Monthly Archives: April 2008

How we knit the webosphere together – lessons so far

This is outta character, but I’m reposting a comment I made on the Broadstuff (aka Broadsight’s Alan Patrick’s) blog within the last hour, with a few corrections…

Here’s the original post: Bitchin’ About Aggregator posts on Techmeme

To recap on Broadstuff’s key points:

“In essence the issue discussed is… that these aggregators are taking commenting and all that away from the blogs, and “the conversation” is happening elsewhere

… here’s my thesis; anyone who wants to talk to the blogger will probably do it on the blog still, or on a social network they use.

… all these Feedread type aggregator plays that are trying to create their own platforms are medium term f*cked (no matter how much PR $5m can buy) as any form of large scale service – they are just too disjointed…

… Maybe what would be more useful than a Friendfeed downstream aggregator is a “reverse aggregator”, where people who want to comment on any one of these media can do so and it pops up on the blog page, allowng other commentators on other aggregators to see the conversation.”

Here’s my verbose response (but it’s a mammoth issue – my lame excuse)

(1) Initially, in terms of connecting blogosphere conversation together there was trackback, but then along came the traditional publishers and they couldn’t deal with the (spam / gaming) issues, nor incorporate the lessons of online communities’ design or etiquette so far. Thus the promise held out by trackback (see Nico Macdonald, ‘Comment is Free,’ but designing communities is hard, Online Journalism Review, 17th July 2006) was quashed.

(2) Then trackback spam arrived (your favourite Alan) – possibly the final nail in the coffin of trackback’s potential (if we agree pingbacks are the watered-down substitute).

(3) In turn, beyond mere feed readers, more sophisticated aggregators like Netvibes and other “thin portal[s] of widgets” (to quote Mike Butcher on a post about Sleevenotez he wrote on Vecosys, since deleted by the blog owner) entered the arena, along with cross-platform microblogging. The social web and mobile stuff more generally – rather than just the blogosphere – at least became more manageable [see also Jaiku, though it’s gone quiet since Google acquired it late in 2007, and interesting lifestream propositions like Rememble].

(4) But before we could take a breath, social networks went zoom, and we were pouring tons of valuable-to-trivial content, discussion and links (it’s all a continuum, right) into the likes of Facebook and Bebo. But it was hellish-difficult/impossible to connect this back out to the open internet, the ahead of its time [and much lamented] BlogFriends for pouring back in-and-out notwithstanding.

(5) Now we have the next wave of aggregators: Friendfeed, favorit, Plaxo’s Pulse feature, the recently souped-up MyBlogLog et al.

(6) And hot on their tails – for the blogerati – Cocomment, Disqus, SezWho, and IntenseDebate became part of the equation, some of whom even have social network integration in their pipeline apparently 🙂 [my, that sounds rather painful]

(7) This doesn’t even factor in the photo and video outfits out there – Seesmic, Qik, Flickr video, Google Video, Vimeo, BlipTV [gratuitous interview and Beers & Innovation RSS Frontiers video linkage], Moblog and the like; especially the cross-platform players among them. Who has even mentioned or interrogated their part in the connected web in this month’s discussion? Yep, time to remove the old-skool web goggles.

So now that the conversation has left the blogosphere [ReadWriteWeb, 20th March 2008] where does that leave us?

If the walled garden is crumbling, but our attention is ever more stretched, and our conversational quality and digital health suffering, is the model of aggregating eyeballs doomed or due for a fresh lease of life from the most innovative but implacably dominating mover in this space?

And / or in biz parlance, has the reverse aggregator got legs?

I’d love to hear what folks think about all or any of this. Then I can go back to knitting or eating chocolate to calm down – apparently that’s what works for people who aren’t bona fide geeks and are seen to be interrogating stuff above their station, or asking questions that are difficult. Who knew? Go experts! 😉

—————-

PS. All of which makes me even more convinced that the questions we asked in London (and the blogosphere – joint blog by Mike Butcher + Deirdre Molloy) in June 2006 at the NMK Content 2.0 conference, which I co-organised with NMK co-worker Nick Watt, still haven’t been seriously addressed.

PPS. So much for the networked age!

PPPS. Buce Sterling on why the interweb’s a mess 🙂

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