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.