Backwards Blogs Broken?

Seth Godin asks the question: Are blogs backward?

Here are his main points:

a. a lot more blogs should be posted in chronological order, like books. If you’re trying to chronicle something, it makes a lot of sense to start at the beginning, as long as you provide regular readers an easy way to just read the current stuff (That’s what RSS is for, right?). No, this isn’t right for gizmodo. But it makes a lot of sense for someone, say, chronicling her experience in a 12 step program.

b. we need Movable Type or someone to create a simple way to create “greatest hits” pages. Not an archive, but a simple way for a new reader to read the ten posts we want them to start with, in the order we want them read, before they dive in.

The greatest hits page is a good idea, but I think his first thought needs refinement. I don’t think that the main page of a blog should be chronological. New visitors want to see the freshest content first. However, I do think that ARCHIVES should be chronological. Many times I have gone to a blog and reverse read all the posts. It makes much more sense, at least to me, to have the older posts shown in order of posting with the least recent on top.

Joi Ito, who has forgotten more about blogs than I know, thinks that the current format of blogs is too entrenched to be changed. But I must point out that books were printed for years without numbered pages, and everyone thought they were just fine. Suddenly someone prints tiny numbers on the pages to make reference much easier, and books are changed forever.

6 responses to “Backwards Blogs Broken?”

  1. Interesting points. Check out the top right of this blog:
    I prefer to read current first and if I decide I like the content then I can go back. Unfortunately, some of the blogs I’ve discovered in the past days/weeks/months have been around for years. At three posts a day a daunting task indeed, which is why I like the greatest hits idea.

  2. I think that the greatest hits idea is a great one, but I don’t think it is enough.
    I just think that people assume that since a blog is best read in reverse chronological order, then the entire site has to be like that. I don’t think so.

  3. Check out this “Blogware as Soup Nazi” post from a few months ago:
    That weblog, written by Kevin Sheridan (a self-avowed snob), is an interesting discourse on what blogging actually is versus what the digerati say it is.
    Yes, a greatest hits is a step in the right direction. Another example is Dave Luna’s moblog ( ). The left sidebar contains the top 5 entries for the week, the top 5 overall, and the bottom 5. But the best part is the 5 random entries, which constantly change and help new readers get a feel for the place.
    But I think Scott is right. I’d love to see blogging software evolve and provide more flexibility for those who prefer to focus and content rather than mess around with templates.

  4. Blogging software is still very much at an early stage. I am sure there will be much more flexibility down the pike. I am just afraid that people will get stuck into thinking that a blog is a blog is a blog, and it really isn’t.
    There are many ways that blogs can be improved. Perhaps I will start writing a series of posts about how I think things can improve, for Typepad in particular but the things I will talk about will be applicable to other blogging software.

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