Victus Spiritus


The Promise of Telepresence, the Reality of Blogs, and Scaling Problems

22 Jun 2010

We are hardwired to understand subtle social signals. Complimenting the innate, there are complex forms of social pattern recognition learned as children that our minds instantly identify. A faint look of disinterest, a momentary glossiness of the eyes, and a muffled sigh all are immediately signals that a person has lost interest in a conversation topic. None of these instant feedback signals are available to web publishers and a merging of regular web logs with real time video feedback could provide valuable utility.

Blog Posts: A story is spun and left open

For bloggers the message may be reporting, analysis, or opinionated hypotheses followed by supporting evidence. The topics are intentionally left open in hopes of elucidating expert and amateur interpretation. The comments enrich a raw topic and help guide future post topics with unanswered questions. Personal blogs by people with interesting day jobs* have an anchor of realism attached to their tales. The blog isn't just a soapbox or marketing tool, it's an extension of the author's beliefs and thoughts. Blog's are an invitation for intelligent discourse, the origin of asynchronous conversations.

Popular and Relevant aren't cut from the same cloth

Popular news sites aggregate authors and begin by trying to cover as much of a narrow topic as resources allow. Over time with site growth the conversations in comments are replaced by a "scan and move on" approach by most readers. As much as I enjoy a good post by Mike Arrington, MG Siegel, or Marshall Kirkpatrick I don't expect them to regularly engage with readership much. We have to understand these folks are sometimes writing many posts a day, or busy doing vital business development. This means not much time if any time is left open for conversing with potentially hundreds of commenters under their deluge of posts. Modern blog aggregators have moved away from a social model towards the broadcast news model with a smattering of comments from regulars in hopes of initiating something resembling a conversation or debate.

Even popular solo bloggers like Robert Scoble and Fred Wilson have growing comment streams that surpass their time to respond to. Commenters are left to talk among themselves, which is scalable. Blogs can evolve into topical social web platforms where content comes from an enthusiastic audience as long as shared value is embedded into the DNA of the model.

*= I'm sowing the seeds for a fascinating day job, where my heart and head are "all in". Building a startup and business who's culture is fueled by our teams sense of value is the prize.

This post was induced by Jason Kolb's Beyond Blogging brought to my attention via Louis Gray's share.