Web-log Continuums

by Luke Wroblewski September 12, 2004

There’s a number of ways that people utilize Web-logs: as personal journals, as link/news collections, or as concept explorations (to name a few). Functioning Form mostly falls into the later category as it’s primarily a “proving ground and repository for ideas” on the subject of interface design. As such, the standard Web-log format (chronological listings of entries) proves to be quite limiting. How can the gradual refinement of an idea be presented to readers?

Many bloggers utilize categories to group related ideas. This works well when the relationship between entries is topical. However, related (and even sequential) ideas can easily bridge multiple categories. Additionally, maintenance of a category list requires substantial forward thinking -categories quickly become “stretched” and inadequate. The rigidity of categories contradicts the “organic” style of most blogs where entries are subject to the whims of individuals.

After debating a number of visualization solutions to this problem, I decided to take a first step and introduce continuum links on Functioning Form entry pages. These links automatically appear at the end of entries that are later referenced on Functioning Form (see image below). This lays out a contextually relevant path for readers who are interested in how a particular idea has continued to evolve on this blog.

To take this concept further, we could look to the convergence of blogging and the semantic web:

“Navigation Current navigation within blogs is largely chronological, and hence not well suited for non time-based data. We want to enable users to browse their own blog (and others') for such data in an intuitive manner. In addition, semantic links will allow navigation to other items 'related to', 'agreeing with' or 'disagreeing with'" this one. These links are an alternative to explicit citation-type links and thus provide a community based network based around ideas and discussions.”