Improving The Noisy Channel: A Call for Ideas

Over the past five months, this blog has grown from a suggestion Jeff Dalton put in my ear to a community to which I’m proud to belong.

Some milestones:

  • Over 70 posts to date.
  • 94 subscribers, as reported by Google Reader.
  • 100 unique visitors on.a typical day.

To be honest, I thought I’d struggle to keep up with posting weekly, and that I’d need to convince my mom to read this blog so that I wouldn’t be speaking to an empty room. The results so far have wildly exceeded the expectations I came in with.

But now that I’ve seen the potential of this blog, I’d like to “take it to the next level,” as the MBA types say.

My goals:

  • Increase the readership. My motive isn’t (only) to inflate my own ego. I’ve seen that this blog succeeds most when it stimulates conversation, and a conversation needs participants.
  • Increase participation. Given the quantity and quality of comments on recent posts, it’s clear that readers here contribute the most valuable content. I’d like to step that up a notch by having readers guest-blog and perhaps going as far as to turning The Noisy Channel into a group blog about information seeking that transcends my personal take on the subject. I’ve very open to suggestions here.
  • Add some style. Various folks have offered suggestions for improving the blog, such as changing platforms to WordPress, modifying the layout to better use screen real estate, adding more images, etc. I’m the first to admit that I am not a designer, and I’d really appreciate ideas from you all on how to make this site more attractive and usable.

In short, I’m asking you to help me help you make The Noisy Channel a better and noisier place. Please post your comments here or email me if you’d prefer to make suggestions privately.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

5 replies on “Improving The Noisy Channel: A Call for Ideas”

It would be nice if blogs weren’t so linear in their progression.. arranged by post date.I’d much rather see a blog that was arranged topically, with clusters of posts on similar themes. That way, comments and participation in the blog wouldn’t just disappear as time and posts marched on, but could be organized into some sort of database of knowledge and/or into a more permanent ongoing discussion about interesting, broad, recurring themes. Within a theme, time-based linearity would still be ok, to some degree. But what I really dislike about blogging is how broad themes get overwritten and lost, because of this “sort by recency” organization.(To a certain extent, Greg Linden does a nice job of overcoming this problem by, in a current post, linking back to the 2, 3 or sometimes even 5 previous posts that he’s done over the past few years that are related to the current topic. But as nice of a job as he does at this, it’s still very much a manual process, and recent, interesting comments on those older posts still get lost forever just through the very organizational nature of the blog.)Hey, that’s a similar problem, almost, to the issue of a linear presentation of ranked results with in search engines! Just going through search engine results linearly, like going through blog posts reverse-time linearly, obscures larger trends in the data!So maybe all I am asking is for you to reinvent the whole platform of blogging. 😉 But seriously, blogs need some way of pooling broader discussion and participation beyond just the per-post comments section.


Jeremy, I think some of this will be possible in a more supporting blogging platform. I do use the tags on Blogger, but I’m a bit haphazard about them, and I think I need to start being more systematic, now that I’m approaching 100 posts. One thing I plan to do is look back on those posts and try to group them into overarching themes–not just to better organize them, but also to help ensure that those themes receive more attention in the future.Oh, and I’d seen Greg’s blog before, but this was a good reminder to add it to my reader. Thanks!


Daniel,While tags would help, I guess what I am also asking for is a comments section that operates at the topic level, rather than at the post level.Sure, you could tag each of your posts. But then the comments threads would still be per-post. There wouldn’t be any sort of tag-global, or topic-global, way of carrying on a discussion around that topic.So tags are a good first step, but blogging platforms as a whole still need to evolve. Tags don’t solve everything.


Ah, that’s a great idea, but I don’t know how easy it will be to implement. Maybe it’s as simple as creating topic-specific comment feeds and showing those on any post tagged with that topic. But I’m not sure how that will work, since multiple comment feeds for each post could be confusing. But I’ll mull over the concept.


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