December 30, 2003

Beyond Weblogs

We know how important weblog are. And we have learned, gradually, that traditional weblogs aren't enough.

Simple chronological order gives new things prominence, and that's important. This is the great contribution of Blogger and its kin. But, in time, posts pile up. Soon, they wind up in the archives -- and weblog archives are almost useless. Making new things visible -- and encouraging frequent updates, is terrific. But, alone, it's not enough.

Google makes a difference, because Google finds a use for weblog archives. That's real value. But it's not enough.

Categories make a difference, by providing topical archives. That's important, because categories help isolate some posts of lasting value. But category pages just postpone the original weblog crisis, because eventually the category pages themselves fill up. Categories are great -- and Tinderbox agents make categories (like this one) really easy to assemble on the fly -- but categories aren't enough.

Links make the difference. That's the lesson of Fagerjordian weblogs, which add a network of meaningful connections to extend and restructure weblogs into organic and lasting resources. From Channel Z to Fagerjord to Miller's remembrance agent, rich linking is the new direction in weblog design.

When Pat Delaney question weblogs as a writing environment, writing that "it was clear from the beginning that a blog's potential as writing space was matched by its limitations," the big limitation is the intractability of that long, long scroll. We're used to it, we've adapted to its limitations and we've designed around it.

So, here's the seed of a new beginning. Not much visible change -- just some dim links that follow some posts, links that look pretty much like category links. But there's more here: