A debate is erupting in the blogosphere about whether it’s okay or not for comments on blogposts (or other user generated content) to be splintered off in various RSS readers or social media aggregators, such as Shyfter or FriendFeed or any of a number of other services that enable users to project their lifestreams into them.
This is indeed an interesting discussion, as we are just now on the cusp of the Social Web, a complex ecosystem with as-yet undefined rules. Their will be identity providers (OpenID providers, such as Yahoo!, AOL, Clickpass, and some day, Microsoft), online identity consolidators (i.e. Google Social Graph API and Plaxo public profiles), portable social graph providers (hmmmm, stay tuned), and myriad feed aggregators (seems like a new one every week; first Plaxo Pulse, last summer, and now in recent weeks: FriendFeed, Iminta, SocialThing, etc.).
There is a real tension here: Comments out on the anonymous web tend toward the sophomoric; whereas comments inside circles with identity bring out the best in people. Right now, in the absence of the full-blown open Social Web, we see various experiments underway that try to bridge that gap. In the process, it appears that comment threads are being “stolen.” I don’t think anyone is really trying to make a big play based on hijacking the comment thread.
There’s a bunch of interesting problems to be worked on here, and I expect rapid progress.
Update: Robert Scoble has jumped into this “bitchmeme” saying the “Era of blogger’s control is over.” I agree that bloggers should embrace the organic spread of their influence through the conversation fragments across the web, but also think we tool providers can apply some smarts to the problem to stitch some of this stuff back together.