You're Talking a Lot, But You're Not Saying Anything

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How does commentary affect the world around us?

The Death of the Comment; The Rise of the Tweet: What Does It Say About Us?

ReadWriteWeb has a new piece on the “death of the comment” and the rise of integrated alternative response forms: tweets, videos, images, links, and the like, all connected with original content through tools like Disqus or Echo.

The advent of alternatives to traditional comments is certainly relevant and not unexpected. However, don’t these unique ways of responding count as commentary as well? A RWW commenter (ha!) asserts that “Comments are still more insightful than tweets, which provide very little added info other than the link (140 ch. limit).” I tend to agree that long- or free-form comments have the potential to provide greater value than short tweets. However, one of the greatest assets of Twitter is its visibility. If tweets can function to make discussions (complete with comments, potentially) known to a wider audience–many of whom may have their own comments or tweets to make in response–then Twitter is a tool that truly furthers commentary in an important way, even as it morphs the form of that commentary.

In a sense, online commentary is a realization of Pierre Levy’s collective intelligences. None of us would know even a fraction of what we know now if not for the information-sharing ability of the web. Merely accessing information, though, is only the first step. It takes intelligence–first individualized, then later collective/collaborative–to make that information worthwhile. The semantic web is, in a sense, the ultimate form of collective intelligence, not even requiring a “collective” to create it. At the same time, however, it’s also a completely depersonalized “intelligence” or set of information analysis capacities.

Would we prefer our information processed by computers or commented on by humans? The future is definitely going to involve a combination of the two factors. Which one will be emphasized may depend on the types of technology developed and the ways in which they are used and shared by individuals. Collective intelligence aside, we can at least safely assert that comments on posts about the death of the comment are the ultimate form of irony.

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Filed under: Blogs, Commentary, Twitter

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