Set Me Straight

Isn’t at least part of the power of blogging supposed to be that it is a conversation? Maybe I’m off base here, I’m fairly new to blogging … but I often don’t see the conversation (of course there are great conversations at times). I see many posts where someone or several people have commented and posed a question or made a point that begs a reply from the blogger to keep the conversation going and to clarify the bloggers thinking … and no response ever comes. I know you can’t respond to every comment, but maybe a general response when you’ve gotten 10 or 20 or 30 comments? Several times bloggers have requested input for a presentation they are about to give and they often get many thoughtful responses that obviously took time to compose … and almost never a word about how the presentation went. Now don’t get me wrong, I know people are very busy and this can’t always happen, but it doesn’t seem to happen enough. I also know that some responses are done privately in an email, but I don’t think that is happening in most of the examples I’ve given. It just seems like a lot of valuable conversation gets lost. I realize that no one has to reply to a comment, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this also, but I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a conversation. Was I wrong???? Or maybe there is more conversation than I am aware of? Just wondering.

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11 Responses to Set Me Straight

  1. Tom Hoffman says:

    You’re right. The “conversation” is over-hyped. In fact, one of the strengths of blogging is that it is NOT as much of a conversation as a mailing list or message board.

  2. Doug Noon says:

    Tom has it right. Conversation is a bad metaphor for this. There was a computer game called Cannon Fodder that reminds me of blogging. Blogs are like cannons. Comments are like small arms (which wasn’t part of the game), where you can get in close and hit your target directly. Blogging is a declarative medium. It’s broadcasting, except with comments, when it’s becomes merely proclamatory. I’m still practicing, and I miss a lot.

  3. Brian says:

    Thanks, Tom and Doug – I guess I’ve noticed too many times when someone posts “… there’s a great “conversation” going on over at so and so’s blog about ….” and when you get there it’s just comments – which are fine in their own way – but that’s not a conversation – not give and take. Also when edubloggers sing the praises of blogging they almost always talk about how it’s about the conversations that happen. Well they do happen, but they don’t seem to be the norm. I’m not saying that blogging has no value then … but maybe we should stop promoting blogs as conversational if mostly they really aren’t. Maybe Skypecasts and the like are better suited to conversations. But Doug if I recall your internet connection doesn’t support that kind of thing – bummer.

  4. Tony Karrer says:

    Hmmm … I think I have a different take on this. Blogs are a little akward in their format for conversations (you lose the thread the next post on the same topic), but it’s really up to the author and the audience to make it happen. I personally completely want to get comments on my blog and I feel that I’m pretty responsive to most comments. My only complaint is that I sometimes post things where I ask for comments and don’t get them. On the other hand, a couple of times I’ve received great input:

    eLearning 1.0 vs. 2.0 – Help Needed

    So, “conversation is over-hyped” – I disagree. I think that there can be conversation. There can also be just a stream of comments. Hang-on, were not accidentally having a conversation here are we? Did the blog author respond? ;)

  5. Jo McLeay says:

    Wow, Brian, you’ve started something here. People use conversation in the same breath as connections, and while the give and take of conversation may not be there in blogs (although it is there in the live webcasting that happens at Edtech Talk) the connections are definitely there. We do get to see how others are thinking and when you are in a country like Australia it is great to get that sort of sense of a wider world. Not that Australia doesn’t have many fine things happening – it does, but I love the sense of “listening in” on global conversations. You have put out a call for people to comnnect more I think, a very timely one. There should more interactivity.

  6. Bronwyn says:

    Brian, I think it depends how we define ‘conversation’. I don’t have time to compose responses often to the blogs I read, but there certainly is a lively ‘conversation’ going on in my head as a result of reading the ones I do, and the exposure to others’ thinking, ideas, experiences, and reflections. I think that’s an important aspect of blogging that we shouldn’t underrate – even if we don’t see a lot of evidence of it!

