2012-12-28

The problem with blogs

I’m a big fan of blogs. After all, I’m writing one, myself. They are the contemporary version of a specialized newspaper. Regularly having new content is exciting and reading blogs is well supported by various apps, thanks to standardized publication formats such as RSS and Atom.

The problem

However, there is one aspect of blogs that I don’t like: They lead to an obsession with new content. Some blog authors have made it a rule not to update posts that are older than a few weeks. Seeing the date of creation for posts is great (I wish all web pages provided this meta-data), but there is a risk of dismissing good content, simply because it’s old. Redistributing old posts tends to be frowned upon at collaborative news sites such as Reddit or Hacker News.

Furthermore, navigating blogs is often difficult, because there is little structure. If you are lucky, posts are well categorized, but even that falls short of proper instructions on where to start reading. Such instructions are especially important for people new to a blog, who want to catch up on existing content.

A partial solution

For 2ality, I took several measures that hopefully neutralize some of the disadvantages of blogs. I often update old blog posts. I link from new posts to related old content and I link from old posts to relevant new posts (e.g. follow-ups). And I have written “guides”, maps to my blog that readers can easily follow.

Additionally, I think we need more content management systems that are a cross between a blog and a wiki – blikis. Martin Fowler describes blikis as follows:

So I decided I wanted something that was a cross between a wiki and a blog – which Ward Cunningham immediately dubbed a bliki. Like a blog, it allows me to post short thoughts when I have them. Like a wiki it will build up a body of cross-linked pieces that I hope will still be interesting in a year's time.
My ideal bliki would be a wiki with extensive support for structuring and navigating content. There would also be a blog-like feed of new content. That feed could include major rewrites of existing content.

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