Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Finished something I’d been stuck on for several days and sent it fwooshing (me, awash with satisfaction) off in the email, and then padded into the kitchen for a coffee refill. Came back in, looked at what I sent one more time to make sure I didn’t misspell anything too embarrassing, and then fired up my RSS Reader and caught up on the traffic from the various worlds that interest me. Maclandia, the design world, the world (or what’s left of it) of TV news.

There, amidst the accumulated feedage, one writer fairly new to the specific world of blogging was trying to delineate what her special-purpose blog would be focused on (limited to?) as opposed the typical ongoing accumulative narration of what one had for dinner last night (me? italian meatloaf at Murphy’s; Sam and I went out with our good friend Tom Burton) or how-one-feels-about-the-state-of-the-world (reply excruciating, ask again later.)

And that made me think a bit about how these systems for maintaining a weblog and sharing the thoughts, data, metadata, feelings, imagery, and dryer-lint are packed with lots of extra power and flexibility to view a weblog’s content in myriad ways and thus, represents another toolset that we, well, really don’t use much.

Do you add tags or categories to your posts? The touted benefit of tagging seems obvious—should one want to, one can just click once to look at a nicely-ordered set of posts about political outrage…and then with a second click, the blog takes on a more floral tone.

Sammy has been fairly diligent in tagging (categorizing, actually) her daily posts, enough so I can say that at last glance there are 71 floral entries as opposed to a mere nine on maps. Nancy has a staggering 96 entries in something called same ol’same ol’ which really is way too self-deprecating…her day to day interests are (I find) anything but routine.

Question is, how often do people actually use these alternative views? How many people diligently tag their posts, or put them into categories? And as or more important, do you use these tools to examine the mental subsets of your favorite blogger? From my experience, no matter how much content or aggregation or plain old interesting stuff is shoved into the database-behind-the-scenes, many visitors to a website like this are focused on two simple words: what’s new?

That’s of course the satisfaction of RSS feeds—they’re almost always about what’s the latest buzz, although I like the content systems that allow you to make a feed out of just about anything. And the sensible-URL capabilities built into WordPress ( gives you everything I wrote in May 2004, hey presto!…and lists everywhere I’ve used the word ‘boing’) really do give you the keys to answering sophisticated questions about what a person has contributed to this fine global web’o’knowledge.

But sometimes the classic context—all the darn entries ordered through time—is the best context for me. I just enjoy reading twentysomething cocoa programmers’ blogs with the code snippets interleaved in and around the relationship crises and the agonies of air travel and the perils of exploding batteries and what the blogger had for dinner last night…because sometimes the mundane illuminates (or at least shades in cool ways) the germane.