    I’ve only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks, but I have benefitted from it and there have been thoughts buzzing in my head as a result. So, although you’ve only seen one side of that, there has been ‘conversation’ of sorts!

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and reflections on teaching and learning.

  7. Interesting question… I think Bronwyn makes a good point about how we define conversation. Certainly, I’m guilty of not responding to comments, or, now that I think about it, responding via email and ending the conversation there. But often when I read something interesting, it makes me want to write more about it myself, which is where the conversation takes off… it’s more like concentric circles, I suppose.

  8. Doug Noon says:

    Brian, I had to work for this comment. I hope you appreciate it.

    Since you mentioned my “problem” with pod/skype/vlog casting and the like… Yes I have a slow connection at home which neither love nor money will fix. Unless I set up my own dish, and even then I’m not sure. That ain’t gonna happen anyway. If I try to download anything over 10mb it’s a project. AND then I have to listen to the damn thing to find out if I want to know what it’s about! So I saw a mention of my blog in one of these sessions and curiosity got the best of me. I clicked on it and went to bed. It takes half a night’s sleep for stuff like that to download. While having my coffee in the morning and reading different stuff on the computer I listened to a fascinating conversation about….I can’t even remember now. I missed any mention of me in it. I replayed it by skipping around through likely places to see if I could maybe figure out where I came in during a conversation that had nothing to do with me. As I recall, Shareski tossed out a question like…”Wasn’t it on Doug Noon’s blog where the kids emailed another class about seeing a moose outside the window… Well, no. It wasn’t. That was it.

    I put in a hell of a lot of work for that. To find the link to it I had to page through a bunch of stuff on technorati. I’m grateful for the attention that Borderland gets, but the benefits of constant conversation are a conversation subject in themselves.

    I enjoy monitoring the world. And it’s pretty cool to be able to speak my mind and hear an echo. I wouldn’t call that a conversation, exactly. I still think it’s more of a declarative medium – with a powerful reverb.

    While I was scrounging around trying to nail down that link I visited the Sceptic’s Log on Artichoke’s wiki. There’s something more like conversation going on there, than I usually see on blogs. Wiki’s might work for conversation better than blogs. They’re less structured. Real conversation isn’t structured.

    This exchange is almost a conversation, I think. But if it was really a conversation, we’d know it, wouldn’t we? :)

    I enjoy your blog. Carry on.

  9. Diane Quirk says:

    I like Doug’s description of blogging as broadcasting. We broadcast our thoughts and ideas. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes there’s not. But we continue broadcasting, just as some of our newscasters continued to broadcast during some of our most recent horrific events, hoping that someone would get the message and the message would spread in whatever other ways that it could. Thanks for this really great question Brian. You’ve asked something that will help of all of us to continue developing our understanding of the nature and use of this tool.

  10. Pingback: Learning Is Messy - Blog » Blog Archive » Blogs Are Conversation, But Conversation That Varies In Intensity And Purpose

  11. Mark Ahlness says:

    Jumping in late here Brian, because I’ve been so busy CONVERSING in web 2.0. Where it happens is pretty interesting. And it is changing. An example is my school’s wiki and the PTSA discussion list. I set them both up this summer, but right now they are taking off! There is this algae bloom of conversation, and part of that talk is about “now, exactly where is the best place to say this?” People are cross posting, just to be sure the word gets out. By FAR the most active part of the wiki is the discussion forum – I think because it is immediate. Snag the rss feed, and you’re close to realtime, IM stuff. That’s what folks are looking for, that’s the future, I think – and the wiki can bring it.

    But what about the blog?! I moderate several email lists, have so for some time. It’s been very interesting to watch where the real conversation and information is happening right now. I used to say to myself that the day I woke up and went to my Bloglines Notifier before I went to my email accounts on Outlook would be a sign that there had been a major shift in the way the world works. Right now I’m on the cusp of that shift, it’s about 50-50.

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