Simon Willison’s Weblog


A global conversation

19th January 2003

Dave Winer on TrackBacks and push backs (and presumably PingBack as well):

I’m old school. I think the cool thing about weblogs is that they are not discussion groups or mail lists. If I want to know what all the people are saying there are ways to do that, but very often I’m content to read email and a few weblogs that I trust. Personally I don’t think there’s gold in them thar hills, but of course I’ve been wrong before.

I think Dave has missed the boat on this one by a long way. Just the other day I realised that weblogs (or at least the one’s I read) are essentially a huge global conversation. Anyone can join in, but the price of entry is having your own blog and something interesting to say. With those two pre-requisites the social network of the blogosphere does the rest—people will see what you have to say via random browsing, links on other blogs, TrackBack return links and so forth and before you know it your (useful) opinion will be being read by people who normally you wouldn’t communicate with in your entire lifetime.

Mark Pilgrim knows this, and his Recommended Reading and Automatic Linkback tools provide him with an excellent way of participating in the global conversation. Dave Winer, as a contrast, appears to treat his blog as read-only—no comments, no trackbacks. There’s nothing wrong with this (how someone runs their blog is a very personal thing) but I can’t help but think that by doing so Dave is missing out on a truly remarkable example of the two way web in action.

So that’s my rant. Unfortunately, seeing as I’m unlikely to feature on Dave’s “few weblogs” that he trusts the chances are he’ll never read it. Çe la vie.

This is A global conversation by Simon Willison, posted on 19th January 2003.

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