Over the weekend, there was chatter about a conversation index, and how the number of comments you have is an indicator of the depth of the conversation. Frankly, I’m not sure we can have a conversation with our posts and comments, no matter how many people become involved.
When you write a comment to one of my posts, you don’t see me. You don’t know what phone call I’ve just had, or how I’m feeling, or even what necessarily triggers my buttons. You can’t look into my eyes and think to yourself, “Maybe now is not a good time to mention what I’m about to mention”. Conversation isn’t just words, or responses. It’s a whole host of things, such as context, familiarity, surroundings, perceptions, and tone. Most importantly, tone. Whether this tone is conveyed via our voices, or our gestures, it forms a third part of our communication when we have a conversation.
As serendipity would have it, Dave Sifry also released some form of state of the blog report this weekend. He wrote:
We track about 1.2 Million posts each day, which means that there are about 50,000 posts each hour. At that rate, it is literally impossible to read everything that is relevant to an issue or subject, and a new challenge has presented itself – how to make sense out of this monstrous conversation, and how to find the most interesting and authoritative information out there.
…how to make sense of this monstrous conversation… You and I and a thousand or so close, intimate friends are having a conversation. Pity that we can only listen to 846 of each other at any one time. Have no fear, though–we’re tagging more.
The thing is, many of these tags are involuntary–derived from categories found in our syndication feeds. They might be helpful if our conversations consist of each of us talking to ourselves, but I don’t know about us having a conversation with each other. As for interesting and authoritative, according to Google, I’m one of the most authoritative and interesting sources on Dave Sifry–not sure he’d agree with that. I know I don’t agree with him, but I’ll let Ethan and Sir Dave the Slayer of Pomps and Lists stick in the pins by their lonesomes this round.
I thought of conversations last night, and realized that I’ve been doing this now for almost five years–or is it six? I can’t remember anymore–and I can count on my two hands the number of times I’ve had a conversation with the people I’ve met through weblogging. I feel affection, respect, a host of feelings for many of you I’ve known for years–yet we haven’t had, in most cases, one conversation.
Dialogs, debates, discussions, exchanges, quips, repartee, jests, jibes, and jokes, oh yes, all of these. Verbal tears, and written fears and softly typed hopes and dreams; bold anger, and italicized satire, and times when the words become jumbled between thee and me and misunderstandings results. I rather think that you, my fine readers, do a terrific job in my comments–better than the posts many times. But do we have conversations? I don’t know. I think if we did, truly did, I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you all right now.
However, I am tired tonight so perhaps this is nothing more than blather. Or, to quote my friend, Sir Dave, what do I know? I make all this shit up.