Since I started this blog, I’ve been having issues with how to manage audience: most of what I want to say is reactions to someone else’s remarks; there is far less readers of this blog then people reading the comments thread of O’Reilly, Batelle or Carr’s blog — so I have always been tempted to comment and let this blog wait for my original inputs; but by leaving them custody, the consistency of my remarks might only appear to the empty over-lapping set or readers of all. I could (and have) link-bait but it doesn’t work, anymore at least — and thank God for that. There is no way for me to organise, value and use my comments the same way that blog can be used as a draft, a note pad. For one, there is hardly any feed back to my remark — and whenever their is they are too hard to track. Some blogs offer comment threads, but those a not convenient.
The inconsistency might come from a disonnance among the early or professional bloggers: all mention “conversation” but it’s never clear if it is done through comments or reply blog posts — most likely both, of course. That however does allow them to neglect a detail: some do not have a blog well-known enough to come and comment with the strong identity needed to make constructive arguments. I’m glad that people are judged by what they say, not where they are saying it — but this actually devalues commenters.
Companies like Disqus are trying to adress that by integrating all comments — but short of a compatible technologies, or even whort of showing a structured portrait of each commenter, neglecting who is behind corrections won’t turn out of habits.
I might get a larger audience by writing in French (even have a twin-blog for that): many more have reactions by translating ideas — but I still beleive not enough people make the effort to show to the world that some good internet research in done outside of the iLabs, in spite of meager means, if only to tell apart what results from there is true among American, Western or English-speaking users. You can see a theme there: I’m not confortable with the room left for critics when publishing is made so easy; neither am I with an bling-folded enthusiasm about how opening a blog will make you famous, when attention is so concentrated. There is a merit in sorting insights from intuition, and this work should be valued and made visible.
Don’t tell me that I’m wrong to be pickish and crave for validation from amazingly brillant people with an excessive number of followers: the largest audience of this blog by far (several orders of magnitude beyond what I’m used to if you want to ask) was not when I corrected one of the afore-mentionned pundit, but when he acknowledged it.
I make a parallel between posts and comments and papers and remarks made during a seminar: there are two levels, and the lower is not valued.
Spending some time in Oxford, I could access some papers that I’ve wanted to check for a long time: having though about the summary made the papers that referred to them, I gave those enough though-cycles to find significant concern — in peer-review articles, that is. The net results is that I don’t know what to do about a (now dead) senior academic being a bit bold in one remark in a paper published in a second-rate paper (now disappeared) before I was born. I’m really bothered by this general attitude that science has to be built, brick by brick, rather then carved with Okham’s razor, cut like a jewel into something where —to paraphrase St-Exupéry— not nothing more needs to be added, but nothing more need to be removed.
Do bloggers need to write posts, academics article — and I am arguing to reduce that? Yes. How will this could be as vivid, with less? By including the remarks and comments in the count, by encouraging people to specifically reply to what you do, and let third parties vote up the relevance of one comment; by letting readers decide if something is worth mentionning dynamically, not put an instituonal self-selected frontier. Collaboration is not fostered if repect for an orinigal idea is at the price of not openly offering improvement.