The Kraken mails

The brain of a gamer

The commentsphere: Why can’t blog posters archive their comments?

Daniel R. Luke, one of this blog’s readers and frequent posters, recently emailed me to point out an interesting asymmetry in the blogosphere: People who post lots of comments to blogs have no way of easily assembling, re-reading, or presenting their epistolary output. Then he unleashed an incredibly sharp idea:

Comments should be searchable. I should be able to aggregate all comments I or someone else has left on a particular blog. Ideally, this should
span the entire blogosphere so that I could aggregate all the comments I have left on all blogs. It would be easy, then. to see where people go and what they say. This way the audience of the blogosphere would be much more empowered. In essence, I wouldn’t necessarily have to start my own blog to, in effect, have a blog of sorts.

This is a brilliant concept, and one that could add a wild new dimension to the blogosphere. Maybe there could be an online service — much like, say, Typepad — that allows you to quickly set up a comment-blog that will automatically aggregate your comments and present ‘em, like a blog of its own? Another way to do it would be to tinker with RSS so that one could allow RSS agregators to “tune in” to the postings of a particular poster. (Is that latter concept already possible? I don’t know enough about RSS to tell.)

However, I can say this: Comments are often some of the most interesting things about a good blog, and people who are prodigious commenters are following in a grand literary tradition. I’d be fascinated to see all their comments in one place, as a literary artifact. It’d also open up interesting new ways to explore blogs, since a commenter is an interestingly organic thread connecting various and sundry blogs together. Imagine surfing blogs by reading an item, finding a particularly smart comment, then being able to see all the items that person has commented on at other blogs.

When I first read Daniel’s idea, I immediately thought of a name for it: the commentosphere.

As it turns out, a few other people have used the same term, though their thinking has gone only so far as the desire to create permanent links to individual comments, so that a blogger can point to a cool comment at another blog. But Daniel’s idea goes one smart quantum-step further. I would absolutely love to see some smart coder tackle this one.

(Thanks to Daniel for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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