The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

March 28, 2007


A paper that I'm currently writing has me thinking about weblogs again. One, the diminishing posting frequency on weblogs all around me (and, let's admit it, here too) has led me to believe that the golden days of weblogging might be over. Sadly, I'm not saying this as somebody who jumped the hype, but as somebody who started a website only to discover that he was actually writing a weblog. It therefore struck me as some kind of surprise when only a few days ago, I stumbled across two article, the first of which claims that weblogs are the ideal marketing tool, and the second says that weblogs are becoming increasingly relevant because webloggers are apparently "investigative multipliers". Um.

Anyway, in this paper I am trying to single out strategies for using weblogs in libraries, despite the fact that I see their importance dwindling. Today, I wrote some 1200 words on the significance on comments and trackbacks, and noticed how their significance seems to have changed.

Even Dave Winer, the controversial semi-guru of weblogging changed his position between 2003, when he claimed that comments were a defining element of weblogs, to 2007, when he says that they're not really all that important.

So what about the interactivity, the writer-reader communication interface? Was the fact that a weblog allowed on-the-spot discussion of a topic not one of the things that made weblogs different from the rest of the web-based applications?

I am wondering what sidelined comments (and trackbacks, by the way) so much, and the main suspects seem to be two things:

First, comment/trackback spammers, who forced many bloggers to switch off or at least restrict access to the comment and trackback functionality. Whether the subsequent sidelining of these functionalities is the result of rationalising this decision or whether it stems from the realisation that blogs can survive without them is open to discussion.

Second, wikis and other forms of interactive web publications may have taken over this functionality from weblogs as they seem to be more suited for discussion.

But overall, the interconnection between weblogs seems to have become looser. People have been removing or reducing blogrolls, comments are often not available, and as a result the often cited "community" quality of weblogs seems to be waning away. I guess part of the reason for people losing interest in their own blog is that they are finding fewer interesting other blogs due to this symptom.

I also may be totally wrong here. If you wish to add your 2 cents, the comment space for this weblog entry is open.

Posted by Horst on March 28, 2007 10:04 PM to metablogging | Tell-a-friend

walt crawford said on March 28, 2007 11:03 PM:

I'm going to suggest an alternative, at least as far as library-related blogs are concerned. I think they may be in the process of becoming more relevant--because they're less "hot" and the frequency of posts is declining.

Let me amplify that a bit (noting that I'll save your post and followups, because this is an interesting question that deserves thought). I'm seeing a general decrease in quantity, but I think I'm also seeing a general increase in quality. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I think not. That also involves a newer breed of bloggers, people who would have either not started or given up earlier because they just weren't ready to do a post a day or whatever--but who do have interesting, thoughtful things to say once a month or once a week or when the thought strikes.

As for comments--well, there too, I'm seeing fewer "you go!" comments and, I think, more comments that further serious discussion. At least I think I am.

As for trackbacks, I agree there: Spam pretty much destroyed the usefulness. I never allowed them and I've never missed them.

Sorry for the long comment. You've got me thinking: Always a good thing (at least for me!)

dieter said on March 29, 2007 02:53 PM:

I would never keep a blog of my own, but I love posting comments whenever "the thought strikes", and I am really pissed when it is not possible or only after some tedious registration procedure. You can argue that I am not a typical blog reader but for me, comments still are the juice to them.

library mistress said on March 30, 2007 11:17 AM:

After some introspection, I received the impression that the frequency of comments declines also because of the proliferation of feed readers - using those, there is one more step between reading a weblog entry and commenting. What do you think?

Jann said on April 12, 2007 03:56 AM:

Much as I like to write comments, I enjoy equally reading other people's. When I read your archives, Horst, as I do sometimes (I only discovered this blog a year ago, so I missed a lot), I always read your entries with the comments that go with them. Interesting and entertaining as your posts are, it's more fun to read them along with the feedback from your readers. And I think fun is a big part of this! You said yourself when Haldur Gislufsson interviewed (your archives, 20 Oct 2002), that you were blogging "for the fun of it," and that you would continue to blog "as long as it's fun." When your readers interact with each other and/or you join them in the comments section, it adds another dimension to the interest/entertainment/fun...well all three I think. Also I learn things, and I expect that others do too...Obviously I think comments are important. Essentially you could say that I agree with the last phrase of dieter's comment.

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