Benjamin in ConversationSome of what I say here may not be new to followers of the clue train manifesto. If you haven’t come across it and are interested in marketing or where the web is going, it is worth a read.

Websites are a one-way conversation. They give you information, sometimes they even try to tell you what they think that you think, which is always a dangerous game. Many websites don’t give an obvious way to contact the authors, let alone the ability to leave a comment. Talk to the web browser, the site isn’t listening.

The world of blogs is one of conversations, although there are a lot of lonely voices. With blogs, you can read, you can comment. You get to have your say. There is a two-way communication, the conversation. Or so I thought…

On one of my blogs I discovered that comments were blocked. Not good. Big error on my part, it was due to a programming glitch. Bad Benjamin. Also this week I had some comments I wrote on a blog deleted. This was a new experience for me, even though I have been commenting on blogs for a few years. The comments weren’t controversial, and I didn’t think they were unhelpful. Nevertheless, they were erased. No explanation, no comment, and no way to contact the blogger. Not good, no conversation.

It is a funny type of conversation where people can unilaterally eradicate parts of the dialog. However, that is one of the properties of shiny-new digital media. These are unusual conversations. When a conversation is mediated by technology, the technology alters that communication. Even the humble telephone changes how we communicate. Subtle, almost imperceptible, things like delay and echo affect how we converse.

Mediums like email, Twitter and blogs are even less transparent. They change the shape of the conversation. It is worth remembering that. One of the things I like about wiki technology is the way that it tracks changes and creates an audit log. That makes more sense of the shifting sands of digital media.

Since I started blogging, the most interesting aspect has been the conversations. It is amazing to watch the way that they can flow from one blog to another. Someone comments here, posts over there, bringing other posts and comments elsewhere. Often the conversation flows right back to where it started. This swirling nature of conversation in the blogosphere is a wonderful dynamic. It is like little sparks of knowledge flying off, as different minds brush together.

I want to listen more, but I am only just comprehending exactly what ‘listening’ ‘looks like’ in the blogosphere. I’ll add a blogroll, tweak my WordPress settings and adjust my writing. What other things should a good listening blogger do?