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 …


RSSing Comment Conversations – I

Michele Martin of the Bamboo Project has asked in interesting question about “How Can We Facilitate Conversations BETWEEN Commenters on Our Blogs?

The post has some interesting responses…er…including mine. In some form or the other, most commentators do ‘converse’ with other commentators on a post — however it is all informal and unstructured. It is usually like, “I don’t agree with what X is saying though Y has an important argument about what Z wrote above, and my take is….” X, Y, and Z all being commentators on a post, i.e.

Christy Tucker makes an interesting point about the nature of blogs in that:

Part of it boils down to the fact that blogs really are designed more for the conversations around one person’s ideas than around each other’s ideas. Conversations that are really in-depth are often more suited to become actual posts, either on the original blog or on the commenter blogs. And blogs in general are more for parallel dialog than direct dialog;…

And I am in agreement — after all a blog is an individual’s take on topics — if there is a conversation that is to occur between many people then there is always the discussion forum. Sue, on the same post, notes an observation about what happens when a “thread” is implemented in place of comments.

RSS to the rescue?

WordPress has an interesting feature (now Blogger has it too, thought most ‘Bloggers’ haven’t implemented it), where it is possible to subscribe to a feed of the comments on a post (or the entire blog). If we go by Christy’s thought — which I completely agree with — and in-depth responses to posts are presented as posts on the commentators blog, then we have a small problem of tracking the entire conversation. What we have is a multiple posts as responses — and someone who is tracking the topic, now needs to go many places to see what people are responding.

Is it possible for RSS to become slightly more intelligent such that it tracks (a) the comments on Michele’s post, (b) the response posts to Michele’s post, and (c) the comments/responses to the response posts on Michele’s post?

As I write this, I am already imagining the load on my RSS reader — yet, am sure I don’t mind a bit of manual intervention to teach my reader where to stop.

What I am visualising is a very rich body of knowledge on that one topic/subject/thought which can be a relevant educational aid.

Guess we will have to wait for RSS 2.0