Best of Article Index

Best of Article Index

I started reviewing my old blog posts last night, going back to the very first ones in 2004. It’s a little embarrassing to read through the earlier posts. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see how my writing style has evolved as my personal focus has clarified.

I came across a message board the other day that mentioned how difficult it was to navigate my site. I totally agree. Now that I have this rough cut of “best of” articles, I can start to build out some sections with a lot more focus. It’ll probably take me a while to get there, so in the meantime, you can see the raw list over on the wiki I set up for this. I’ve got the list backed up elsewhere just in case. There are 283 articles that made the first cut, out of a field of about 1200 entries. They have not yet been put into order.

UPDATE

Here’s a categorized pass of the articles. I now have to start going through them and summarizing them. One thing I’m noticing is that I really don’t like a lot of the titles I’ve picked. I am tempted to rewrite a lot of these articles also; another good reason to make a book version for download.

7 Comments

  1. VERY COOL raw list!  Nice seeing the history of you through articles!

    Goooooooo, Dave!

    ——-

  2. Ivan Brezak Brkan 13 years ago

    Great… Now I’m going to use another 2-3 hours… :D Article index pages are great for first time visitors and browsers.

  3. Jason Kratz 13 years ago

    Hey David-

    I was just listening to Merlin Mann talking about starting out blogging and his advice was basically just to write for awhile to see where it takes you.  He pointed out that more likely you’d end up somewhere you might never have planned ;)  Your comment about your personal focus helps confirm that.

    Keep up the good work!

    Jason

  4. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    Senia: Yes, it IS very nice to see the history. Though I have a desire to re-edit all those posts now so they’re clearer. Sigh.

    Ivan: Hopefully this will save you some time.

    Jason: That is really a good bit of advice; no one believes it though until they actually have gone through it :-)

  5. Nollind Whachell 13 years ago

    Dave the default structure of blogs is something that has been frustrating me for a long time as well primarily because as a “stream” or “river”, once you turn the next bend you often forget what you’ve written before. Therefore there needs to be some way of accumulating a stream of thoughts and being able to visually “pull back” to a higher altitude to view these thoughts in a map-like view (something similar to what Edward Tufte talks about in his books about visualizing information).

    One concept which I haven’t fool around that much with is having four areas or spaces for your writings. First is notes, the second is a journal, the third is articles, and the fourth is a book.

    Notes – Notes are basically random thoughts/things that come to us that have some significance or meaning, yet we can’t logically understand them at this point. It could be something you just thought about or a website you saw that looks interesting.

    Journal – Eventually small pieces of these notes starting connecting together loosely and form a conscious thought with some logical meaning that we can now understand. This is where the journal comes in. These connected notes now can be put together into a journal (blog) entry that makes more sense than the random notes by themselves (and the notes can even be used as references on the entry). Therefore, while each note was a clue to something, each journal entry now is an actually piece of the greater puzzle we’re trying to put together.

    Articles – Eventually a multitude of journal entries on a similar subject are pieced together as well to form a solid well written article that has a strong logical conclusion to it. Think of this as a portion of the puzzle you’ve solved. You can now get a good glimpse at what your working towards.

    Book – And finally the culmination of various articles eventually lead to a solid conscious idea which is you solving the jigsaw puzzle you’ve been working on. Collectively together, these articles form a book on the idea you’ve been working on. Basically you’ve taken your articles and restructured and reworded them to flow cohesively together to complete what you’ve been working on for so long.

    Now the interesting thing I find about this approach is that it keeps your “flow” going. For example, I’ve been hearing recently from people, such as Tara Hunt, that they’re feeling more restrictive by their blogs because they’ve made them more professionally focused and thus they feel they have to spend more time writing something that is well written and structured. Yet in my opinion that isn’t what a blog should be, as it restricts you from letting your thoughts flow naturally. I think this is why so many people enjoy Twitter, as they just let their small thoughts flow without worrying about it being well written.

