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Steve Yost
09:20 PM ET (US)
Hey, it's time I post notice here for you subscribers who might not have seen David Weinberger's blog: ThreadsML discussion is active again, over here now:
01:42 AM ET (US)
i posted some stuff to the associated wiki

10:50 PM ET (US)
02:35 AM ET (US)
I hope this isn't too far offtopic :

I'd add to what Shelley and David have said about ThreadNeedle and blogs, just off the top of my head, my take on it : that in the online 'asynchronous discussion communities' that Dan mentioned below, you have represented yourself through the things you say and have said in that community. There may have been an additional body of work, but this was secondary to the text-representation of yourself that accreted, word by word, as a result of your participation. This is a trivial observation, I know. But your avatar was effectively yourself as you chose to represent yourself via your comments and conversations.

When we talk about a weblog, though, I think it's profitable to talk about two separate entities created as an adjunct of our online presence, at least the one that derives from the weblog itself : the (for lack of a better word) publication and the person.

Now certainly, the 'publication' is a mirror, to whatever extent, of the person writing it. We see many weblogs that stop here at this point, that have no commenting systems enabled, or that pay little attention the 'community', that are traditional web logs (ie collections of links with minimal commentary) or diaries or photoblogs or warblogs or god knows what...but that are intended less as manifestations of the person behind them than publications about that person or their interests.

Another dimension, though, comes in with weblogs that have comment threads, that encourage and participate in conversations with other weblogs/webloggers. In this situation, the weblog not only becomes a publication about something (which might, in the case of more diarist-type blogs, be the person who is writing it) but a representation, an avatar of that person. The weblog itself becomes an active extension of the weblogger's identity (I wish I'd thought about this during the recent conversations around the blogs about 'identity'. Ah well.) The weblog is something that is carried with them (or is an extension of their identity online...? I'm not sure about this bit at all), and the cross-blog conversations that occur as a result of this, in posts and their comment threads, are in a way a new and larger version of the sort of discussion types we're historically used to, that Dan mentioned in his earlier post. A version that carries a body of work, a more deliberate one, along with the community member.

Does this make sense? I'm riffing here, and I have to admit that I haven't read David's book yet, so the sort of thing I'm trying to get a handle on (and communicate at the same time) might be old news.

Anyway (*takes a breath*) - I see these weblogs, the blogs that are not only 'publications' about something but also representations of the personality behind the words (and are this way because the weblogger has comments threads and/or engages in cross-blog conversations in their main posts and/or blogrolls people (the use of the word 'people' here is deliberate) as an acknowledgment of community), avatars that engage in conversation, to be the audience at which Shelley's ThreadNeedle is aimed. And I think (hope) that the service might be a major step forward, if it reaches critical mass.
Burningbird aka Shelley
06:34 PM ET (US)

Here we are, having a conversation now that's cross-Quick Topic.

(My mind just exploded.)

I'll take David W.'s answer (/m107( and expand on it if I may.

I think of cross-blogging communications as having roots that preceed electronic media - the letter. In times past, we wrote long, complicated, and detailed letters as a means of communication with each other, a fact that has helped us learn much of history (for instance about the Civil War). The writer would spend time and consideration preparing their communication, and the form, material, writing spoke as much as the words themselves.

Weblogging has not only digitalized the concept of the letter, but opens doors to new voices to join in the letter-writing exchange.

Those of us who get involved in complex cross-blogging conversations usually spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how to respond, what to say. We carefully craft the response - usually. The level of effort and detail is much more than would occur in something such as, well, Quick Topic. Usually.

In addition, and the reason I don't care for aggregation - the weblogger has a unique style and look to their weblogs that is part of the message. It's equivalent to the handwriting, materials, etc of long ago writing. The weblog is part of the message.

Think of the weblog as being the avatar in this electronic conversation.
David Menendez
04:16 PM ET (US)
Since the subject of blogthreads has come up (/m105), I'll briefly mention some of my own ideas on the subject. David Weinberger's frequent references to conversational threads among weblogs got me thinking about how nice it would be if some service could collect weblog threads automatically and provide overviews, links to responses, and so forth. This is slightly lower-level than ThreadsML (as I understand it), since its purpose is to extract the threads from the raw materials rather than present an already-known thread.

The big stumbling block was figuring out how to break weblogs into individual posts, since every weblog has a different coding pattern. However, there's a simple coding convention that's compatible with nearly every weblog style and invisible to users: enclose each post in a labeled div element. Once that's done, weblog-aware services can read a weblog archive or main page, determine what posts it contains, associate a URI reference with each post, and figure out what links the post contains.

