Blog biology

Given our common interests in service-oriented and event-driven architecture, it was inevitable that Brenda Michelson and I would cross paths. The way that it happened, the other day, was routine for me, but I'll describe it here anyway because I know that it isn't yet routine for lots of folks, and it sheds light on one of the subtlest and most interesting aspects of blogging.

Increasingly I think about this stuff in biological terms. I'm a cell; the blog is my cell membrane; the items I post here extrude that membrane out into the intercellular environment, forming a complex surface area with which other cells interact. The other day, a piece of Brenda's extruded surface touched a piece of mine. I know that because my surface is instrumented with a variety of sensors: my referral log,, Feedster, PubSub, Technorati. So when this pseudopod of Brenda's touched this pseudopod of mine, I noticed.

In this case, two sensors reported contact: my referral log, and Technorati. The reference was oblique, so when I visited Brenda's page it took me a moment to find the connection. It came from this paragraph:

Now for some name dropping, and more importantly, the links to learn what they are thinking: Miko Matsumura of Infravio, Annrai O'Toole of Cape Clear, Michael Terner of KnowNow, Ronan Bradley of PolarLake, Frank Martinez of Blue Titan.

Lots of familiar names here, but where was the connection to me? Scanning the links, I found it: the podcast of my interview with Michael Terner, from last December.

By subscribing to Brenda's feed, and then posting this item, I reinforce the connection, and it's cool that things work that way. But the initial discovery is the most amazing thing. It looks like serendipity, and in a way it is, but it's manufactured serendipity.

What if I hadn't posted that podcast? What if Brenda hadn't found it, or hadn't linked to it? What if my sensors had failed temporarily? I can't prove it, but I feel certain that our paths would have crossed anyway. If like minds extrude themselves into the blogosphere, they'll come into contact sooner or later. It happens so naturally that it's easy to lose sight of what a miracle it is.

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