    Therefore, the notes mentioned above are something similar to Twitter in that you post any minor point that comes to mind, even if you’re not sure of its full “logical” significance yet. Even when you post your journal entries, again you can have some structure, yet it still should be loose and flow. Only when you come to writing an article, should you be fully concerned about formalizing it in a well written piece, since the next step is taking those articles and forming the book which should be totally cohesive and flow together to form the basis of your idea.

    Again the whole premise for this writing approach is a combination of David Weinberger’s small pieces loosely joined idea combined with Tantek’s building block approach (i.e. build larger blocks from smaller blocks).

    PS. Oh one final point to mention as well in terms of the social behaviour in these spaces and access to them. Depending upon the type of person you are (i.e. introvert / extrovert), you may alter the access to these spaces and the ability to comment within them. For example, a highly introverted person may hide their personal notes from everyone and only show their journal to close friends but still disable comments. They may only publicly show their articles and allow comments on them because they’ve fully formalized them with a strong logical foundation that they can defend in a discussion. An extroverted person on the other hand, who loves interaction, may make all of these areas open to the public and allow commenting on all of them. It just depends upon how much interaction you want.

  6. Phil Newton 13 years ago

    I think most bloggers reach a point where they start to struggle with organising the content they’ve produced. I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently.

    The main problem I have is that the standard blog layout promotes “new” over “better”, so the first article a reader sees is not necessarily the best there is. Another problem is that there’s a large amount of text on the page that can be intimidating. My final problem is that the writing needs to be highly focused to stop people from feeling too alienated.

    One of the things I experimented with was using a more “magazine” like template. Whilst it looked a bit better, it effectively reduces the blog to a bi-weekly newsletter. It does a good job of separating content into categories, and gives the reader choices on what to read and what to ignore. However, it’s still the new stuff instead of good stuff, and it takes a lot more effort to update.

    I’m not fond of frequently making big changes to layouts, but I’m really stumped with this problem. The idea layout would do the following:
    * Showcase great content
    * Support both long articles and short updates—perhaps articles need to be moved to another section and a quick “new article” blog entry needs to be made?
    * Easy to update.
    * Gives freedom to the author to write on different topics without alienating their audience.

    I like Nollind’s ideas, and it’s definitely something I want to experiment with over the coming weeks.

  7. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    Nollind: That’s a fascinating distillation. Maybe a useful addition is to not think of blogging as a “form”, but as the intention to share and communicate. Then, we figure out the reason behind the intention.

    Looking back, my blog evolved out of a need to connect with people and to share ideas. I didn’t know where I was going. Once I got going, I could start to see what pieces started to come out of it, and figured out what was working and what wasn’t. Community is something that’s very much on my mind, and community forms around ideals and action. This is driving my site now, and also speaks to your last point. I’ve started to let go of the idea that my website needs to be contained by the blog format, and have actually started creating a new content hierarchy. The blog itself will be for more conversational discourse, and what I’m calling the notebook area will be for “real articles”. I may use the Wiki has an “idea staging area”, which would correspond to your “note” phase.

    I think another expectation, and maybe Tara Hunt was frustrated by this too, is that our content IS OUR IDENTITY. The idea of separating it out into different segments bugs me personally, which is probably why I tend to ramble on like I do. The compromise I’ve made is to focus generally on empowering topics, and introduce relevant stories and insights as they occur to me. It makes the articles hard to categorize sometimes.

    Phil: Yes, exactly what I’m dealing with. I like to write as if I’m talking to people in the room with me, and I wonder how that would translate to the magazine format. On the other hand, I think people do need to find their way easily through my piles of stuff, and the reason why I care is that…um, actually I’m not sure. I guess I want people to connect to what I’m doing, and making it easier to do that is at the top of my mind. The underlying assumption is that people who connect to something on the site will be a likely collaborator or friend, and this benefits everyone.