I think this is very important, with Business Week or any other magazine, of course, you get letters to the editor. But with the blog, what would be a letter to the editor is a comment that a reader of the blog can just post. It's much easier than writing a letter, it doesn't have to be formal, you don't need a stamp or anything. It's really simple.
Then it's very easy for us to read the comments. And we can respond to them. Again, we don't have space or time limitations, we can respond whenever we have a set of interesting comments, then the commenters, they can go back and forth with each other, so the blog stimulates a kind of interchange that isn't really feasible in the print medium....
What's good about it is that through the comments and through other blogs, as we know from the CBS fiasco, there's extremely rapid communication and correction. So the blogger doesn't have his fact-checking staff, but if you make a mistake, within minutes a bunch of people have descended on you....
What have you thought of what people have posted to the comment areas of the blog?
They have a high-average quality -- I found it also when I did Lessig's blog. The comments are really interesting, they add a lot to it.
It makes for a more participatory relationship. If you read a newspaper, it's a passive experience. You don't have much of a sense of being part of the enterprise. [On a blog] you have regular commenters; they clearly feel they are contributing to this enterprise. I worry a little about people spending too much time sitting in front of the computer doing this stuff.
I had the comments on for a while about a year ago, and I turned them off because I found myself doing so much writing over on the comments pages and because a few people were being abusive. I wanted to concentrate my writing on the front page. These days, I spend a lot of time reading and responding to email, which is really a displaced comments page and an even less "front page" kind of writing for me. I'm impressed by Judge Posner's very pro-comment attitude. So in honor of Judge Posner, I'm turning my comments back on.
Let's see how it goes. I hope some of my regular emailers will switch to comments. I'm going to resist responding too much on the comments pages and maybe save up my response and put it on the front page in an update, which I think will be more efficient (and certainly more public) than responding to email (which I've been doing a lot of). I expect commenters to keep a civil tone, and I think most will, because the email I get is extremely thoughtful, well-written, and not abusive. I'll just delete abusive comments without making a fuss about it. So go ahead and comment.