In many ways, the Globe isn’t really all that different from any other company. We have a product — namely, our content — and we have customers, except that we call them readers. Of course, unlike many companies, we also play a kind of public-service role, but that’s a service to readers and to the community as a whole as well. And just like other companies, we are trying to find our place in this new, more connected world, where our customers are not just looking to interact and engage with us, but are also interacting with each other, carrying on conversations that we theoretically helped to start. How can we become a part of those conversations? I think the Cluetrain message is a simple one: by being human, and by speaking the way that human beings do.
“Youâ€™ve got to find whatâ€™s interesting in everything, youâ€™ve got to be good at noticing things, youâ€™ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, theyâ€™ll find you interesting.”
The second point is related to the first: Be ready to share. Someone who doesn’t want to share their passion or knowledge with others is inherently uninteresting — except perhaps as some kind of icon or idol who is worshipped from afar. In order to be interesting on a genuinely personal level, you have to be willing to share some of your knowledge and interests with others. But as Russell notes, this doesn’t mean talking about yourself endlessly:
“Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and youâ€™re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.”
That’s it, really. Two steps. Lather, rinse and repeat. Russell has some handy tips on how to help stay interested in people and things — blogging regularly, keeping a journal, getting a hobby, and so on. But it really comes down to variations on those two steps.
In doing so, however, La Gesse also removed all of the comments that had been posted — including some from Scoble (La Gesse says he didn’t know that would happen). The uber-blogger didn’t like that much: “@kr8tr you just deleted all MY comments. That was really nasty dude,” the Scobleizer said on Twitter. A heated discussion ensued both on Twitter, as well as on La Gesse’s blog and on FriendFeed. That in itself makes a statement about the fragmentation of comments that many people (including me) have written about in the past.
The big issue for Scoble, however, seemed to be that he felt he owned his comments — even if they appeared on a third-party service attached to a blog post from someone else. Does that make any sense? I’m not sure. It doesn’t feel right to me. I think if you comment on someone’s blog, or on a newspaper site like ours at the Globe and Mail, or on Slashdot or Craigslist or anywhere else for that matter, your comments effectively become public property. Not that the site owns them, but they are to some extent out of your control (although Disqus lets you edit them until someone else responds to them).
I sent an email to FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit to see if he had any comment, and he said that this is the first time the subject has really come up. “In general, we want people to have control over their own feeds,” he said. “That said, it is unfortunate to have lost comments in cases such as this, rare as they may be. We’d like to make these comments available — it’s just a matter of finding the right ui.” Buchheit said that the comments haven’t been deleted, they just aren’t visible because they are no longer attached to anything, but that FriendFeed was working on a way to make them visible again.