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Monday, May 19, 2003

The Problem With Conversations

Did I ever tell you that I think Doc Searls is one of the nicest, most sincere well meaning guys on the Net. Well he is.

So I have a little bit of a problem. Doc is a master of the metaphor. And one of his favorites is the "conversation" metaphor as in Blogging is a Conversation. One of the implications is that blogs are wonderful because anybody can join the conversation. Unfortunately I think that this is a myth in the same way as saying anybody in the United States can be president. It might be factually correct but experience and insight tell you otherwise.

What does it mean when it is stated that anybody can join the conversation. Does it mean that anyone can join the conversation if you agree with the majority of the conversationalists? If you dissent do you always have to risk getting a bile bath? A number of months ago, well respected technical journalist, John C Dvorak dared to offer a contrarian opinion about blogging. He was kicked so hard by the other conversationlists, that he actual sent me an email thanking me for some words I had written in his defense.

The latest conversation involves Google and Blogging. In this one Andrew Orlowski dared offered his opinion in contradiction to the vast majority of bloggers. In one entry Doc pointed out that Andrew had excluded himself from the conversation by not going to a certain conference - I wonder if Andrew saw it that way. Other conversationalists are still bathing him in bile but fortunately his thoughts were picked up by the NY Times. This will result either in the conversation being widened to include other ideas, but most likely other opinions will be excluded through the normal blogging biling process (Thanks to Doc for the bile metaphor).

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think all opinions should get equal airing and I try to get involved in the process of writing emails to editors, corporate leaders and posting blog entries when I feel that certain opinions do not deserve airing. Holocaust deniers and destruction of Israel advocates are two examples that come to mind. But we're talking about blogging here, and many people, including the top bloggers insist that we are basically doing this for fun.

So although I think Blogging is a Conversation is a propagated myth which will have some negative consequences down the road, can't we at least let John and Andrew join in. Hey, we might even learn something new. Who is wise? - He who seeks to learn from everyone. Blog on!