I posted this over here a few days ago, to resounding silence, which could be due to the fact that a) it’s bollocks, b) no one cares, c) no one read it or d) a combination of the three. But since I’m nothing if not pigheaded, and it gelled a couple of things for me in my mind about both the questions of identity that were doing the rounds recently and the cross-blog conversations idea that I’ve gone on about before, I’m going to cross-post it here. Because I can, and because I like feedback, even though I am a little gunshy tiptoeing through the backdoor back into Smart Person Land. Still, forward!
I’d add to what Shelley and David have said about ThreadNeedle and blogs, just off the top of my head, my take on it : that in the online ‘asynchronous discussion communities’ that Dan mentioned below in /m106, you have represented yourself through the things you say and have said in that community. There may have been an additional body of work, but this was secondary to the text-representation of yourself that accreted, word by word, as a result of your participation. My personal example of this would be my participation at Metafilter over the last couple of years.
This is a trivial observation, I know. But your avatar was effectively yourself as you chose to represent yourself via your comments and conversations.
When we talk about a weblog, though, I think it’s profitable to talk about two separate entities created as an adjunct of our online presence, at least the one that derives from the weblog itself : the (for lack of a better word) publication and the person.
Now certainly, the ‘publication’ is a mirror, to whatever extent, of the person writing it. We see many weblogs that stop here at this point, that have no commenting systems enabled, or that pay little attention the ‘community’, that are traditional web logs (ie collections of links with minimal commentary) or diaries or photoblogs or warblogs or god knows what…but that are intended less as manifestations of the person behind them than publications about that person or their interests.
Another dimension, though, comes in with weblogs that have comment threads, that encourage and participate in conversations with other weblogs/webloggers. In this situation, the weblog not only becomes a publication about something (which might, in the case of more diarist-type blogs, be the person who is writing it) but a representation, an avatar of that person. The weblog itself becomes an active extension of the weblogger’s identity (I wish I’d thought about this during the recent conversations around the blogs about ‘identity’. Ah well.) The weblog is something that is carried with them (or is an extension of their identity online…? I’m not sure about this bit at all), and the cross-blog conversations that occur as a result of this, in posts and their comment threads, are in a way a new and larger version of the sort of discussion types we’re historically used to, that Dan mentioned in his earlier post. A version that carries a body of work, a more deliberate one, along with the community member.
Does this make sense? I’m riffing here, and I have to admit that I haven’t read David’s book yet, so the sort of thing I’m trying to get a handle on (and communicate at the same time) might be old news.
Anyway (*takes a breath*) – I see these weblogs, the blogs that are not only ‘publications’ about something but also representations of the personality behind the words (and are this way because the weblogger has comments threads and/or engages in cross-blog conversations in their main posts and/or blogrolls people (the use of the word ‘people’ here is deliberate) as an acknowledgment of community), avatars that engage in conversation, to be the audience at which Shelley‘s ThreadNeedle is aimed. And I think (hope) that the service might be a major step forward, if it reaches critical mass.
(Also, don’t forget to add your two bits to the conversation about Threadneedle still going on here.)