RSSing Comment Conversations – II

This is becoming really interesting.

Here is a representation of what I wrote hastily in the post below.


(Funny, that I was building this graphic, while Michele wrote her post, asking for one! Sue was also looking for a graphic, a tool actually, to draw her idea out). While this may help bring a larger conversation in context, I believe it also lends itself to create a body of knowledge (BoK). Before that, a few notes about this intelligent RSS and about the graphic:

We all subscribe to blogs, so we sure know how to to do that. We can also mark individual posts to track comments on them. (I know this happens in a few RSS readers – RSSBandit, for example, and I am missing it sorely since I shifted to a Mac).

Here is how I think this “Intelligent RSS” thing might work. (Apart from what RSSbandit is able to do, all the stuff hereafter is imaginary).

  1. In our RSS reader, we set up something called an “Intelligent Topic Feed”, or ITF. We pick a topic, Michele’s topic called “How Can We Facilitate Conversations BETWEEN Commenters on Our Blogs?” for example, and add it to the ITF called, let’s say, “Facilitating Conversations“.
  2. We set the ITF ‘depth’ to Level 1 (more about this level thing, in a minute).
  3. What the ITF now does is tracks all comments on Post 1 (see image). So all comments on Michele’s post are delivered to the RSS reader. Skelliewag’s idea still holds true and let’s assume that commentators are conversing with each other on the post.
  4. Then, Michele’s post gets a pingback (trackback).
  5. The ITF automatically adds the posts from the new blogs (e.g. the post on Kenfinity and Designing for Civil Society, viz, Post 2 and Post 3 in the image).
  6. The ITF now begins to track the comments on Post 2 and Post 3.
  7. As you would expect, there will be further pingbacks on Post 2 and Post 3. This is where setting the ‘depth’ of level comes in. For example, if I would have set the depth level to 2, the ITF would automatically add all the posts that link to Post 2 and Post 3. This has the potential to become unwieldy, therefore, the option to set the depth.
  8. (While we are imagining things) I could then be asked by the ITF if I would like to add further posts (manual setting) to the topic and I could then track a larger conversation. I could choose the posts that I want to track and leave the others for the “dumb” RSS to pull.

Potentially confusing, but I hope, it isn’t too confusing.

What has fascinated me about this idea is the potential about the thoughts that this ITF can contain. It has a chance of becoming a significant body on a particular topic and can be used as a learning aid.

If the RSS Reader becomes even smarter and is able to create a document about this topic …


2 thoughts on “RSSing Comment Conversations – II

  1. I like this graphic, Atul and it’s moving us closer–the level thing is definitely helpful.

    One problem I see is the issue of trackbacks and using that as the mechanism for notifying when another post comes up. I know that for myself I’m often terrible about pinging other sites. And I also know that often I don’t get trackbacks submitted when someone references my site–I find them through my Technorati feed or Google Alerts. So there would have to be some other mechanism for notifying when subsequent posts have been made. I don’t think we can rely on the pings.

    The other thought I have is that these conversations take place not just on blogs, but in other places as well. The original discussion about facilitating conversations between bloggers actually began in our Ning community and then I posted it on my blog. There was some good stuff said in that Ning conversation that doesn’t necessarily get added to the larger discussion. I think that as more and more of us are using multiple online channels for discussion (including networks, forums, Twitter, etc.) it would make sense if we could find a way to tie ALL of that together into a coherent whole.

    It may go back to what Beth Kanter is saying–that this is where human “weavers” come into play. We’re the ones who have to monitor and synthesize. Although I’d still love to find a way for technology to make my monitoring easier. :-)

  2. @Michele: Thank you. I see where you are coming from, and this problem is deeper than imagined. Incorporating other networks (FB and Ning, and such) makes it even more complicated. I guess, the ‘human aspect’ isn’t going away for a while.

    This needs some work! :)

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