Microcontent Wiki

Richard MacManus brings forth an interesting viewpoint: “one part of the Writeable Web is often overlooked: weblog comments. Often some of the best nuggets of content can be found buried in a comment attached to a weblog post. I’ve even coined a phrase for this: Microcontent Wiki, which is defined as: Weblog Post + Comments. It’s microcontent because it’s usually content based around a single theme or topic (defined by the weblog post). And it’s like a Wiki because anyone can write a comment on a weblog, so it has a similar collaborative feel to a Wiki. The problem is, currently we don’t have an easy way to track Microcontent Wikis. We can subscribe to RSS feeds for weblogs and even topics (k-collector), but weblog comments aren’t as simple to aggregate.”

I agree…that is why there is a comments RSS feed for Emergic.org.

But what Richard is talking about is slightly different: “I’d like to be able to track comments on other peoples sites, but post-by-post only. In other words I’d like to de-couple bits of content from their various locations – particularly if they’re buried in a weblog comments system – and collect them together in my RSS Aggregator.”

Richard summarises this as: Weblog Post + Comments = Microcontent Wiki. “Content is always going to be tightly coupled to location. This is especially so in a weblog, where the location will be a URL. But even in a Wiki, or a Microcontent Wiki as I’ve described it (weblog post + comments), there is a central location where content on a specific topic is aggregated. The key is to make it easy to subscribe to all the “locations” that interest you. Currently it’s easy to subscribe to weblogs using RSS. Now we want to make it easy to subscribe to microcontent.”

Hmm…there isn’t an easy solution to this! But it sure would be good to have. Many times, comments are left by people with viewpoints but who may not have a blog or may want to participate in an ongoing discussion on the original blog.

This is yet another example of the proliferation of microcontent, as is noted by Don Park, who beautifully links blogs and wikis:

Imagine posts and comments flowing from blogs to wikis like the way streams feed into lakes. Got the picture yet? Now think of a blog category as a wiki page. The picture changes so that the blog becomes a mountain and categories become the streams running down the side of the mountain in all directions toward wikis into which streams from other mountains also feed into.

Here are some decorations to complete above picture:
– rain is the news that bombard us daily
– rocks that form the mountains are our experiences
– volcanic eruptions are our rants
– flash floods are sudden spikes of activitiy
clouds are news generators like North Korea or Saddam Hussein

The RSS revolution has just begun.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.