Interesting to use a post on distributed conversations to show how distributed conversations work. But I think it’s informative. Alan started this process description, but for my own clarification, I’m going to deconstruct my own. It seems very chaotic as I look at it now, but in practice it’s pretty flow like. The key, seriously, is years of doing it, of learning how to “join loosley” with these ideas and be very much ok with the flimsy connections. Hopefully some others will find this somewhat informative:

1. I read Alan’s post in my Bloglines account Wednesday morning.
2. Through a link in that post, I went to David’s original post and read through it. (Even if I hadn’t found it this way, I would have gotten it my aggregator anyway.)
3. I come back here and write my response at various points in the day, composed much like this post…15 minutes here, 10 minutes there…hard to find extended writing time.
4. Today, in my Bloglines citations, I see that Brian Lamb has linked to my post, and I click through to read his most excellent addition to the conversation that’s been started. (Again, I would have found his post in my aggregator eventually as well.)
5. Brian’s post links me to a post by Stephen Downes (who has been duly added to the top 20 in the Feedster 500 list) that says I made an important point. This makes me happy, and I click through to read Stephen’s whole post (which, once again, I would have gotten in my aggregator eventually.)
6. Back to Bloglines Citations, I find that Ewan McIntosh has also chimed in on the topic. (Again…) He asks a great question:

How can you know if your blog has started a conversation if no-one is leaving comments on your blog?

Which is what gets my head thinking about this post I’m writing right now.
7. Back again to Bloglines Citations, where I find and follow a couple of other links that lead to foreign language blogs. (Wish I knew what they were saying…)
8. A little later, checking my e-mail, I find that Alan has commented here on the original post on my site. I take a few minutes to comment back to him.
9. Later, I go back to Alan’s original post which I’ve saved in Bloglines and see that there are 10, count ’em, 10 references to his post. Most of these are just snips or links I’ve already tapped, but I click through one to find a post by Miguel Guhlin on listservs vs. blog that mentions my RSS guide (which desperately needs an update.) Yay! I spend a little time on Miguel’s blog and realize there is some good stuff here that I might want to track, and voila, he becomes the latest addition to my aggregator. Regarding blogging, he says:

Feeling good…that’s what THIS is about. It allows me to tap into–for a short time each day–that wonderful feeling of being lost in the words, distracted. And, the addiction is getting worse…it’s not a blogging addiction, just a writing one.

Which makes me start thinking about another post I want to blog…er, write…
10. I check out David’s post in Bloglines to find 18 references! I scroll through them quickly and see that I’ve found all of them but one, and that one doesn’t add that much to the conversation.

And this is how it goes, and somehow my brain is able to make sense of it. Actually, by doing this I would say my brain is more exercised by attempting to synthesize these ideas from the distributed conversation and make sense of it here. It’s a work out that I’ve repeated over and over, and I’m not kidding when I say I really think it’s gotten my brain in better shape. It’s active learning. And as Miguel says, it feels good too.