The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Post first, explain later

Before the web, the most common way of publishing was the book and the magazine article. Printed or written text is, by its nature, linear. The style of writing that developed under these conditions was linear as well. You start with the basics and move on to the more complex stuff.

A website is something completely different. The idea of a website is to chop the information into tiny chunks that are not intended to be read in a particular order. They are just linked according to mutual relevance. This can be difficult to learn if you are used to the linear approach, and before site search became easily available, it could be a difficult task to make the content easily accessible.

Simple websites, as they dominated the first ten years of the web, are a dying breed, but wikis continue to use the same concept. The differences are not so great. Wikis deal far better with growth, mainly due to two features: categories and redlinks. Categories automatically grow with the site, and redlinks allow you to link to articles you haven’t written yet without leading your visitors on a wild goose chase. The “community” aspect isn’t relevant in this context.

Blogs, on the other hand, were created for a very specific function: to document an ongoing process. Blogs are supposed to be followed, the content published in them is assumed to become less relevant over time. The RSS feed automatically generated by WordPress does not announce changes to older posts. And the posts, whether in general or within a tag or category, will always be listed or displayed in the reverse order they were written. WordPress does offer the feature of “pages” which are time-independent, but tags, categories or post types are not available for them.

Now, what about a blog that does not document an ongoing process of any kind? There are more and more of them, since blogging software is currently the most easily accessible CMS of them all. Tumblr and WordPress have become the new GeoCities, the easiest way to start publishing on the web for personal interest.

This requires a new approach to handling information. When I started Vivat Crescat Floreat, my approach was influenced by the old linearity. When I got interested in the Lady Godiva motif, I posted with a clip from the Maureen O’Hara movie as a sort of overture, then started with the origins of the legend and worked my way chronologically to Tennyson’s poem.

That was not a good idea, not a good idea at all. It is far better to accumulate some material first, over time, starting with what needs least explanation. In a historic context, this will often be the newest material. Start here and work your way back, and leave the overview, the historical explanation for last, when you can refer to all the material you’ve already posted.

Post first, explain later.


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