What I've been thinking about...
Here on Tumblr, do we debate? Preach? Converse? Convince? Would you call Tumblr a forum?
Though different users treat Tumblr differently, I’d say it’s closer to Preaching than Conversing. Certain posts certainly get lampooned… but having a meaningful back-and-forth with anyone on Tumblr is just a little unnatural. The venue you want for an open-ended conversation between equals might be called a Forum.
I can’t say I participate in any forums online, though I do encounter them, usually when looking for answers to technical questions. I heard an interview recently with Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, and he said that many have lost touch with the forum because it has failed to stay current, changing little in the last decade in which we saw the rest of online life change completely.
His solution is the developement of discourse.org.
It looks pretty interesting, and I have to admit that most of the dominant social media sites I can think of don’t really fill this niche. Can you have a meaningful conversation naturally on Facebook? Tumblr? Twitter?
The site is still very “beta”, ie under construction. But it promises some interesting features:
And, to some, the most important thing:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the structure of the time I spend online lately, and I’ve been wondering if it’s shaped more by my interests, or by the tools I use to explore. “The medium is the message” - Marshal McLuhan. It might be that if conversation were more what I were looking for, running a forum might be a better bet that “micro-blogging” (as Atwood calls it) here on Tumblr.
You can look around discourse at discourse.org.