There are many ways to sort blog posts:
- calendar (by date/month/year)
…but what about as a series of posts, “the way posts are connected by a theme or are related to each other”.
At the moment if I’m writing a post I am often referencing earlier posts of mine…so, in the current post I link to these past posts that will explain what I’m refering to in my current post.
If I categorise and tag my posts correctly this will help me find these past posts I want to refer to, I’m fine with this
…but what I find a chore, is once I’ve published the current post, is going back to these past posts and adding a link to the current post…as this serves as a continuation of the story or concept. So, the problem is not finding these past posts, I’ve already found them and linked to them within my current post, the chore is to go to each one and update it with a link to the current post. If I’m referencing 5 past posts, this means opening up each one and adding a link to the current post, this takes time, and it is boring anyway, but once done it pays off.
Some people would say you don’t have to bother if you use tags, but sometimes even tags aren’t granular enough, sometimes you want to explicitly link one post to another.
A while back I came across Web-log Continuum Sparklines…which addresses this issue perfectly…it automated the process plus adds much more value.
From the post:
“A simple Web-log post continuum sparkline could plot the current post a reader is viewing, the previous posts it references, and the later posts that reference it. This paints a picture of where the current post originated (what ideas it draws from), and where it went (how those ideas evolved). “
The sparkline sits at the end of the post…the previous posts it references is marked in this timeline (sparkline) even though you can find them in the post, but having them in the sparkline shows how the overall big picture is evolving.
The best part that solves my issue is that these past posts will automatically be given a link in its sparkline to the current post…I don’t have to go back and do it manually for each post I’ve referenced…exactly what the doctor ordered.
So now to see if someone has made this concept into a reality, I would use it in a flash…actually it would have to be in css.
More on sparklines in general:
Stowe relates it to a community.
Sparkline Generator Web Application
Some examples from a sparkline wiki.
Another great value for a sparkline, besides a timeline of an idea/concept, is the simple retro annotating it does…this is handy for posts that are out of date.
What I mean by out of date is…if a past post reviews a web service it may say the service lacks a feature, but now in a current post you say that it has gained a feature…so the old post is not technically wrong, but it is out of date.
So, an updated link in the old post pointing to the new post would point people directly to the latest developments.
A sparkline could do this, but this is even simpler than a sparkline, it would be a plugin that would automatically put a link in an old post to the current post, but only if it was told to do so.
When you are publishing your current post, you could say, update these past posts with a link that points to this post.
You wouldn’t want this to automatically happen, via pinging, because every old post you link to in the body of the current post will be pinged, and you might only want this to happen with a selection of the outgoing links.
So I guess my suggestion is like trackbacking your own posts (whether you link to them in the body of your current post or not).
Maybe this has solved my issue, but still a trackback is not within the body of a post, so people may not see it, also it can be the 85th item in your trackbacks, so it may not be noticed…and also trackbacks aren’t visible when posts are re-syndicated.
So, my idea is to trackback your earlier posts from a current post, but for it to land in the body of the post (preferably at the end or start of the post) eg. Update 1 (28/02/06).
Hang on, an earlier post from the Functioning Form (11 posts before the Sparkline post) explains exactly what I want and is implemented into the blog.
At the end of each post it says:
“This topic is further explored in:”
From the post:
“These links automatically appear at the end of entries that are later referenced on […] this lays out a contextually relevant path for readers who are interested in how a particular idea has continued to evolve on this blog.”
Now where do I get one?
Weblog weirdness talks about a related issue about reading blogs in reverse, oldest to newest posts…sure you can do this in an RSS Reader like Bloglines (not Rojo), but it would be good if you could toggle this at the actual blog.
Also check out this paper, Blog Interface Design 2.0
[ADDED 4/04/06: bstat pulse]