Google announced that they have implemented a moderated comment system for Google News that allows subjects of news items to add their perspective and have that view cited next to the story. The back and forth in Google News comments will be interesting, but a bit dizzying as well.
The 2004 book Softwar, which tells the Larry Ellison/Oracle
story, employed a model where Larry was allowed to insert his personal observations
as footnotes into the text. In Softwar, the narrative presented by the author,
Economist editor Matthew Symonds, is often discounted or re-spun through Larry’s
footnotes. This forces a higher level of engagement and attention from the
reader who, in order to take meaning away from the book, must assess the
veracity of Larry’s narrative in contrast to the story the author has cooked
up. Larry’s footnotes and comments in Softwar provide more information, but the
format requires more work on the part of the reader to parse through the
The way reputation plays out in blog comments presents a similar challenge. Last week I described the story of Wellsphere and their CEO as told by Uncov and in user comments on Valleywag and Techcrunch. 5 commenters left responses to my post – which is curious since only 3 people regularly read this blog. The skirmish for control of the Wellsphere narrative in the comments section on my sparsely read blog reveals how closely Internet users monitor even the most obscure blogs for mentions of themselves or their companies and then use comments to pile on or contradict the points raised in the post.
The debate dynamics in play in comment sections are great for getting the full spectrum of opinion on a given post but they also create a real challenge for the time challenged reader who is looking to read a post and form a conclusion. With the innovation happening in the Comment Management space around products like Intense Debate and SezWho – more comprehensive visibility into comments and commenters is coming. Ideally these systems will make it easier to net out an opinion from controversial blog posts with many contradictory comments. Google News comments is sure to be a battleground for PR firms and spin masters – getting meaning from stories there will get more challenging.