You can use that to build a graph of weblog posts which will correspond pretty well to the discussion thread. If person A writes a post, and person B responds to that post, person B just has to include a link to person A's post. There's no need for RSS feeds or explicit RDF threading information, just a coding convention and a simple spider.

What's really cool about the idea (in my opinion, at least) is that it's not limited to weblogs. The same convention can be applied to message boards or even web-based mail or Usenet archives, and a reader could potentially follow a thread between multiple weblogs, message boards, and archives.

My latest attempt to explain this in more detail is at http://www.eyrie.org/~zednenem/2002/web-threads/ .
Edited 06-22-2002 04:17 PM
Dan Kalikow
01:32 PM ET (US)
/m107 NoNo -- I came here for abuse!! (-: which I think would be especially apt, considering the inordinate length of my /m106 :-)

I'll think more on this by tomorrow AM.
David Weinberger
10:57 AM ET (US)
WRT /m106:

I think about your msg as asking two questions: What are the differences between the blog world and other online communities, and what are the advantages of the blog world?

#1: The form of a blog typically is more like a newspaper column or journal entry than like a message in a dialogic (yech) community. A blog is a persistent space where I get to talk about what I want. I may choose to respond to someone else but I haven't run into any blogs that *only* do that. More likely, I'll write a brief essay on a topic. And, yes, a blog page is *mine*; the fact that I get to format it as I want counts. Blogs are what homepages were originally intended to be.

#2: The advantages are those that accrue to essays and columns as opposed to more epistolary forms. Is this better than a dialogic community? No, but it's different and has its own rewards.

You say: "...electronic forums, peopled by many interested asynchronous writers in virtual conversation in the same e-space, are likely to be inherently more interesting, easy-to-follow, and vibrant than the blogs of those same writers..." As you say, that is your experience, and clearly it's your preference. Take out the "inherently" and there's no argument. Or, leave it in and acknowledge that some writers are better at dialogue than at columns, and again there's no argument.

Defend the "inherently" and we can have an argument :)
Dan Kalikow
11:18 PM ET (US)
Hi All... Been following this with as much comprehension as I can muster for a non-RDFer. But /m105 roused me to some curiosity as to how blogging might interact with the Threading Standard being discussed here.

I speak as one who has definitely not acquired the "blogging meme." I've read a few and enjoyed 'em (David W's and Dan Bricklin's come to mind), and I think I "get" the blogrolling concept -- at least as well as someone who's been into e-communities for awhile (since email in '72 and since DECnotes in '89) but who's spent exactly 73 minutes reading, contemplating and being baffled by the popularity of blogs.

Why this Threading Standards effort? Methought it sprang from http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-jun17-01.html#threads wherein David pled for a portable representation of threads -- not so much that they could be navigated portably or abstractly, but so that they could be exported and imported cleanly across a variety of different discussion-enabling environments. Like out of CoolBoard and into anything. N'est-ce pas?

Now it may well be -- and it's a loverly outgrowth of groundbreaking work that this often happens -- that new purposes are discovered for a new technology. This is my dim understanding of what Steve mentions in /m104 -- "Google is a step closer to "I find a message in a thread. I should be able to follow the thread up and down its hierarchy (at the search site)"." So if this happens, cool!

But now I see /m105 which caused me to attempt to re-awaken my original attempt to find out why blogs are so popular. Bricklin's explanation resonated with me -- people write for other bloggers, and/or to make their blogs or websites better search targets, and/or to spark off new acquaintances, and/or to add new "blog-rollers" to their mutual-reference lists. Cool. I'm sure that's not everyone's reason, but hey, blogs are popular... Not my cuppa, but of course fine.

So now this notion of "blogthreads" comes up, whose purpose, as near as I can grok from Powers' description, is "Technology to enable community" whereby a posting in one person's blog riff on subject X can be automagically linked to another's followup in their blog, and so on. Thru some stuff I didn't understand, the Topic originator declares the start of a new Thread, and links it to the "Needley Page." Others wishing to follow that thread while writing their blogs insert some sort of (again-ill-understood-by-me) marker indicating that their own blogged stuff is a followup. And so it goes.

Anyone wishing to get a birds' eye view of the discussion would, presumably, get it from the Needley Page. One could navigate thereto from individual blogs, upon seeing that peoples' posts were explicitly marked as being responses to an ongoing discussion.

