Dave Winer, the father of blogging and RSS, says that blogs are not primarily a means of conversation. Rather, they’re primarily about sharing your thoughts and things you’ve discovered. Search engines (and I would add hyperlinks and RSS) then connect your blogged ideas to others who are thinking about/struggling with similar issues. In Dave’s words, “I blog to share discoveries, large and small, mundane and profound and everything inbetween.” He doesn’t feel it’s his job as a blogger to write things that provoke a reaction.
I really like this idea that bloggers should share what’s on their minds, without concern about whether it will get others talking or draw attention and traffic. Having said that, I still think blogs are a means of public conversation. It’s simply a different kind of conversation. It’s a distributed, asynchronous conversation in which many people are talking at once and many people are listening at once. Blogs are about “shared discovery,” as Dave put it, and conversation. These two different ways of thinking about blogging are not at odds. If you’re thinking that “conversation” means comments and reactions to a post, then your view of the term “conversation” is too limited.
As I’ve said before, I like blogging much better than forums because they’re driven by the blogger’s creativity, writing ability, and personality. Unlike forums, they’re not dependent on achieving a critical mass of community in which some people pose questions or make comments and then others react. And blog posts do contribute to the public conversation whether or not anyone reacts or comments.