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.