Meta: Outlink Design

I had completely forgotten my idea of posting a meta every now and then. For those unfamiliar with this idea: Simply put, metas are posts about this blog. (For a more elaborate description of the ‘meta’ concept, read this book.)

I was browsing through the WordPress settings, when I came across a feature called Proofreading. Basically, it scans your posts as you type them, and detects unusual sentence construction, repetition/clichés and highlights them. But another feature, which I am more interested about, supplies “Additional Post Content”: It identifies keywords or phrases in the post, hunts the internet for related links, and gives the writer the option of inserting any or all of them as links into the post.

Quite a few popular blogs that I have seen, are infested with these kind of links.. to the point of irritation at times, I think. I remember a time when I had fallen into the habit of randomly selecting and deselecting text with the mouse while reading anything, and I would invariably click on some or the other hyperlink in the process.

But let us analyze the function of these ‘outlinks’ from a Design perspective. For that, we need to first create a fictitious personality for the average reader, or what my last IDC course called a Persona. Now, this may not be the most accurate statement, but it is fair to say that the typical person who tends to read blogs (and several of them, probably), is fundamentally a reader. Further, people often do chain reading.. one article or post leading to another and so on. Also, the readers that land up on a particular post, via such chaining, may have very diverse origins and interests; so it becomes a must for any technical terms or names in the post to be properly defined or documented, in a way.

Looking from that Persona’s perspective, outlinks become very essential: A blog post that points to other sources of reading, is like a chain propagator, and is surely more welcome than one which acts like a chain terminator. And pointing to the definition/documentation for non-standard terms and names is a neat trick.

All this, in support of adding links. Any striking disadvantage of the same? Not that I know of, except that the visual flow and readability of the content is marginally reduced.

In short, you’ll find more outlinks in my recent posts, now that I have activated the Proofreading feature.

(PS: This is the first post that goes into all the categories. Time to add a new category next time…)

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Meta: Meta

This article is a ‘meta’. For those who don’t know what meta means:
In general, whenever you encounter this prefix, you are going to also encounter awesomeness. Metapuzzles are puzzles about puzzles. Metaphysics is a study about physics, i.e. as a science in general(i.e. philosophical stuff). The HTML meta tag contains information about the page. You see, ‘meta’ stands for about. So, this post is about this blog, and although it is part of the blog content, it is still not the content in the sense of content, if you know what I mean.. it is just extra information about the blog.

In that sense, my first two or so posts, which described the reasons for naming this blog, and my posting system etc were also all meta articles. The reason I am posting this is that I realised right now that I’ll often be posting such stuff that talk about this blog, and I should make a clear distinction between them and the rest.

So, as convention, all my metas will be titled “Meta:” followed by a title pertaining to what aspect of the blog that meta corresponds to. You’ll notice that even this meta follows the same convention: the title is “Meta: Meta” since this article is a meta and it talks about a meta. So truly, it is a meta meta.

For more on metas and their awesomeness, read Godel Escher Bach, an eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter.

Updated!

Haha.. I don’t know if this post will go up or not.. depends on whether there is a bug left in my last update to the
program. I decided that I needed a decent text-editor, if I were to really continue blogging. So, I edited my program
to fire up the simply amazing ‘nano’.. now, I can blog faster, better! Also, now, I use tilda to toggle
and show/hide my program window, which means that I can basically work, hit tilda and write something, hit tilda and
get back to work, hit tilda and write some more.. I can alternate between work and blogging much better!

Really, people.. you must use this system to believe how amazing it is.. work.. tilda.. type-type..tilda..work..tilda…type-type.. This blog is literally a Web Log.

Why am I spending so much time building such an elaborate system? After all, how much time does it take to open a
browser, go to wordpress, login, click the new-post button and start typing?
Ans: Enough for me to complete forget all about what I wanted to initially write.
Besides that, this system has an immense advantage: since I can post so easily, it makes sure that I post often enough,
which in turn, guarantees that the blog will always have new and interesting content; not like
other blogs which the reader may have encountered before, that don’t have anything new for weeks.
So, in effect, I shall have ‘established’ my reader base by “aggressive expansion”!

About this blog

Some simple questions need to be answered first:
Why am I blogging?
Ans: Simply because I loved the way Mark Zuckerberg(pardon spelling errors) used to blog about everything he thought all the time.. he’d pen it down(figuratively). I’d always wanted a system like that; and now I’ve finally built it! All I need to do is tilda (i.e. hit the tilda button), and start typing. When I’m done, hit tilda again, and the article is published!

Then why wait for so long?
Technical matters.. I had completed programming this about a month ago, actually, but there were some random issues that I needed to fix; for eg, I need to do a messy curl job to actually reach the XMLRPC script (which, as you might have guessed, is hosted outside campus), and special characters were causing some trouble. Not now. I can type ANY character I want, and it goes up nicely 🙂

Then, why this name?
Several reasons.. One, that it is part of a song by Pink Floyd, and the song has a nice abstract touch to it, which I liked. And for another, I firmly believe that no matter what man says, he still has no idea why a magnet works. I think a magnet is a perfect example of the pretense that science has about understanding stuff. You may tell me all about Maxwell’s equations and elaborate atomic models, but I’ll still ask you, “OK, still, why does it have to attract the iron things?” and you’ll know you’ve been defeated. So.. magnets.. in the face of technology miracles around us.. are still magnets.

Last thoughts:
Sadly, as I had hastily put this program in place, it is NOT a text editor (heck, it’s not even close). Which means that typing errors should be pardoned. For sadistic purposes, this is also a one-way editor: once you’ve typed and pressed enter to go to the next line, there’s no returning! After all, if this is to be my true log, it should be the unbiased first impression!
That’s it, I think