RE: Letter 001
I like the idea of long form comments too. I wonder if part of the negativity of some comments is the lack of length. Then again, much vitriol has been written in more than 280 characters. Sometimes long form gives people more time to sharpen their spears than to create fruitful discourse. So while important, I do not think length is the keystone.
Perhaps it is a matter of asking what the rules of engagement are. What is the context for that 280 characters? What is the context for the long form responses? In this case, I like to think that responding to your post is like responding to a letter from a friend rather than a couple of cryptic sentences. I am in a different headspace. I slow down, trying to be more thoughtful in how I respond to your ideas. It reminds me of the relation between physical places to our own well-being, something Bix has poignantly referenced many times in his blog and I have responded to.
And you bring up a fascinating idea of not worrying about whether you can find a post where someone quotes you. It makes me think of notifications and whether they are needed all of the time. If we think again about the physical places analogy, there are many delightful happenstances that occur as we walk around a city – a coffee shop we never knew of before, an enthralling street performer, a wonderful conversation with a person on a bench. These things are not preceded by notifications. They just happen unexpectedly.
Maybe we do not need to be alerted every time our posts are mentioned elsewhere. Private messaging, or a function akin to this letter to the editor system, is great for direct one-to-one communication. That is what I should know about – there is a letter in my mailbox by someone who wants to get in touch with me. But maybe having the other part of it be open-ended, mentions and quotations without notifications, leaves room for a sense of renewed discovery on the web.
Read.write.as, then, acts as a little town square of sorts where, as you said, you go about “looking to see what other writer are talking about, seeing if you have been mentioned, seeing if a conversation is progressing.” That to me is a place on the web worth dwelling in. Thanks for contributing to that feeling Miso.