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“The conversation is getting away from me…” (more reflections)

Thanks to all who’ve commented on my last post and who’ve caused me to think and reflect deeply (and who’ve caused me a lack of sleep…).

I’m now reconsidering the cocktail party metaphor because, as Vicki suggests, the bloggers who generate the most conversation are not actually conversing much with each other (i.e. Richardson doesn’t comment much on Warlick and vice versa).  Also, Will commented that there’s no saturation point for good ideas.  So, now I’m thinking about the “marketplace of ideas.”  If the blogosphere is idea-centric and not author-centric then each blog is like a booth at a giant, amorphous flea market of ideas. 

If we accept that metaphor, then I’m still left wondering if that marketplace can get too diffuse.  Maybe Will is right in that there is no saturation point for good ideas, but is there a point at which there is too much diffusion?   This conjures images of the AERA conference a couple of weeks ago.  Gobs and gobs of good ideas (and plenty of bad ones) about education were being presented, but the conference is so damn big that the conversations are dispersed and not particularly participatory.  And, walk into the exhibit hall and there is literally a marketplace of ideas in print form; dozens of publishers of books also presenting good ideas.  But, many of those books are part of the same conversation and, yet, they don’t get connected.

So, is there a need for organizational structure?  With full recognition that the blogosphere is amorphous, non-linear, etc., I feel a need for an aggregator of ideas; I need an aggregator of aggregators.  For example, I got 9 comments on my post (whoops…#10 just came in as I was writing).  Vicki wonderfully took my idea and wrote about her thoughts at her blog.  As of this writing, she has 18 comments to that post.  I wanted to stay a part of the conversation, and felt I had three options: add another comment to my post, comment on Vicki’s post, or write a new post.  Obviously, I chose the latter.  And, Scott is threatening to take me to task.  That will certainly generate more related conversations over at his blog.  I feel like the conversation is getting away from me.

Something similar happened not long ago.  I posted a graph showing the relationship between math achievement and levels of computer use.  I got two comments.  But, apparently Scott e-mailed Dan Meyer (he of dy/dan fame) who blogged about it.  He did link to my post, but I didn’t hear or know about it until a week or so later when I happened to see on Technorati that there was a response on his blog.  His post generated 20 comments on his blog.  That conversation definitely got away from me.

So, yes, it’s great that I started a conversation (actually, I probably just re-ignited a previous conversation) that is spawning additional related conversations.  But, I guess what I feel a need for is some kind of conversation aggregator (BTW, blog carnivals don’t do the trick for me; they’re more like electronic newsletters and articles/posts/ideas have to be submitted).  I don’t want my own learning to become like herding cats of information.

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