Jul 22 2008

Glue and Comments

Since last summer I’ve been talking about comments as the Dark Matter of the Blogosphere.  I use Intense Debate* for the comment system on my blog and have learned a lot by experimenting with it. 

In the past six months comments have moved to the forefront of the discussion around user generated content.  While the various new commenting systems that have emerged have played a part in this, I think the broad activity around systems that enable small bursts of user generated content (Twitter, BrightKite*) and systems that aggregate a wide variety of user generated content (FriendFeed, SocialThing*) are playing a huge role in this and more "comment-like" data is being generated all over the Web.

One of the investment themes I’m most fascinated with right now is the one we call "Glue".  We’ve made a handful of investments in the Glue theme at Foundry Group including Gnip, AdMeld, and Topspin.  We’ve also been working with our good friend Eric Norlin – the creator of the Defrag Conference – on a Glue Conference.

I’m always looking for great, simple examples of Glue and I found one accidentally the other day.  I put up a blog post titled Brilliant Op-Ed Crushing McCain On The EconomyI posted it on Sunday morning and then went out for a two hour run.  I came back to about 20 comments on it in my inbox.  Even though the post was done on my blog, I noticed the comments were from FriendFeed accounts being emailed to me by Intense Debate.

Here’s what happened.  My blog is one of my FriendFeed services.  A vigorous debate broke out on FriendFeed between a couple of people.  I wouldn’t have noticed it until Monday when I checked my FriendFeed ego feed (I only do this once a day.)  However, Intense Debate is "glued" to my FriendFeed account so any comments that show up on a blog post of mine on FriendFeed automatically show up in Intense Debate on my blog.  It’s a small feature, but a brilliant one, as it brings the overall conversation associated with my blog post back to my blog where I actually want it.

There are now 46 comments on this particular blog post (unexpected – I don’t write that much about politics and it was a Sunday post.)  Most of them are from the FriendFeed discussion, but some are from my blog readers.  They are intermixed where I want them – on my blog.  Even though they are coming from multiple sources, they persist permanently on my blog due to a tiny feature in Intense Debate.

Now – this is all much too complex still, but it’s why the Glue is so interesting to us.  We are continually looking for unnecessary complexity in the metaverse and ways to build really large companies that (a) take advantage of the complexity, (b) simplify the complexity, or (c) both.  If you make glue, email me!

* Yes – I’m aware that each of Intense Debate, BrightKite, and SocialThing are TechStars companies from 2007 – and I’m immensely proud of the progress each has made and the fact they are in the midst of what I consider to be a very interesting and vigorous segment of our little tech universe