Amy Gahran has a nice list of 10 Reasons Why Blogs Are an Awkward Conversation Tool. Amy doesn't dispute that conversation happens in blogs - the essence of the list is that blogs hinder the flow of conversation that you might otherwise get in person or on more open technologies, such as online forums. I generally agree with Amy's thoughts on the awkwardness of blogs for conversation. It is difficult to "see" the flow of a conversation as it flows from blogger to blogger to email to comments and trackbacks.
From my perspective, my blogging serves to add my voice to a larger conversation around topics of interest to me. I also participate on some topic-specific forums, and conferences and many other environments where conversations can happen. Maybe blogs are better at capturing the flow of an idea, rather than a thread of conversation.
And beyond the idea of conversation, blogging has been a source of a growing personal network of people who are similarly interested in the topics I follow. As people post their ideas, I get to know them and grow attracted (or not) to them based on what and how they write. This is similar to how it works in face-to-face meetings and introductions, but blogs develop over time and give me different insights into people than I get in that first few seconds of an introduction.
Here is Amy's list.
- They're not intuitive
- They're too busy
- Who's responding to whom?
- Comments don't necessarily = conversation
- Comments don't always get a reply
- (Usually) no notification for follow-up comments
- You can turn off comments and trackbacks
- Perceived inequality
- Lots of people don't like blogs, and they never will
- It's much faster just to talk
Of course, her post has comments on these, and readers have also posted some good thoughts. A few even talk about the kinds of conversations that are best suited to blogs or to forums or other modes. Also, it's worth noting that this list only applies to blogs that are intended to be conversational. There are many, many forms/styles of blogs out there, and not all forms are terribly conversational.