Conversations or not

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The Economist carried a story on Blogging. And the bottomline was:

Blogging is just another word for having conversations

Tom Raftery wrote a few days back that in his blog that Blogging was starting to become monologous as some of the most popular bloggers closed down/moderate comments.

And this is what Guy Kawasaki had to say regarding comments:

7. Acknowledge and respond to commenters. Only good things can happen when you read all the comments in your blog and respond to them. It makes commenters return to your blog. This, in turn, makes commenters feel like they are part of your blog’s community which makes them tell more people to read your blog.

It is rather ironical that comments are not “wanted” anymore, because in the early days of blogging, comments were an indication of how popular a blog was! With the advent of feed readers and trackbacks, popular bloggers have decided to shut down a window; one crucial channel of communication, blaming it on the trolls. Added to that, we have spams, word-verifications, comment moderations resulting ultimately in conversation-killers. Sad and sorry state, indeed. As Tom Raftery rightly asks:

how can we now seriously evangelise the benefits of having comments enabled when some of the most prominent bloggers have theirs locked down?

Instant Messaging: Simplified.

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A few days back, I remember writing this. Then, Meebo announces a Single Sign-on, amongst other things. (via) The problem of Gtalk not having an Invisible mode seemed to bother a few people, but Meebo settles that issue. Also users having several accounts with the same IM service provider – say 3 Yahoo accounts each having a different list of contacts, a Meebo user can sign in to all of them simultaneously (and invisibly, if necessary). The tool tips indicating user status is pretty cool – instead of having an indecipherable icon (say, for “Timed Out”) and a truncated Status message. People love to customize that field, and it’s often a sorry sight to see a long status message (and people’s creativity) getting truncated due to space constraints.
The best thing that could be said about Meebo’s new set of feature release is that Sign up is a simple three step process – no activation or other irritating procedures. Much like our own Zoho’s Sign Up, which requires only three fields to be filled and no e-mail based activation. Like they say at Meebo blog, not having e-mail verification or complicating the Registration procedure is way of building friendship with the users. If there are two services with similar features, of which one has a lengthy sign up process and one doesn’t, people would rather save time and key strokes by signing up for the latter.

From the response they’ve been getting, it looks like Meebo might be the next thing that Corporate Firewalls will target. :) Add Conference Calling/ Group Chat facilities inside Meebo, and it could be one of the most chased after web based service in recent times.

Overbrain: Or can the web be “intelligent”?

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I happened to read an editorial in Febrauray issue of Digit magazine the crux of which was “how can the web be intelligent”. And more importantly, the article started of with a familiar example – “Customers who bought this also bought” section in Amazon.com. When I first chanced upon Amazon a couple of years ago, I was drawn to this feature like how . It was a great place for book recommendations, and in many cases it worked out fine for me.

Back then the web wasn’t run by people, like it’s today. There weren’t any web-apps developer or a personal database which is, well, more personal than a website like Amazon. Then slowly blogs and tagging evolved. And to the relief of a lot of people, web-apps can be created in no time. It seems almost true that the internet contains information about anything under the stars.
Which presents the most important problem of Information Overload. A couple of months back, I entered a search query concerning something and got a zilch response. But a few days back, I accidentally stumbled upon what I was looking for. My joy knew no bounds on hitting the jackpot accidentally. But it also made me crib for it had been there all along and I’d wasted a good three months in searching. Not that my search skills are that bad, (even if I enter the same query now, I get no results). They are not what they have to be.

Let’s assume this hypothetical case. I’m looking for information on a particular group who will be performing at the local theatre. I enter their name, I get no results. Not even “are you looking for” suggestion. I tend to feel that their company isn’t adjusting too well to the internet boom. Later on, I almost accidentally stumble upon the group’s blog, and going through their archives, I come to know that they’ve indeed been existing in the virtual world for a long time, that my search query should have landed me here by all means. What happened to me was nearly similar to this situation.

This calls for a need to orgainze content better. The article from “Digit” calls for a “People who visited this website also visited the following other website(s)” method. This is okay as a next step to better search. Like Del.ico.us. But given the number of websites and tag clouds, it is testing the limits of exhaustion on the readers part. Whether an algorithm can handle this or human intervention is required at all stages, only the researches can answer. As a person who searches the web for information almost everyday I’ll get a sense of absolute satisfaction only when I enter a search query like, “Is tomorrow a Friday”, and get a reply, “Yes, TGIF”.

Edited to Add:

(1) In fact I was thinking of Thandora when I wrote this.

(2) TGIF means “Thank Goodness it’s Friday”, which, for most people, is a relief.