Blogging is a conversation. It's just a disjointed and time-delayed conversation where you can only hear one or two lines at a time of an international conference call. But if you read enough blogs (which I don't, but I'm working on it), you start to notice common threads and inter-blog influences, and it all starts to come together a little bit. Everyone is talking about what interests them personally, but where those interests overlap, one blog sparks another blogger's imagination and the topic threads its way over to a new blog.
I'm going to call this idea "topical memes", because it needs a name. (Although I bet it already has one, but I'm feeling too lazy for research at the moment.) It's like those quizzes and surveys that make the rounds of people's blogs, but with more creative license. The basic purpose of memes, as far as I can tell, is to get people sharing specific things. And there is something to be said for the framework provided by a survey, because it forces you to think about things you might not otherwise think about, and to formulate answers to questions that you might otherwise avoid. But, honestly, after reading about a dozen or so sets of answers to the same quiz, I start to lose interest.
Here's an example of a topical meme. Not too long ago, Kate blogged about her hair. Inspired by her post, I blogged about my hair, twice. Shortly thereafter, Mollie wrote a post on her blog that started out thus: "All of my LJ friends are talking about hair, so I must as well." That made me feel all warm and fuzzy, because it meant that, across the philotic threads of our internet connections, we were actually having a conversation about our hair. True, the same thing could have been accomplished by sending around a survey that asked about your current hairstyle, but this way each writer was able to add her own style and flair to the topic, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the other hair posts, whereas I usually scroll past surveys until I am so bored for content that I will go back and read them.
A while back, when I first posted my blog roll, I thought it would be nice to link back to other blogs occasionally, to share with my readers what I had been reading. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it, but I didn't want to just randomly tell you, "Check out this blog." That would be like saying, "Read this book." Maybe you will, but you're much more likely to read it if I tell you a little bit about the book and why I liked it. And, maybe I'm flattering myself here, but I think you might even get more out of it if I shared a little bit about how it impacted me personally. So, I decided to do just that. If I read a blog entry that gets me thinking, I will share my thoughts as well as the link.
Then I realized that the two ideas were actually one and the same. My desire to link back to other blogs and share my thoughts on other bloggers' entries was really a demonstration of a topical meme.
As the title of this entry implies, I haven't entirely thought through this topic yet. But I am enjoying contemplating it, and how it might work. I welcome your comments on this, as always. I really enjoy getting comments of all kinds, so if you have a thought to share, please feel free to share whatever's on your mind. And for those of you who have blogs of your own, I encourage you to actively practice topical meming (look, Ma, I verbified a noun!). Keep the conversation going!