Ping is such an odd little word. In network terms, it amounts to a sort of detection. If your ping is answered, then you know something is there. But this fundamental part of network behavior is changing because of automated garbage. The surrender was swift and seemingly final. I don’t understand.
I suppose I will never really surrender my romantic conception of authorship—that is authorship which is equated with both control and responsibility. I never used blogger (except in the classroom) because I want to have control over the disposition of my data. More and more, aspects of the social behavior on the web are co-opted by aggregators. I find little difference between Technorati, Bloglines, or Google. It all amounts to social control of interaction, whether by algorithm or hive-mentality. It is a shift into the privileging of founders of discursivity over authorship. Page-rank matters more than expertise, and the origin matters less than the interconnection with a common source.
People fight for the right to comment because it is, in effect, a scrawling on the margins of someone else’s thought. Commenters don’t want to be silenced because someone might abuse the privilege. However, the ability to produce derivative works from other works and give them the courtesy of a personal ping to tip the hat must now be channeled through the likes of “Ask Jeeves” or other tracker of popularity. The net just got colder, in my estimation. Not because the relatively private tool of pinging has been surrendered, but because nobody noticed. It seems really easy to abdicate the responsibility for “cleaning one’s own yard” to another service. But this is, I believe, something that must be paid for.
The communities are being enclosed into neighborhoods; I think I’d rather stay in my cardboard hut on the edge of town. I don’t need a butler to clean up my trash. I don’t mind using these net butlers help to “fetch” things for me, to track and sort lists of things. But controlling interaction is another matter entirely. I think controlling and being responsible for my own writing is important—and this includes maintaining the communication channels which, at least for now, I have left open.