Happy Cog launched their company blog, Cognition, last Thursday. As well as a nice, slick design, they’ve removed traditional inline comments- the site allows you to tweet your comments directly to your Twitter account or insert a link to a response on your own blog.
They have over 330 comments so far, the vast majority from Twitter and they range from being congratulatory, for the new-ish approach to comments by using Twitter (including their real nice implementation), to condemnation- 140 characters is quite limiting, didn’t you know?
There has been very little said on the option to post a link to your own relevant blog post, which in my humble opinion, is a real brave, positive step for blogs and the web as a whole. It is the one feature I really have to applaud those smart people at Happy Cog for doing- I feel it should be celebrated a lot more than Twitter commenting.
I think the new comment system is a brave step forward simply because the value of original, long-form written content seems to be forgotten in recent years. You visit people’s websites and all they have is links to a random bunch of social network profiles, Twitter pages and Flickr pages. You might also get their travel plans too.
I’m not saying that these have no value, but when they exist on their own, they’re pretty lonely. I see some of my favourite blogs as the glue that binds their author’s online (and possibly real) life together. I don’t mind seeing where they are travelling to or looking at their photos or reading their tweets, because through their blog, I have gotten to know them so much more than if I had just visited their social network profiles- social networks compliment blogs and vice versa.
I think the Cognition blog is also a positive move forward, as it not only recognises the value of traditional blog posts, it also actively encourages people to write a response or add to the discussion created on the Cognition blog.
If a topic came up on the Cognition blog, one that I was passionate about and I felt that I needed to add my voice to the discussion, I wouldn’t use Twitter. I would sit down and write a blog post, adding my two cents to the discussion and possibly furthering the discussion.
If they had traditional inline comments, I’d feel half-obliged to post my thoughts there- more than likely discouraging me completely or at the very least, inhibiting my opinion (posting an opinion, either agreeing or disagreeing, can be daunting, especially on someone else’s website.) Then there’s the possibility that when the blog migrates to a newer CMS or shuts down, your comment/thought/opinion will be lost forever. With this new way of promoting a discussion, everyone becomes responsible for their own piece, their own opinion.
There have been a number of blog authors who have no comments on their blog and would encourage others to write blog posts in response to the original blog post, rather than comment on the original blog post- Jeremy Keith has been quite vocal on his blog in relation to comments.
I think that Happy Cog have really shown a deep understanding of the web and what is good for the web. This isn’t a smooth marketing gimmick for them to flex their creative muscles- it’s a genuine effort to educate web professionals and to promote an active discussion over topics important to our industry. The beauty is that it is not a discussion just on their patch of the web, it spreads right across the web.
As it should.