Monday, December 20, 2004

About "a year ago"


Mark Bernstein,
Guantanamo Study,
Poser sketch after
Hiram Powers'
The Greek Slave

A year ago, I was writing a blog note that protested the modern critical theorist's tendency to dismiss our recent ancestors for their ideological faults. They weren't all fools.

Weblogs unfold in time, and regular readers see the new stuff first. That's as it should be. Occasional readers arrive from links and search engines, and they see one old but relevant post first; that, too, is as it should be.

Elin Sjursen is working on some very interesting ideas about renegotiating time in weblog narrative. More on this soon.

But how can we make old writing useful -- and how can we direct attention toward evergreeen posts ? The faults of finding the male gaze under every bed won't be old news tomorrow. A better way of presenting a year ago might help.

One of the nice things about Tinderbox is that you can do something about features like A Year Ago. Your data is yours. For example, I set up my version of A Year Ago to cheat: it looks for the most substantial post that was roughly a year ago, so you're less likely to hear about last year's cheese sandwich.

Same thing with my book notes. At the top of this column, I've provided links to the most notes from my reading weblog. As an experiment, I've replaced the title links with thumbnails of the book covers. These might be more interesting to readers -- and might relieve this extremely text-heavy page. Or, people might dismiss the images as ads for selling books, and find my commentary an impediment. How would I find out which reaction is most important? (Hint: counting noses is probably the wrong methodology)

Update: thoughtful discussion more technology from Martin Spernau.