Web 2 Voice

Voice 2.0, VOIP, Social Media

Twitter, FriendFeed, Disqus and the lack of unity

One of the interesting things happening recently is the diffusion of conversations. When I first started using Twitter, I noticed that people were linking to their posts. Their followers would then send a reply commenting on the post. Those replies are part of the overall conversation. But they are not part of the blog post.

Soon after I started using Twitter, I also found FriendFeed. It’s somewhat similar to Twitter, but overall, it’s slightly better for conversations. How does it work? Let’s say you are the ego-free Robert Scoble and you see a post on Twitter’s Dev log that says one of the problems with scaling is that when users who have a lot of followers initiate a flurry of activity, it causes database backups. You write a blog post saying that Twitter is blaming you for their problems, and share that link with your 10,000 followers on FriendFeed. Now what happens? People comment on the blog. Other people comment on the shared post on FriendFeed. So again, we have multiple people commenting on one topic in (unfortunately) two conversations.

Fred Wilson wrote a post about this topic yesterday: Leaving the Instigator out. And today, Comment System Disqus (which I use for this blog), suggests a Commenter Bill of Rights.

The unifying theme about all of these topics is that with more and more communication methods available, there are exponentially more challenges to organize the discussions. Because what’s important (at least to me) is the overall conversation. A blog post in and of itself has value, but in the meritocracy of the Internet, it’s the whole conversation that has real value. And right now, we have one conversation that is fragmented in a million different ways.

At some point, the distribution method won’t matter. People will choose their client, their service, and everything will be pulled together. Ideally, the value of a Twitter or FriendFeed or Disqus will be in presenting interesting conversations to interested parties. In this interim period however, no one is doing a particularly good job of it.

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