The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

BLOGS AND THE PAPER-TOWEL-ROLL PROBLEM
Blogging about blogging strikes me as hopelessly inbred. But I suppose you should devote at least a little time to form and craft, especially as it relates to the capabilities and formats available under your blogging tool/content management system.

To wit: Kathryn Cramer is frustrated with the top-down format of blog posting, especially the lack of easy intra-blog cross-linking and presentation. A discussion on this with Whump led to a rough idea structure:
1. As you write, you put sections of a post in DIVs with unique ids...

2. You link between the divs.

3. When displaying the page, your onload handler sets the proper initial state for showing and hiding the divs, and binds onclick events that show and and hide.

4. The reader then bounces around the long post as if it were a little Hypercard or WML stack.
This is the sort of thing I'd have to see actually applied in order to get, but as I'm comprehending it, this makes longer blog posts somewhat more interesting to read and understand. A 3,000-word post, depending on topic, amount of linkage and blockquoting (Cramer cites this post as the reason for exploring alternative structure), might have a better presentation if the reader were able to hyperlink-jump to different portions of it, instead of scrolling up and down.

I don't know how much of this extends to overall cross-linking within a blog--that is, linking back to older posts. I do that a lot, as I tend to revisit topic areas. It's sometimes a chore, especially since I can't categorize entries on Blogger; but even if that were available, I'd think it would still be something dependent upon my memory of having written about it before (aided by this blog's search engine).

I've been thinking lately of making use of the trackback utility here to provide links on older post that lead to later follow-ups. There would be cross-linking in any case, but unlike now, where there's no indication on the older posts that something new has been written, a trackback entry would provide a link to a forwarded section of the blog to read further. I know Technorati might be useful for this (when Technorati is actually running smoothly--it seems to conk out at least three or four times a day, in my experience), but this would be a more integrated solution. Might be worth more thought here.