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March 8, 2006

Help! I'm a Writer Trapped in a Blog's Body

...and my attempts at narrative and exposition are upended by this weird, and-the-last-shall-go-first format. I write up. You scroll down. This may work for glosses on the news. But it can scramble argument, history or story that can't be stuffed into a single post, a single entry.without%20gods%20screenshot.jpg

...and the bits and bites disgorged onto the blog's long, thin page often fail -- no matter how hyper-connected they pretend to be -- to locate among themselves new structures, new organizations. No easy task, that. This backwards chugging locomotive can stop at only one station at a time. Entry A's relationship with Entry B is, consequently, limited to: before, after or linked.

I'm not persuaded by the argument that this is how it ever must be because this is how it has ever been. Seems a bit odd to be celebrating the tried and true in this form of journalism (if that's the category blogging best fits) -- a form of journalism that is, after all, barely old enough for elementary school!

Newspapers, too, began, in the 17th century, by simply placing short items in columns (in this case from top down). So it was possible to read on page four of a newspaper in England in 1655 that Cardinal Carassa is one of six men with a chance to become the next pope and then read on page nine of the same paper that Carassa "is newly dead." Won't we soon be getting similar chuckles out of these early blogs -- where leads are routinely buried under supporting paragraphs; where whim is privileged, coherence discouraged; where the newly dead may be resurrected as one scrolls down.

Early newspapers eventually discovered the joys of what journalism's first editor called a "continued relation." Later they discovered layout.

Blogs have a lot of discovering ahead of them.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at March 8, 2006 11:18 AM


I've thought about this before as well (as I'm sure many others have), and I think the problem is multifold.  Newest first is easy to update, both for the writer and the backend, and easy to read for regular readers, but it's a pain at best to new readers who wish to read a blog thoroughly or readers (such as myself) that might hit a given blog once every week or three.

I think the answer may lie in being able to easily choose from more than one information flow, but that's a fairly vague idea at this point...

Posted by: Dayv at March 21, 2006 12:48 AM

yeah. kind of what we've tried to do here.

Posted by: mitch at March 21, 2006 1:22 AM

So I see.

I think it might also be good for people to begin arranging archives, available in weekly or monthly units, in top-down format. These would make it a lot easier for the reader who wants to catch up on *everything*.

Posted by: Dayv at March 21, 2006 7:09 PM

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