Is Kinja The First Community Blogging Tool?

An interesting post from the ever thoughtful Tom Coates of PlasticBag points out that the key selling point of Kinja, the new blogging aggregator I took a brief look at a few days back, may be its ability to group blogs together and then allow other people to view the results easily, in real time. Tom writes:

The “killer app is this sharing of digests, this creation of really user-friendly throw-aroundable clumps of groupness. That’s the the core of the enterprise. That’s where the fun is, that’s the playlist-making, that’s the mix-tape, that’s the place where self-defining groups can make their home and that’s where I think the future development should move (and the marketing effort). Let people make more than one digest – let them make dozens – let it represent their church group or their anthropology class or their social software circle. Let them share them – even badge them prominently so that they seem co-owned. If you do all that, then Kinja might not just be a simple app for the newbies in the audience but a project with surprising and long-lasting power. There could be something really interesting here after all, just in a slightly unexpected direction… “

It’s an important point: While not detracting from the revolution that is blogging, it still tends to be something of a individualistic ‘publishing’ activity, in that the blogger publishes his/her thoughts, and then the only interactive or collaborative activity after that is for readers to post comments. If someone’s already read the post, chances are they won’t go back and see the comments. However many comments a post gets, they tend to trail off a bit like a thread in a newsgroup discussion, never reaching any exciting new synthesis.

But I don’t quite see how Kinja is going to help that. It certainly makes sense for a community of bloggers to share the same space, so that their postings appear inside a Kinja-style group blog, preserving the individuality of each blog (Kinja includes a graphic from the relevant blog, and includes enough to clear identify the source of each post). But unless I’m missing something, the best that will happen is that one post on one person’s blog spawns a response on another blog, and that Kinja allows those two blogs to fuse together, creating a dialog of sorts. But unless there’s some discipline in naming the posts, or cross referencing them, that’s not exactly a collaborative medium.

I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but surely the future of blogging as a medium discussion, rather than an uneven (and unequal) platform for individuals to publish and readers to comment (a bit like a newspaper, I guess), is when the layout of blogs allows easy, visual, linkage between related posts and comments. This calls out for an environment a bit like TheBrain, where spiderweb-like lines can be drawn between posts and comments, preserving the linkage between posts, and discussions of posts.

Until that day, I guess, Kinja is a modest glimmer of hope.

Is Kinja A Party Crasher?

I’ve taken a look at Kinja, the new blogging aggregator/digest site, and while it’s nicely put together, it’s clearly aimed at the novice. I also feel it’s a little exploitative.

Users sign up — optionally giving away some personal information — and are then requested to insert some website addresses of blogs they want to monitor. (Given most blogs don’t have particularly friendly URLs, this is somewhat primitive way of doing it. Why not at least allow the option of letting users enter the name of the blog and then have Kinja dig out some matches? You can, however, add a bookmarklet to your browser to add sites you visit to your Kinja list.)

Once that’s done, a digest is displayed of postings to those websites. (A digest basically means the first couple of sentences of each post.) When I put in two — this one, and my partner’s — and while nine of my postings showed up, none of hers did, so Kinja is already a nasty word in this household and I’m in the doghouse.

But more intriguingly, the postings are interspersed with sponsored links. In other words, Kinja is filching material from other websites — some of which may be supported by ads — and then putting the content on their website, and adding their own ads. Is everyone going to be happy with that?

Loosewireblog is not ad sponsored, but if it was, I would have to confess I would not be delighted to find that everyone was reading it on Kinja instead. It would be like hosting a party and find that everyone had come in, grabbed some drinks and headed across the hall to another party with cooler music.

Enter Kinja, The New Blog Directory

Here’s another blog directory, going live today (it’s just a graphic at the time of writing this). Is it going to be different, or is it hype?

The New York Times today says Kinja, “automatically compiles digests of blogs covering subject areas like politics and baseball. Short excerpts from the blogs are included, with links to the complete entries on the individual blog sites.” Users can sign up for a free account, enter the addresses of their favorite blogs and generate a digest.

Those behind Kinja include Nick Denton, “whose small blog-publishing empire includes the New York gossip site Gawker” according to The Times, and Meg Hourihan, Kinja’s project director and a founder of the blog publishing service Blogger. (Her blog is here.)

Kinja users can make their customized digests public, NYT says, and that the best digests would be promoted at the site, making the users ”part of the editorial team.”

There’s definitely room for improvement in the way blogs, and RSS feeds, are pulled together for the reader. Reading blogs, even in RSS form, becomes quite a chore, and while there are some great blogs out there, the tendency of the most interesting ones to cover a very broad spectrum of topics makes sifting through sometimes more time-consuming than one would like. Here’s an interesting discussion about what Kinja could be, and what people are looking for.