May 29, 2003


In film or on the street, people who describe themselves to you are lying. Here is the difference: In the bad film, the fellow says, 'Hello, Jack, I'm coming over to your home this evening because I need to get the money you borrowed from me.' In the good film, he says, 'Where the hell were you yesterday?' -- David Mamet, On Directing Film

The core challenge of the weblog is simply that we're always coming into the middle of the story. If you're always explaining, you'll never get around to what matters. Where the hell were you yesterday? But the reader is always walking in at the wrong moment. How can anything make sense, if you're not always explaining?

People figure it out. That's what people do -- they build chains of cause and effect. But they'll only take the trouble to figure it out if you make them care -- which means, in the end, if you show how much it matters to you. Where the hell were you yesterday?

Links help. People will construct theories about what's happening. As things happen -- as they come back tomorrow to see how it turned out -- they'll often discover that their theories weren't quite right. (You'll discover the same thing, too: sometimes you don't get the job, or the girl. Some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains.) But links let people figure out what happened before, helping them form better theories.