Remember When You Said…

coCommentThis is either the beginning or the middle of a golden age for software, in which, almost literally, any feature set you could want (within reason, of course) is being worked on by somebody somewhere. And if you wait just long enough, exactly such a product will make its debut in the marketplace.

I’ve made this declaration before, and I really do believe it more and more every time one of my half-baked ideas for clever software products is unleashed onto the world in a more complete form by other people. The latest example is coComment, a concept that I wrote about nearly a year ago, but which recently entered a private beta period. coComment is a tool for aggregating all of the remarks that you, as a Web surfer and blog reader, might leave on other peoples’ weblogs. It uses a little JavaScript bookmarklet to almost transparently intercept your comments before you hit the “submit” button to publish those comments to a weblog, and then saves a copy of those remarks to a page of your very own on the coComment servers. The result is an archive of your remarks that might otherwise never be properly assembled into a single location.

You Wrote It, You Own It

From there, it’s easy to include those comments on your own Web site, as I’ve done in the right column of my home page, where the most recent ramblings I’ve left elsewhere appear in a nice little sidebar list (admittedly, I haven’t done much commenting lately).There’s a little bit of AJAX in the user interface, but what kind of Web 2.0 product would coComment be without also providing an automated XML feed for your comments, in both RSS 2.0 and XML formats? Those are there too.

Being somewhat skeptical of the longevity of most Web services, I have a natural desire to have coComment running on my own server, rather than on the company’s servers. I just prefer to keep everything wthin the domain if I can get it; it’s the completist in me, a tendency which I’ll talk more about in a moment. In a sense, I own all of the content that coComment is aggregating for me — I’m the author of each of those remarks, after all — and while it’s a step forward to have that content centralized, it’s still a step or two away from giving me truly direct control of it. But I’m realistic about the possibility that a product like coComment could ever be released in a form that would allow me to run it from my own server. So for now, I’ll gladly take it as is.

What I like about this product so much is how it plays into the grand, unifying idea of personal content creation — not a theory, really, but a desire that many people in this age have of being able to fully assemble everything they do into a single, fully accessible and fully searchable database. It’s a completist’s fantasy, and it’s slowly inching towards reality; coComment is not a full and seamless integration into the central repository of one’s own Web site, but it’s an important step towards that goal. Until now, blog comments were one of the most glaring of the un-index-able content types being aggressively generated online. That’s no longer the case.



  1. I have been using coComment for a while and it is great. One suggestion I would give however that makes things a bit easier is to download the following greasemonkey script that will let you auto populate the comments you make so you you dont have to hit the bookmark.

  2. Presumably one could use the XML generated by CoComment to feed a database stored on, which would protect you to some extent against CoComment closing its doors and taking your data with it? In fact, while I share your ‘completist’s fantasy’, I’d much rather that CoComment took care of the technical aspects of gathering all this stuff and left me the data itself for me to do with what I chose.

  3. That’s a very interesting idea, but it got me wondering. What if you are totally enraged and writing this crazy comment, then you gather your wits, re-read and decide not to comment at all. What if that was saved?

    Since it’s AJAX’d, the possibility of that happening are real. That’s when the power of running a service locally on your own server is reassuring.

  4. Ooh, finally. This could be quite interesting. I still would like a format where the posts were intertwined amongst each other, whether it’s a comment, a post, a quick link, etc.

  5. Regarding Justin’s thoughts, I think it would probably be a good thing if it made people think a little bit more before posting something. I’m a fan of anything that would improve the general quality of the comments people make.

    Aside from that, I fear that it’s one more thing that I’ll start wasting all of my time on.

  6. You make it sound like you’ve used coComment a ton of times, but it looks to me like you’ve only used it twice. Not exactly an enthusiastic endorsement!

    Sounds like you are more fond of the idea than the actual implementation, at least so far.

    What I’d like to see is something even smarter, something that will comb through thousands of blogs (or at least a subset of blogs I identify as places where I have posted interesting comments), finding and collecting all posts by me, and linking to them automatically. Not just resulting from a direct action taken by me each time I’m about to submit a post, like coComment does, but actively seeking posts I’ve made in the past as well. That would be sweet.

  7. I thought this was a crack-pot idea a year ago. Now it has mostly come to pass and I still think it seems only mildly useful. I understand your desire to have everything you write intergrated into one database. I do like that idea. That being said, I’m still not sure why you have a compultion to get it down and in one place. I enjoy reading it so don’t think that I am ungrateful. A product like coComment seems to have a place for you. As the trend goes in another year there will be the next generation of coComment that will better address your desire. Although I may never directly use a product like that, I am thankful if I am taken to more interesting places following some of your comments. One thought about the usefulness of the links is that target “self” seems like it would be simpler.

  8. While I can see some potential in this idea I don’t think that I’ve yet seen a logical implementation.

    The problem with comments is that they can seem totally abstract when displayed away from their original context, leading to a really useless, nonsensical feed to publish and confuse with…

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