On blog comments and Twitter

I started Justinsomnia (during a bout of sleeplessness) with Blogger back in 2002. This was before blogs had built-in commenting functionality. Eventually third party apps came along (like Haloscan, YACCS) that added commenting, but I was reluctant. I didn’t want comments to compromise the integrity of my posts.

After my friends began to add comments to their blogs, I noticed a change in my reading behavior. Whereas my blog was static—it didn’t change unless I posted something new, my friends’ blogs were dynamic, changing throughout the day as people stopped by and left comments. As a result I started going back to their blogs more often to follow the conversation. Meanwhile my blog sat idle.

Eventually I caved. I added Haloscan comments to my blog a year and a half after starting it. My blog survived. And comments grew to be one of my favorite parts of the medium. After all, I’m human. I love the contact, validation, support, questions, and feedback they bring.

Which brings me to Twitter. At one point during the CM Summit, Evan Williams was comparing Twitter with other communication channels, and he said “it’s the fastest way to get a message to a lot of people. Unlike broadcast, it’s two-way.”

This is a remarkably simple statement, but it really struck me. To most outsiders, Twitter seems a little pointless. But they’re usually judging each tweet in isolation, disconnected from the larger Twitterstream. When you start thinking about it being a discrete part of a larger conversation, you start to see where the value is.

It occurred to me later that Twitter takes the best part of blogging, the comments, and dispenses with the posts. (No wonder it kills blogs!) When you think about it that way, it sounds more natural, and certainly more conversational than blogging. Blogging is also a one-to-many communication channel, but the aspects that made it two-way (comments, trackbacks, aggregators) were all gnarly hacks bolted on after the fact. With Twitter, the two-way is built-in.

3 Comments

Anon

Me again, I’ll try to be briefer this time. A little twitter.
I agree with you about blogs, that comments are the best part of blogging. 100% agree, I live for the comments, the endless scroll through the responses and replies, arguments and misunderstandings, every now and then to find hidden gems of information. But comments need something to comment upon and without that they mostly become the mindless babblings of banality. An infinite loop of comments on comments about comments and for comments sake and I’m not sure I buy it, maybe I need to try it. The twitters are twitting or tweeting or whatever and increasing the stream of …twitterstream…
“a discrete part of a larger conversation” I like that line, that’s a fine thought. Like I say maybe I need to try it.

So… when are you going to start twittering? :)

Twitter helps me make sense of the ocean of information out there by receiving referrals on good content. It also acts as a hive mind to answer questions. Because it a speedy two way conversation medium it helps me connect with people when time is short.

Right now the social network I’m part of on Twitter is really driving people to my new business too. I still blog now but mainly on my biz site for less time sensitive items. I just don’t have the critical mass of people reading my blog to do the same thing as Twitter.

Hope you start using Twitter Justin so we can keep up with what your up-to RIGHT NOW. :) We want to know!

Anon

actually it seems twitter is broken so you couldn’t join right now even if you wanted to. don’t ask how i know

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