Scott's Workblog

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February 13, 2006

Distributed conversations continued

Stephen Downes provides a glimpse of a conversation tracking system he's working on for eduRSS in response to my post on conversations. I think its worth noting how Stephen tackles the issue - by tracing the relationship of posts, rather than the relatonship of comments.

This is important, because posts on your own site have very clear provenance - comments made on the sites of others have ambiguous provenance without providing solid self-assertions of identity. So tracing relations between posts as conversations is a viable strategy.

The question then is how best to provide the service pointing out the connections - it can be a feature of a personal aggregator, but then that limits the potential members to subscribed feeds. Perhaps services like EduRSS could provide a very simple API for returning a graph of related post URLs from a given starting point? This would be more useful than systems like CoComment, and a variety of such services could be harvested by an individual aggregator (or PLE tool) to build up richer conversation graphs.

Comments in their current form may not be dead (yet) but clearly have problems. If nothing else, the mechanisms used to prevent robot spam, such as CAPTCHA are also preventing the use of user agents to make comments. Comments are often invisible to feed readers too.

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