From here to there and back again

Friday, 9 Sep 2005

In an O’Reilly weblog entry, François Joseph de Kermadec mentions his RSS-only weblog. In the inaugural article in that weblog, musing on the fact that this means there are no comments and no archives, he writes:

Archives are, to me, even less of an issue. Indeed, most aggregators will keep them for their users – a blog entry weighs so little most of them are kept indefinitely. Also, as Jane Marple says, «The essence of life is going forward» (and I’m sure other people have said it as well). The essence of a blog is to go forward as well, provide its readers with current information. Archives are great for historical purposes and as an introspection medium so I’ll keep them somewhere but, for now, they won’t get used in an online interface.

Sorry, I can’t give you a link to the full article, because… uh, he has no archive. You’ll have to subscribe to his weblog to read the entry (and hopefully it will still be around at that time).

And thus, my point just made itself.

Weblogs are about conversation. No, not comments; I was not personally around for the golden age of weblogs, but I know that these (along with dedicated publishing software and newsfeeds) were not around at the time either. Weblogs are about inter-weblog conversation.

A weblog without permalinks and archives cannot participate in a dialogue. A weblog without permalinks and archives is just a longely stranger mumbling to himself in the breeze.

This issue was raised long ago by Russell Beattie when he pondered the concept.

But is this a fundamental problem? It seems that this is purely due to the disconnect between the browser and aggregator personalities of weblogs as currently understood. The newsfeed corresponds to the frontpage, with its purely transient nature. The archives, however, are browser-only. I have often wondered why this disparity exists; now I find myself also wondering what it would take to overcome it.

I have some ideas, but they are as yet too vague. This is a topic for another entry, after more thought.