Last night I turned off comments on this blog. This post you’re reading now shouldn’t have the option to comment on it at the footer of the post. Years ago I read a book called Naked Conversations, by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble that was really the first thing that inspired me to consider blogging in the first place. It was reading that book that inspired me to ping Ross and ask for his help to set this blog up originally and it was out of those conversations that I came to begin using Twitter. Indeed, I owe a lot to those years! I love small-s social, to coin a new (?) term. In it’s most pure form, it’s what happens when people contribute their thoughts on a great variety of topics into the public discourse. It makes us all smarter. Whether it’s messaging, Social Media (big S, lol), or something else this desire to speak into the commons is something that will not go away. Arguably, it’s been with us for all time. The more responsive we are to it, the better things tend to get.
And so, I turned off comments.
As things progressively move to being more mobile and more product and/or platform based, the old comment system familiar to blogs has become less relevant to me. Open conversation now happens on Twitter, mostly. My posts have never really generated a large swath of comments, anyway. My writing has never seemed to spark it like other bloggers have done. Most of my conversation today now happens in Yammer, Facebook Messenger (which is how I communicate with close friends) and Twitter. The conversation seems to have mostly moved on. It remains on some blogs; AVC is still one of my favourite blogs and it has a huge community following it.
Even so, there’s still something romantic and unique to me about writing in long-form and I that’s what I’m enjoying about reading and writing more at the moment. I’m really enjoying being a subscriber (do sign up!) to Ben Thompson’s Stratechery, mostly because he writes terrifically well about a topic I’m passionate about. But he also generates a lot of discussion on Twitter to colour in the grey areas of the posts he writes, which is excellent to follow along with.
So, what will happens to the conversations that take place around blogs? Could we see a return to conversations on blogs in a different and even more traditional sense? Here’s what I think is shaping up. For many reasons, we’re seeing more and more places pop up where the product and/or platform you’re using not only offers you features that help you write the blog, but also help you distribute it. Medium and Tumblr are the archetype here. Medium has a beautiful feature that seems newer than most that allows you to respond to a post with your own post. I did this a couple of weeks ago when I wrote this response to Andy Swann and found it a great experience.
I’m really enjoying using WordPress.com at the moment because I can feel that it’s maintaining the a place for me to build up a life’s work, similar to how Fred Wilson describes it here. But I can also feel that it is getting better and better to use for following and responding to others with long-form writing. So much so, I think it will stay ahead of places like Medium in the long run.
So. No more comments but not necessarily no more conversation. If you’d like to chat about anything I’ve ever written here, I’d love to keep the conversation going either in your own blog post (by simply linking back to a post), reblogging my posts on WordPress.com or mentioning me on Twitter. I look forward to chatting with you sometime soon!