Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More Linkage: Platforms for Discussion

Sari chimes in on the discussion about why and how to make sf discussions on the net more lively with a good and thoughtful post. I find myself mostly agreeing with what she is saying: the discussion is inevitably fragmenting to different forums, blogs, etc. and the best strategy is to go with it instead of trying to fight against the current.

I think the only way to get the often-coveted “one really good fandom forum” for all discussion (even if you supposed you could get enough people to agree what “good” in this context means) would be to take away all other means of communication (other forums, blogs, mailing lists, etc.). And since this isn’t happening, it’s probably not very realistic to try to get any central hub for all fandom discussion artificially going. Not that I object people trying, mind you.

Sidenote 1: One possible (technical) solution for merging blogging and more forum-like discussion than just blog comments might be a LiveJournal-type platform where you could set up topics as communities where people could post their thoughts and commenting would work in a bit more structured manner than on the usual blog. (No, I don’t think LiveJournal is going away despite the current panicking about some layoffs in their US office – on the other hand, I would personally prefer something else, since following LiveJournal discussions with the rudimentary tools they give you is a pain.)

So, all the different blogs and forums probably are here to stay at least for now, until someone comes up with something new people will go with. This is not totally unrelated to what’s going on with fanzines. Every now an then some wide-eyed idealist proposes joining forces to produce one big, really good zine. But since doing your own thing the way you like is more fun, people will keep doing that instead. (Yes, I’m doing that too.)

Sidenote 2: You can make your life following discussions going on in blogs much easier by using a RSS feed aggregator. It will collect the posts from the blogs you want to follow and present them to you in one interface, in chronological order. Simple and easy. If you don’t want to experiment with installing new programs and learning to use them, Google Reader is a good option to test drive using feeds without having to install any of the stuff yourself. It’s almost like having your personal forum where the people you want to read write about stuff they think is interesting.
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