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Where The Comments Are.. FriendFeed, Doctor Who and Routing Round Obstructions

Posted on April 22, 2008
Filed Under Links to my Articles, Web 2.0 (Observations) |

I got a comment today on one of the more popular articles on this site, namely the “Tardis Crash” mash-up of the 1963, 2005 and 2007 Doctor Who theme tunes. Except it wasn’t on the site. It was on a link to a Twitter post that was over on FriendFeed.

There’s already been discussion (and there will continue to be discussion) about the rights and wrongs of services which lift the content of other sites but keep as much lock-in value as possible. I’d consider FriendFeed keeping the comments on a post on their site, and not relaying it into my comments system, to be generating value for FriendFeed, by taking that value from my site to theirs.

I’m also mindful that when asked what they wanted to be remembered for, a [famous person who’s name escapes me - Arthur C Clarke? Help me out, here dead read?] replied “Frankly, I just want to be remembered…”

It’s always interesting though, when the rule of thumb (start the conversation, contribute it, and buoild upa blog readership) is subverted - especially when it’s by people outside ‘The Valley Bubble’ that have decided that they way they are doing it is the best for them. I’m thinking here of noted (sic) Doctor Who fan Lawrence Miles weekly blog posts on the new Doctor Who series. They can be found here… well I say they, because Miles has a habit of taking the weekly posts down from the site after seven days, to replace them with the latest thoughts, although he seems to keep notable posts, such as his broadside on the Titanic Christmas episode, in the system.

Now here’s a perfect opportunity for web services to make a difference - if the internet can route round obstacles (both physical and intellectual) then can it route round the wishes of the original content owner? Of course it can! Step forward the Doctor Who Forum, who maintain a weekly thread to discuss Miles posts, because they know (a) they can’t comment on his blog and (b) they know the content will get deleted.

As with all good systems though, just because you can do something, should you? And this is where it all gets interesting. Miles switches off comments, and takes down posts. The implication is clear. Yet the discussions on the Forum are lively, wild and very, very involved. Here is a rather clear case of “if we don’t we’ll loose out,” but in making a general service to do the same thing, it’s more a case of “we can, so let’s make a business out of it.”

That’s a mighty thin dividing line between the cases - and I’m not sure which side I actually stand on.

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