Horizontal Contributions

Horizontal Contributions

Since I am thinking in a very Google Wave like mode I thought I’d share another thought related to the tectonic change that platform may inspire. In the days after watching the video of the Wave demo I’ve been finding myself thinking about how much of our online cnversations we are missing. In the Universe the Wave has led us to conversations happen in lots of places, but are instantly available in one central place — the Wave client. What I mean is that I can start a Wave, embed it in a page, and let people contribute from all over the place. The power in what I am understanding this whole thing to look like is that these contributions are not only available in the context of the submission (perhaps a comment on an embedded wave on a blog), but also in the original Wave. What I am pulling from this is that I can, via my Wave client, revisit my social contributions in context without revisiting all the sites. Just this idea has me really spinning.

So if I apply this to the notion of the traditional blogging platform I can see where this could be really important. Here at PSU we promote our Blogs at Penn State as a publishing platform … one that is powering new forms of ePortfolios. Last summer while working with Carla Zembal-Saul we explored and shared the idea that the portfolio is more than a single person’s thinking, but also a place to engage conversations. So if we look at the fact that someone commenting enhances my own artifact, then shouldn’t we think about the comments we leave elsewhere as part of our overall evidence as well?

If I think about it, lots of times I stumble across an old blog post someone created that I’ve commented on at one point and I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I read those comments and think that I should have a way to move that content back into my own space — even if it means I can only review it out of the context of the original post. With all that said, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll call horizontal contributions. In a vertical sense we contribute original posts in our own space and people comment on them. Then if I show up at your blog, I can contribute a comment in that same vertical sense. In a horizontal model I have some sort of tracking that allows me to see not only all my own posts, but also my comments across the entire web. This would give an opportunity to gather these as further evidence of my overall contributions online.

This isn’t Wave specific per se as there are third party commenting engines that do stuff like this — if everyone on the social web used them. I’m not promoting a tool like Disqus for general use, but in an environment like ours we could easily replace our MT commenting engine with a third party one. It would be integrated into the templates so it would be invisible to users. What would need to happen is shibboleth integration, but we’ve done that before. I think it is something we’ll explore … and if we do I’ll be sure to share what we find. What do you think about this thinking? Crazy talk or is there something to it?

4 thoughts on “Horizontal Contributions

  1. Clearly, you and Brad have been sitting around the whiteboard again! I would definitely dig this thinking because it means reducing the amount of “separate” tracking we still have to do manually for the things we contribute in digital dialogues. Aggregating them further would make life easier and more importantly, help us create add deeper meaning to the conversations we are having out there. Too often we contribute and lose track of it and never get as much out of the conversation as we could.

  2. Again, I agree and will be blogging more about Google Wave over the next week or so – identifying different, I think rather obvious, use cases.

    Absolutely one of the most intriguing aspects of Wave, for me, is the ability to embed Waves and communication into blogs and other locations while maintaining the connection to and ability to monitor via the Wave interface.

    I alluded to this in an earlier comment, but if this blog post were a wave. You happen to be in front of your Wave interface. You could/would see me typing this comment – letter for letter – and if you chose, immediately start responding as well. So, the comment instantly transforms into a public IM type communication while retaining the persistent quality of a comment. And, as I understand it, if the Wave is public, anyone later that wanted to see the conversation could play it back and then contribute. Then you and I both could watch that comment being added and it becomes a chat room type experience.

    I don’t think you’re any crazier than you were before last Thursday 😉


  3. @Matt Meyer I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of the stuff BK and I are cooking up in the lab … I think it lives right in the middle of the work you are doing with Chris Long. The idea that students can participate in an ongoing digital dialogue across the web and still grab those as evidence is a critical next step. I am very hopeful of the direction we are pointing in.

    @ cmduke Still crazy … just a bit more energized! I am, like you, stoked to see Wave in practice. Until we get our hands on it we’ll be left to speculate and dream. Nothing wrong with that!

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