Chronological Archives

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The original distinctive feature of the weblog was its chronological arrangement. By placing the most recent news at the top of the site's most prominent page, the weblog places its best foot forward. By emphasizing the promise of fresh updates to come, the weblog encourages repeat visits.

As the weblog grows, its main page grows longer and longer; sooner or later, it becomes cumbersome and some entries must be deleted or placed elswhere. The most common solution has been ChronologicalArchives, gathering a month or a week of material in a succession of archive pages.

ChronologicalArchives are not completely satisfactory because:

  • Archives offer no particular reason for people to read older entries. There may be interesting things in May 1999, but how is anyone to know? This places a greater burden on direct linking through PermaLinks

  • If posts originally appear in reverse chronological order, and they are archived chronologically, the the reader who is pursuing an interesting story will read it in a different sequences when it first appears or when reading it later. This makes planning and writing a weblog theme more difficult.

Alternatives to chronological archives include

  • Thematic archives or categories

  • Thematic overviews with links into chronological archives

  • Pruning archives, retaining only the most interesting notes

Client-side WeblogTools like Radio Userland and TinderBox can provide better tools for searching and organizing posts, and so tend to make writers more conscious of their place in the archives. A common report of those moving from server-side to client-side tools indicates that awareness of the archives changes their approach to writing.

Related: InformationArchitecture KayceeNicole

-- Last edited October 27, 2002

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