One person, some sort of authority, talks. Lots of people listen. Sometimes those people get to contribute something.
Sound familiar? It should, because I’m not just talking about a classroom, I’m talking about your blog.
Blogs and classrooms share the same basic social structure. And like classrooms, blogs and bloggers have a variety of moods or atmospheres.
Seth Godin’s blog is like a big lecture. You come, you listen, then you go play Ultimate Frisbee by the fieldhouse. If you want to talk about what Seth said, you’ll need to do it outside of class, please.
In some classrooms, when the teacher asks for comments, people respond to the teacher, not to the class. Chris Brogan’s blog is like this. His latest post about LinkedIn is a perfect example: lots of people talk to Chris, but they don’t talk much to each other.
(I’m not trying to judge here. I could listen to Seth lecture all day and I usually read all the comments to Chris, but the audience is definitely Chris, not me.)
Chris gets a lot of comments, and writes a lot, averaging more than a post a day, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t really join in his comment threads. But since people are talking to Chris, and Chris doesn’t often answer, his classroom doesn’t have a whole lot of discussion.
For a great example of someone who does get involved, check out Emil Stenström’s post about microformats. He’s the cool prof who likes to engage you in a discussion, will support his theories and honestly listen to yours, and may honestly change his opinion.
Can you do better?
Do you know of a blog that encourages discussion among the readers? Do you know of a classroom that encourages discussion among students?
Should you do better?
What do you want from comments? Do you readers to pontificate to no one, just trying to drive traffic to their own site with some +5 insightful idea? Should they talk to you? Should they talk to each other?
do it can help, so why do so few blogs have them? Do you want your readers to talk to each other?