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Steve Shu


I just saw your post here after I had already responded in the comments section on my blog (

I'll reproduce the first half of my response here (since you asked 1 question here, but 2 questions on my blog) ...

/*begin snip*/
Thanks for the compliment. To your first question, I think that blogs, in general, are good for dovetailing with offline relationships. The benefits are similar to email in that communication can occur over time (asychronous) as opposed to having to happen at one instant. Additionally, blogs also help to archive and trace out a discussion. To the part of your question as specific to blog communities, I would say that in my experience to date, the communities that I've seen work tend to have more of a peer-to-peer collaborative nature to them (as contrasted to one where there is someone in the community that tends to be way more prominent than the others). I posted about one example here where a bank is trying to disseminate and discuss information about culture and leadership ( I also had a discussion last week with a major telcom vendor about using a blog intranet for sharing/discussing information about technology deployments - sort of serves as a knowledge base to complement the real-life workflows.
/*end snip*/


Hi Beth and Steve, thanks for showing me how the interaction can work! I'm new to blogs and did not realize the interactive nature.

I looks like it is a little confusing though where to answer to each other? So it is really the most appropriate medium for interactions? Or is it more for documenting personal learning journeys and then using it to refer to in other online discussion forums?



I'm so glad you commented here, I love your questions!

You're right that individual blogs are not necessarily as effective as forums are for ascychronous interaction for a number of reasons that we're discovering.

But, I think they might be good for "distributed conversations" that lead to enhance personal learning?

The distributed conversation snippets happen when a response can be left on the comments section, or a person can write their own response on their own blog and use "track" to link it to the original conversation.

And, there are the "blog communities" that can lead to some cross blog conversation.

Steve Shu

My general guidelines for conducting conversations on blog have been to leave comments on the post where the discussion originated. The problem with this solution on most platforms, is that people constantly have to check back to see whether there are any subsequent comments. People who leave comments are not automatically subscribed to a "thread of updates" (like on many bulletin boards for registered users).

Another primary option for continuing a conversation is to post a reply on one's own blog and to use a trackback. There are some that subscribe to a belief (e.g., Seth Godin) that blogs are so cheap these days that those ongoing conversations can be linked from one's own blog site as opposed to appearing in a comment section of a blog. For me, I use the trackback method if I have lengthly response and if it is tied to the theme of my personal blog. If one uses trackbacks, the conversation can be traced using tools like BlogPulse. You can see a traced discussion on a link embedded here ...

A third option (which can be complementary to the second option) is to use tags as Beth describes.

Most people will use option #1. Bloggers may use option #2. Advanced users probably use things like BlogPulse and option #3.

Nancy White

There are some tools that are designed to help you spot the distributed "conversation" in blogs - see for an example. Try clicking on the "trend this search" on the upper left.

See also:



I realized from reading your post that I lack discipline and impulse control! I think your process matches mine, but I never even thought about it before -- thanks for helping me this discovery.

I think method 2 is good for a dialogue between two bloggers and the tags might help bring in other voices.

I think maybe with more than around 5 or 6 people trying to carry on a cross-blog discussion, it might get confusing or too much work if one's blogging software doesn't have conversation features (e.g. the threaded alert).



Thanks for the pointer to ice rocket, I'm going to have to play it with ...

Have you used it to track conversations?

Also, thanks for the pointers to thread blog conversations ...

enough to keep from doing what I need to get done today -- smile

Steve Shu


Gotcha on the Icerocket link. I use Icerocket, but I've never noticed that trend button before. Thanks!

As for the BlogPulse link I provided, the tracing of a conversation is less distributed and more explicit. That is, if there is an explicit trackback, the BlogPulse tool maps out the entire tree structure of the conversation over time. BlogPulse also has a trending tool. I actually use PubSub for that kind of information.

All-in-all though, it is too bad there are so many tools in so many different places. I don't really have time to trace conversations that actively or even set up RSS monitors and alerts (except in some broad areas). I only use these tools when I'm looking for something specific.

I think the blogosphere really needs more passive tools that help maintain the conversations - just like Beth does when she emails me about a comment update.


I'm late here, because I'm swamped with "blogs as community" at work, but I wanted to say that these conversations were incredibly interesting and helpful. I just wish I had time to offer something "real to the discussion". Maybe next month when things have calmed down.

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