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What Is The Blogosphere?

Most of us have answers to this question down pat…  What is hard is getting at the depth, richness and warmth of the blogosphere. Now I’m not getting all soft here but two things got me thinking about this.

First, I posted on the arrival last week of Sophia, our gorgeous little daughter. To date we’ve had a couple of hundred emails from folks including friends and family… through people we’ve worked with… to long-lost acquaintances.. through to folks I’ve never met in person but regularly exchange news and views with… through to folks I’ve never met but read my blog and are kind enough to post comments. In fact, the warm messages reaching us through the blogosphere and email are far exceeding traditional cards arriving in the mail.

Reflecting on this it really throws light on the blogosphere being a place for community and conversation. And that this is a pretty warm place (too often I’ve associated it with debate and expressions of point of view) – a place where people are genuinely interested in others and express that. Maybe it attracts that kind of person – not everyone is up for such open expression in public forums.

And this is what makes the blogosphere very different. Steve Rubel and I have never met in person but we exchange views via our blogs and trackbacks. The utility of the technology enables him to post a comment and for hundreds of others to send an email saying congrats – and for others to click and email (not everyone is into the comments thing).

It’s as if though the blog becomes the center point of your own little opt-in community. You get to fuel it with dialog and if folks like it, they come back and not only share in your views but participate in your little walk through life. And maybe this is what will separate the corporate blog from the rich professional and personal blogs? I’m not interested in being exclusive in what gets to be a blog and what doesn’t. But different blog types are here and definitions are useful.

So, in a much broader context, maybe we end-up with definitions that look something like this:

Web = Cold                     Blogosphere = Warmth
Web = Transmission       Blogosphere = Conversation
Web = Place                    Blogosphere = Community
Web = Anonymous          Blogosphere = Personal
Web = Company              Blogosphere = People
Web = Content                Blogosphere = Expression
Web = Cookie Cutter      Blogosphere = Individual
Web = Closed                  Blogosphere = Participatory
Web = Unresponsive       Blogosphere = Gives thanks….

More than anything, this is the notion of conversation that was bought so vividly to life by David Weinberger and others in The ClueTrain Manifesto. While the writing was electric I couldn’t help feel that it all was a little academic – a place in the future. My experience over the past few days is quite the opposite. This is very warm and personal. It’s something very different. And it’s here. Thank you!

5 Responses

  1. By Kevin Lim on May 2nd, 2005 at 10:11 pm

    First, congrats on your baby Sophia!

    Second, great idea comparing the web with the blogosphere. I always have to explain how blogs differ from web sites, intranets, online forums, the works. This will be my reference for those seeking blog enlightenment. :P

  2. By Robert C. Mullins on May 3rd, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    The Blogosphere:

    I really have to agree with your opinions here on the blogosphere. Really struck a chord! The only other thing I would offer is one of a religious analogy. I hear all the time how religious people, (what I mean here is any religion) talk about the concept of prayer as being a conversation? How can it be a conversation if only one person is talking, (audibly that is). I am not trying to start a religious debate over the esoteric definitions of what prayer is, I am however trying to make a point about what it means to be interactive or to have a relationship!

    Notice how companies SAY they have an “interactive” website, when just the contrary is true. I understand “interactive” in the coldest definition you may have of it,,,like trying on clothes on a website, or check-marking the appropriate boxes. But when I think of the word “interactive” I am thinking of an exchange, verbally or non-verbally between two or more people. For example, I am interacting with Andy through an exchange of electrons, however its not the transmission that is important but rather the content, and the intention behind the content.

    Andy writes content and I write content, but content really only has importance within the CONTEXT of what we both have to say. In other words, my content has value only because it is within the context of what Andy has already said. If you took my reply here on its own merits, then it is just words, and we can generally teach any machine to do that. However, our co-formed CONTEXT is emotionally driven, and ideally driven. It is rich and thick with feelings, meaning, and well, human stuff! It is the humanity that we pick up on here. Once we teach machines how to do that,,,well lets just be very careful about how we treat our toaster-ovens. (Remember Maximum Overdrive?).

    In any case, hats off Andy I couldnt agree with you more!

    Afterthought: “Interactive” websites have a context to,,they sell, you buy. That is the extent of the context behind their content. We need buying and selling, but blogging is a helluva lot more fun!

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