So, I'm asking myself, if this is technology to enable community, what's the advantage of building this community from a bunch of (pace Weinberger) blogs loosely joined? Is it that each blogger can continue to feel in control of, and continue to write into, the blogging environment of their choice, with their own tools, color-schemes, page-layouts, user-navigation graphics, and the like? So that they can continue to post their individual, trenche-de-vie minutiae, current events and Great Thoughts, and every so often return to multi-sided discussions on common questions of the blogging community within which they normally cross-read? So that they, when they wish to slough off the minutiae and see what one another are saying about, say, Identity or whatever other topics under common, multi-blog discussion, they can go to the Needley Site and see what's new, who's saying what?

If that's the design goal (in other words, if I'm not totally offbase), then it seems that the Needley Site is a means of enabling bloggers to construct a virtual meeting place while retaining control over those parts of their blogs that are not Needley-linked.
    Leading me (pardon my longwinded wind-up) near to posing my question about blogthreads. (I hasten to add that I know that this is not a notion proposed by anyone who's written in this QT, so I can't really expect you to defend Powers' service-to-be, unless you want to...)
As I said, I've been part of asynchronous discussion communities for awhile. The addictive charm of those environments, to me, is that they're "e-places" where people explicitly "meet" to exchange ideas. They may freely create new threads and stay updated on which postings are unseen by them -- at least the good tools encourage that -- but the environment handles threading in a consistent-within-the-tool way. So -- what is the benefit of being able to explicitly link blogs? Instead of the Needley Site, why not just have a community site, or (maybe) a bunch of 'em, where any blogger who's interested can go write their current thoughts?

I am definitely missing something. If the advantage of blogthreads is that individual blogs can retain their own internal "stream-of-blogger consistency" while being part of a larger whole, well -- maybe. But (and pardon me if this is totally antediluvian) it seems to me on the basis of my own experience that electronic forums, peopled by many interested asynchronous writers in virtual conversation in the same e-space, are likely to be inherently more interesting, easy-to-follow, and vibrant than the blogs of those same writers, linked up into "virtual virtual conversations" across as many e-spaces.

In other words, BBSes (of most formats) seem SO much more fun than blogs (to me). Maybe I just don't have as much that's original to say, outside of what I say to and the conversations I have with others. Perhaps the charm of blogthreads is to be able to continue producing scads of other interesting stuff, while also intermixing reactions to other ongoing cross-blog conversations.

Is it a control thing? That people aren't willing to trust a common site for their discussions (witness CoolBoard's demise)?

Having barged in here, I am perfectly willing to get this 'splained to me in small words so's I'll understand. No hard feelings! :-)
And now for something COMPLETELY different. I just noticed that /m105 by David Weinberger is showing me signed in as Dan Kalikow the little

options! This definitely should not be. FWIW I am signed into QT via RCN cable using a LINKSYS router/firewall, running MSIE 6.0.2600.0000 under Win2K. Proof: I have just edited /m105 with the following:

OBTW, please buy my book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/073...103-7507267-5287829 :-)

Weird. This is David W and I was presented with the edit/delete buttons for Dan K's msg. What is this, some stinkin' wiki?? :)

(Meanwhile, I also see the edit/delete buttons for /m105 which is indeed mine.)
Edited 06-16-2002 10:43 AM
David Weinberger
09:02 AM ET (US)
Shelly Powers has announced in her blog that she is starting a service that will create blogthreads:

Edited 06-15-2002 11:17 PM
Steve Yost
09:36 AM ET (US)
Looks like Google is a step closer to "I find a message in a thread. I should be able to follow the thread up and down its hierarchy (at the search site)". See Keyboard Shortcuts at http://labs.google.com.
Steve Yost
09:06 PM ET (US)
I'll agree with Peter by repeating myself from /m99:
I think that what I proposed in /m66 forms the basis strictly in terms of modules, but there should be more elaboration of use cases and specifics of the message ID discussion we've had.
I just added the use case from /m66 to the Wiki. There are others to glean from the round-trip discussion. I'd like to hear more about what the bots you mention in /m101 are doing Peter, i.e. what the humans at the end of the line are doing with the data (though machine-centric use cases are valid too, if that's what you've got).

Another use case, from /m80:
One question at this point: can a thread be spliced into an existing thread in its new home, i.e. can it be re-parented? I think not. A defining use case: I do a web-wide search using a search engine that understands ThreadsML and I find a message in a thread. I should be able to follow the thread up and down its hierarchy (at the search site); going down along different branches may lead to different sites, but going up should lead only to one site. Note that given the unique message IDs, the search engine recognizes identical messages and gives me the best one (probably at the originating site unless it's down).
I'll post that to the Wiki too.

Peter, I think the other major areas you mention -- Structural Description and Discovery -- are valid but they are indeed apart and separable from ThreadsML, and I don't think their definition would have any impact on ThreadsML, so I'd like to stay focused on that here.

