surftrail  5/19/05 - Website by Anders Fagerjord

surftrail is Anders Fagerjord's personal blog, and it made a bit of a splash among weblogs in August of 2003 when Anders made each blog entry its own webpage rather than taking the standard approach of collecting many entries onto a single web page.

Most blogs allow the reader to read an entry only in the context (a page) of other entries, whether the context is a chronological archive, a category or subject grouping, or a search result.

When each entry (or thought/topic in an entry) has its own page, several things can happen:

  • style is more flexible - each entry can more easily have its own visual tone through framing and typography
  • more hypertext structures become possible - forks and cycles among your entries become more apparent
  • overlapping structures don't collide - so the chronological nature of a blog can more easily coexist with categories, idea hubs, and non-categorical trails
  • if you buy into the "golden age of hypertext" rhetoric, you get to write 'more like the hypertext novelists'. and if you don't buy into the nostalgia, you still get to take advantage of the features which made the novelists choose the medium in the first place.

This is different enough that folks have started to call such blogs Fagerjordian.

Finally, a page per topic

These things appeal to me, and were part of my thinking when I started textuality.org. I hadn't really finished the implementation, though. Each post got its own page as well as appearing on various indices, but each of the topics within a post didn't have their own pages. That made linking to a topic within a post difficult-- first because the reader would be constantly jumping between otherwise-unrelated posts and trying to find what I'd linked to on the page, and secondly because Tinderbox had a hard time exporting that feature because it couldn't tell whether the endpoint of a link was a page (blah.html) or an anchor (blah.html#ablah)

So last night I finished the implementation and gave topics (Anders calls them sidebars) a template that not only makes them readable but which makes explicit where the reader has ended up. There are links to neighboring topic-pages so that the reader can continue on at the topic level, and there's a link to the post (parent) that originally created the topic. Oh! And there's a perrmalink to the topic as it appears in the post, which is where I'd rather a linker send a new reader. It means that every single character in the posts appears twice in the html --once on the topic-page and once in the entry-page-- but 'disk is cheap', and that's a small price to pay for all this freedom...

I didn't do it quite the way that Anders did. I considered it, but it's a bit limiting. Besides being a blog, t.org is intended to become a directory of readings of 'nouns' in the field of hypertext-- articles, hypertexts, people, events, etc. I don't want to limit myself to having post = noun; I want a post to potentially contain 'nouns' (some already do), or to not be a noun at all.