The Future of Electronic Conversations: The Problem

Two months ago, I started using the Google Blogger instead of the LiveJournal Platform. I didn’t regret that choice until yesterday.

Several people who read my LiveJournal blog have told me that they didn’t like the move because it made it harder for them to post comments on my blog. And it is harder. But every time someone said this to me, I responded, “That’s cool—don’t worry about commenting. I know how many people read my blog thanks to Google Analytics.”

In other words, I was using the comments board as a tool for measuring readership. In doing so, however, I was forgetting what blogs are all about.

Even after those comments, prior to yesterday, to me a blog was just an article with the gratification of instant publishing. You write it, you post it, and you’re published. Your content is out there for the world to read.

Yesterday I realized that a blog is not an article. A blog is an electronic conversation.

A blog allows a person to compile his thoughts on a subject and make those thoughts available to a huge array of potential readers. It allows you to start a conversation with the world. What I’m saying is that the most important part of a successful blog is the comments board, not the entry itself.

Think about it. You’re at a bar, hanging out with a group of friends. One of your friends goes off on a long, vodka-fueled diatribe about the state of bipartisan politics in America today. It’s interesting, he makes some good points, but when he finishes, he hasn’t opened any doors for conversation. He’s just made a statement, speech. You and your friends are silent, counting the seconds until someone says something. You have this huge sense of relief when someone finally speaks, even if it’s a crude comment about the hot waitress.

Consider a different scenario. Someone says a few things about bipartisan politics, and they pose a few questions, express some uncertainty. Maybe they connect what they’re saying to several people in the group, or throw in an example about how the topic has affected them personally. Suddenly the topic is alive, moving, growing. It branches off into several conversations—people are thinking. People are debating. People are relating.

And it’s not just serious topics. It’s any topic. I wrote an entry yesterday that I consider a very easy topic of conversation. It’s light, it’s simple, but anyone could add onto that list of security devices. Someone might ask which one is the worst. Someone might say that they once got the worst migraine after watching an episode of The Nanny, and suddenly you have a side topic on migraines.

The problem is, the Google Blogger simple isn’t conducive for such conversations. The added hassle of having to log in is too much. Imagine if you had to log in and decode a message every time you wanted to make a comment to your friend at a bar. You’d stop talking, even if you had something to say.

But it’s not just Blogger. The vase majority of blogs have comments at the end of the entry, making them seem like an afterthought. They’re not an afterthought—they’re just as important as the entry!


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