David, there are some use cases implied in your suggestions, and I'd like to hear those. Some specific reactions:
  • If threads are portable, open/closed state is mutable at each of the host sites. Should we consider all core data, just like message IDs to be immutable (i.e. it should stay with the thread, unchanged, wherever it goes), and thus consider any site-to-site mutable data to be non-core?
  • Keywords, description/summary, and primary language imply an archiving/indexing application, which I think is the other most important use case (besides one-way trasfer of a thread from one forum to another).
    Edited 05-12-2002 09:08 PM
  • 102
    David Weinberger
    11:05 AM ET (US)
    Maybe we also want to know:


    * Thread owner(s)
    * Thread administrators(s)
    * Thread is open/closed to additions
    * Messages may be edited (by whom?)


    * Thread start date (may be different from date of first msg?)
    * Thread close date (when last msg could be accepted)
    * Thread description/summary
    * Thread keywords
    * Thread primary language

    I don't pretend to know if these have any place in the standard itself.
    -- David W.
    David Weinberger* 'zine: www.hyperorg.com
    self@evident.com blog: www.hyperorg.com/blogger
    Home: www.evident.com cluetrain: www.cluetrain.com
                             new book: www.smallpieces.com
                             speaking: www.hyperorg.com/speaker

    *Elevator statement on file with building supervisor

    < replied-to message removed by QT >
    Peter Kaminski
    12:00 AM ET (US)
    So I started thinking, "if I were a 'bot coming up to a discussion system, what would I want to be able to do?"

    This seems like a list of operations one level up from the intent of ThreadsML. ThreadsML is here, under "thread exchange/retrieve all messages...", but there's a lot of other stuff, too.

    Sorry for meta-stasizing, but maybe some of these operations are modules that would make ThreadsML work better and should be part of the standard or family of standards.

    Structural Description -- what threading capabilities does this board have?
    * return internal thread storage model (none, discussion board, blog, wiki, etc.)
    * return display threading model -- how do users see threads?
    * return support for threading model conversion (i.e., even though I'm a wiki, I'll pretend to be a blog if you want)

    Discovery -- how do I know a thread is there?

    * list all threads in date range
    * list all threads started by author xyz
    * list all threads which contain author xyz
    * list all threads with subject keywords x, y, z
    * list all threads with body keywords x, y, z

    ("list all" means something like "retrieve the subject/title and pointer to a thread")

    ("keywords" must include the capability to search for a full/partial URL)
    Intra-thread Navigation -- given one message in a thread, discover all the other messages having a thread relationship to it

    * list all threads that message x is part of
    * retrieve pointer to starting message of thread/branch
    * count how many messages are part of a thread

    Thread Exchange -- standardized representation of threads for export/import
    * retrieve pointers to all messages in a thread
    * retrieve one message in standardized format
    * retrieve all messages in a thread in standardized format
    * create new thread/branch by posting thread in standardized format
    Linking Notification -- backlinks to meta-discussions that include this thread
    * create link (+message?) to another service+thread that refers to this thread
    Peter Kaminski
    Peter Kaminski
    11:12 PM ET (US)
    David Weinberger writes,

    >Are we at the point where someone can actually start writing the
    >standard itself?

    Before we do that, it would be great to have a list of all the operations someone would do with the standard. These are the "use cases."

    Marc has started the first one on the wiki

    >GrabAThread: get an entire thread of messages.
    >Grab an entire thread of messages from the top to the end.
    >As distinct from getting just a subset of messages on a thread? Or is that
    >a sub-case of this one?
    >Want a response that includes the source forum, some thread ID (?), and a
    >set of messages.

    This one needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but each one we add will make it easier to flesh out the others.

    If you know an operation that isn't in the list, it's okay to just post a summary here; someone can pick it up and expand on it on the wiki.
    A use case document, BTW, would be a great thing to run up the flag pole. It would make it easy for other vendors and users to say it looks like the right requirements, or not.

    Steve Yost
    09:26 PM ET (US)
    Ben, as an author, your editing skills (in addition to technical) would be very welcome. I'd like to collaborate on it -- I think that what I proposed in /m66 forms the basis strictly in terms of modules, but there should be more elaboration of use cases and specifics of the message ID discussion we've had. Sound good? Can we agree to drop requirements for thread ID and cutting ID? When the proposal is ready, I think the best way to formalize it in terms of modules is through the RSS-DEV mailing list, as has been done for other modules. Right, Rael?

    But the real test will be to get other vendors to look at it and agree. Anyone want to volunteer for that? I wish we had more input from them up to this point (we've invited them at the beginning and after /m66).

    I won't be at the conference. Wish I could.
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