The quality of interaction is not strained
: Joi Ito worries that his IRC chat channel is being used to spam porn addresses. He asked the regulars in the room whether that was true and they said yes but “so what?” They’re used to it. Joi then quotes David Weinberger saying that the Web is about connecting and that includes “yelling, joking, teasing, provoking, criticizing, grieving, and flirting.”
I’ve been working with forums and chat for almost nine years now and now I’m a proud citizen of the blogosphere. I love all these forms of connection (nee interaction) for through them, the audience took ownership of the Internet from the publishers, editors, and producers. But I also know their foibles. At my day job, we employ people to respond to alerts of bad posts from participants in our forums; such TLC makes our forums amazingly robust and generally happy places.
All this reminds me of a gentle but firm lecture I gave — in my weblog comments — to one of my beloved commenters who was getting a little aggressive (or I think he said obnoxious). I could have killed his posts or blocked his IP but he wasn’t doing anything bad; he had good things to say; he was just getting a little loud. It occurred to me that he might not know the rules of weblogs vs. other forms of Web interaction.
So here is an expanded version of that:
Forums are like Saturday night at the bar. You can be loud; you can be obnoxious. The next morning, nobody will likely remember you or what you said.
Chats are like frat parties where everybody knows each other but where obnoxiousness is sometimes prized and where drunken jocks often crash the party.
Weblogs are homes in nice neighborhoods. I put my name on my blog; I tend the lawn around it; I don’t want anyone littering my yard. My comments are my open house and I ask that you behave accordingly.
It worked. My commenter is a nice neighbor (he was already nice; now he’s just nicer). He got it because it’s true. Weblogs are a higher form of audience content because (1) they have proprietors who care for and rule them (as Perry de Havilland says, weblogs are not democratic) and (2) because links mean that quality rises and shit sinks and (3) because their interactivity means that the audience can call you on misstatements or bad behavior. Mind you, I still and will always love chat and especially forums; this all goes to explain why weblogs are clicking.