initial response: I respond to compliment her on her contribution to the public base of knowledge on that topic. I also raise a question about a related issue, and point out that my experience differs somewhat from hers a factor which may influence the relevance of her advice to specific people.
- Blogger followup: Blogger X responds to address my question, and to ask a question of her own to better understand the differences in our experiences on the topic.
- General conversation:More people (some bloggers, some not) post comments of their own which explore various aspects of issues raised by the post and my ensuing exchange with Blogger X.
- Expanded conversation: Blogger Y post a comment noting that he’s taken up this thread in a new posting to his own weblog, and he provides a link to that posting. Soon other bloggers (and podcasters) follow suit, each adding her or his own perspective. Each posting generates its own bit of conversation in the comments.
- Moving beyond blogs: Eventually, these postings start to get referenced in online discussion forums (such as e-mail lists), on non-blog web sites, and even in some stories published by mainstream media (whether online or not).
Since online content never really dies, the result is a collective work that will be a useful resource for years or decades to come for freelance editors and others interested in that topic.
WHY FOLLOW ONE PERSON’S COMMENTS?
First of all, I created my page of links to comments I’ve made primarily for my own use. If someday the infrastructure of the web develops so it’s easy for me to find, in one place, all the comments I’ve ever made, then I’ll probably let this effort lapse.
My best ideas often arise during conversation. This includes the conversational aspect of weblog commenting. It’s helpful for me to remember insights and questions that occur to me, regardless of how they arise. Therefore, my del.icio.us comments page is the newest part of my “backup brain.”
That said, I imagine it’s possible that some people might be interested to see what I’ve been saying in other parts of the web.
But even more importantly, by syndicating my most recent postings to the CONTENTIOUS sidebar my intent is to:
- Clue people in that there’s an interesting discussion going on somewhere with the implicit invitation that they too can participate
- Highlight interesting content produced by other bloggers but in a more compelling way than simply posting a link.
…Anyway, it’s an experiment. We’ll see how it works. What do you think of this idea? Please comment below.