Monthly Archives: February 2007

measuring conversations…how do you do that?

I’ve just looked up this recursive word. It’s the second time in three days someone has used it in their blog post and it has sent me to unpack boxes at home looking for our dictionary (the shelves are coming next week in case you are wondering about the significance of my header). Anyhow it is a term from maths which explains my lack of familiarity with it. And it means

“consisting of rules which allows value or meaning to be determined with certainty”.

I will need to talk to my other half when he gets back from his current world travels as he was a mathematician BUT wouldn’t it be great to have such a thing in the non-maths world?

Tom Glocer applies it to blogging at Davos (this is the bit of his quote I missed out yesterday)

Recursive Loops — Davos 2007
In the 1980s in my C++ computer class at University, I learned a powerful coding technique called recursive algorithms. The concept was simple: a given function keeps calling itself and repeating the same instructions until the result is produced.The technique finally seems to have caught on in Davos

Or put my way: The more people blog the conference, the more they blog the conference (rules), the conversation is created (values and meaning), but what is the measure of engagement (result)?

Is the volume of posts produced the measure of the result? Or is the quality of the conversations produced the measure of the result?

Beth Kanter’s post todaytakes this further. How do we use social media tools to extend conversations both online and offline – I mean in First Life!

There is a serious point here for me. As I was trying to figure out yesterday how to measure participation or describe it, my colleague Robin Hamman, pointed me to a collection of posts on this very theme of measuring engagement or participation. A lot of thinking is going on.

It looks like we’ve finally got our first big UK blogosphere fight of the year and it’s about stats. Rather boring, you might think, but The Guardian’s Simon Waldman has made an insightful post challenging the Telegraph’s claim to the title of UK’s busiest quality newspaper website.

Waldman’s post is well worth a read since it not only contains a plethora of statistics for newspaper websites, but because it also discusses the shortfalls of relying on each, or indeed all, as an appropriate measurement. Which reminds me… I need to go back and re-read the interesting post about measuring engagement that I bookmarked the other day.

This is all very timely for me, as I research away for a seminar I am preparing. But it came in handy too at a meeting at work today which I can’t describe in detail but about the BBC’s Blog Network something I worked hard on behind the scenes to set up. It’s always helpful when colleagues publish info about what we are up to and it all started when Nick Robinson started his blog in December 05, and blogged the imminent birth of our blog trial. It’s been almost a year since the main body of blogs launched and naturally enough we are discussing the impact of it all in terms of , participation, conversation and more. It lead someone to come up with a phrase that may well become a classic …”perhaps not all comments are born equal then?” I only hope he blogs about it so I can talk about it some more!

One of the comments on Beth’s blog intrested me. Michelle Murrain ends on a measured note

But, there are times, I think, when it makes sense to actually make everyone put their laptops away, and there are times to have lots of liveblogging, IRC, etc. going. It’s just a matter understanding what is most appropriate in a given situation

But if we are just migrating our behaviour from offline to online I would ask how do you measure a conversation in real life? By the number of people you are talking to at any one time? By the number of things you say? By how many times other people butt in? By the quality of the answers you get. Or from a more subjective feeling about whether it was a good conversation or not. And is this then what we need to measure in terms of engagement online?

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Filed under Blogging, conferences, Davos07, engagement, measuring, research