I completely disagree with Ray Ozzie ("I'm thinking right now that I'd prefer to stick with human talkback rather than automated pingback"), John Robb ("I don't want pingback, trackback, or refererback."), and Sam Gentile ("Amen to that.").

I want as much automated and intervention-free invitation to participation in my blog as I can provide. I want manufactured serendipty to operate here while I'm away or asleep. I want this site to help me discover connections and uncover links, whether by automated agent or by friendly visitor. I want to lower the thresholds to interaction as far as I can. I love it when I've seen a few visitors to my site talk amongst themselves while I was on my drive to work.

Of course, I've never been cracked or assaulted by an exploit of my systems. I don't have unwanted stalkers or abusive anti-fans or malicious kids or babbling spammers after me in this space. Perhaps if I did, my systems might not tend toward such openness. I think this is a statement on many things beyond blogs, but that's a post for other days. Maybe some day I'll have these negative elements facing me, and I'll have to revise my systems and their direction to account for them.

On the other hand, I've got a naive notion that the openness itself can counteract much of the reason to become closed in the first place. Should the need arise, I think I can come up with some measures to deflect inane and juvenile attacks. As for spammers, I tend to think that their days are numbered anyway - but if they do arrive on my weblog I think I can leverage many of the technologies I use right now with great effectiveness on my email inbox. But, to defuse real frustration behind attacks, I tend to think that more communication, not less, is what's needed.

But I'm not sure at all, though, whether or not the threat of abuse is what motivates Ray and John to leave automated discussion channels closed. It's just one motive I've seen discussed before. I think they want more "human" and personal contact.

With regards to that: The irony in my life is that, with my lack of much free time, automated agents, aggregators, and weblogs have given me more personal contact with human beings than I might have been able to achieve without them. I'm trying to remember the thread a few months ago between DaveWiner, JonUdell, and others concerning humans with the uncanny ability to connect other people together. This very thing was supposed: That aggregators and weblogs could augment one's ability to act as such a superconnector. In that regard, I consider my agents, aggregators, and weblogs as integral to me as the new and improved pair of glasses I picked up last week. Just as I can't see road signs without my glasses, I can't keep track of people without my agents.


Update: And happily, Greg Graham, someone I've not met before, sends me an unexpected TrackBack ping and invites me to another blog I've never visited.


Archived Comments

  • I'm not sure what is going on.. I pinged http://www.decafbad.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi?tb_id=89 with the following parameters: url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.intertwingly.net%2Fblog%2F848.html title=Automating%20human%20contact excerpt=Ditto.%20 blog_name=Sam%20Ruby And got the following response: 0
  • Ugh. Well, one problem fixed - so I can see your comment now (though the tags disappear). Not sure about the TrackBack response, though. Hopefully it's a momentary artifact of my server move.
  • Odd, the other eventually trackback showed up. I just posted another trackback to two blogs simultaneously. The other one showed up, but I see nothing here.
  • I agree with you strongly, l.m. I believe the cries of "those others" you mentioned stink of elitism and a "let them eat cake" kind of attitude. The more connected and in the most automated fashion, the better. It's about self-expression yes, but isn't it also about discovery?
  • The trackback ping doesn't seem to be working from my MT either. I pinged this entry but I don't see it after several minutes. I'm assuming that's the server migration problem that you mentioned. Good luck with the move, that's rough.
  • Forget what I just said, after posting this comment, the trackback appeared. Weird. I'm assuming no causal connection, only possible explanation I can muster is some proxy caching issue or the like.
  • SmartReferer is a proposal for a system that's - IMHO - simpler and more flexible than PingBack to automatically add two-way links to the web. You can find it here: http://www.oinko.net/smartreferer
  • This is a very informative website! Very interesting!