Sometimes it is fun to look back, and today I want to take a quick look back at the early stages of blogging, and examine the relevance of a term that many of you are probably familiar with…trackbacks. Flash back six years ago when blogging was a very new idea and had yet to develop into what we have today.
Before comments really caught on, it was common for a blog post’s conversation to spill over to several blogs, because bloggers would post their “comment” on their own weblog and give their takes. The problem was, this often made it difficult for a reader to follow conversations. As a result, the trackback was invented by the team over at Six Apart for their Movable Type software (and eventually Typepad, etc.). Eventually, other blogging software (include WordPress) adopted this method so readers could see a post, then see who was talking about it.
In the years since then, pingbacks were created to be easier to send are less vulnerable to spam. People that don’t have a blog will usually leave comments. To me, this begs the question…do we really need trackbacks any longer? When was the last time you received one that wasn’t spam? In my opinion, blogging has outgrown the trackback and the pingback has made it irrelevant.
As for the pingback, I think it is great for now. I do think, however, that we are headed towards blogs using something like a Google Blog Search or Technorati to display on each individual blog page a ”who is talking about this post” module, which would make the pingback fairly irrelevant as well. All it would take is for Google to put a little more focus in improving their Google Blog Search or Technorati to narrow their focus in this type of area so that page load times wouldn’t take a drastic hit.
Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but I figured I would throw it out there and get your thoughts on trackbacks and where blogging is headed in the future.