Thornton provides a good video, below, which explains the system. Basically, instead of a “most recent” or “most liked” list, you get a visual “comment web” where the most valuable posts appear larger and the threads radiate:
There are a few things I really like here — especially the color-coding system for recent comments and those from staffers. I’m always a bit suspicious of user ratings of comments — in my experience, the crowd is not always wise — but wheat-from-chaff experiments will advance, I hope.
I don’t know how the visual web will look with several hundred comments, or how anxious readers used to linearity will click this option. By the way the Post’s Flash system did not play well with my Mac versions of Safari or Firefox, and for iPhone users, Flash won’t work at all.
Still, the attempt to set up something more dynamic, visual and alogrithmic is really valuable, and may some day add more media-site value to those who aren’t so into writing, or reading, rants.