Open Thread
Ashcroft Saves US from Insectoid Menace!

I'm Tired of Writing on a Roll of Paper Towels

In her Wiscon coverage of Monday at the con, Cheryl Morgan remarks:

The only programming I went to claimed to be a session on blogging technology, but if you had looked in on us you would have assumed that Kathryn Cramer was reading Tarot cards for Bill Humphries.

I took full advantage of Wiscon's spontaneous program item track, signing up two of them myself, the first on blogging and politics, followed on Monday by one on technology and political blogging. In the scene Cheryl describes, I had arranged index cards and torn bits of index cards too represent individual pages in a blog and pages linked to, and the small bits representing subsidiary arguments I would like to include as separate nodes within an individual blog posting.

Most of those reading this probably don't know of my hypertextual past. In the fall of 1993, when I was a grad student in German and Comparative literature at Columbia (following a masters in American Studies and a B.A. in mathematics, also at Columbia) I skipped out for a week and went to Hypertext '93 in Seattle which hit me like a religious conversion. At the time I was writing a dark fantasy hypertext, In Small & Large Pieces, later published by Eastgate Systems. At the end of the semester, I dropped out of grad school and went to work for Eastgate. As far as I know S&L has the distinction of being the most heavily linked of Eastgate's hypertext fictions (by which I mean it has the highest link-to-node ratio). After about a year, a bad adult case of disease Fifth's Disease and a fire in the house I'd been living in Newton, MA knocked the wind out of my sails. After flailing around a bit, I took my computer skills and used them to get a real job (which I hated). But such is my evangelical hypertext past.

So here I am, a little over a year into blogging, having written on the electronic equivalent of a long roll of paper towels for far too long and I want the technological capabilities I enjoyed a decade ago: I want to regain a mode of expression in which I have some considerable technical skill. I feel I've been really up against the limits of the roll of paper towels in such entries as Iraq: The Secret Policeman's Other Ball. The possibility of subordinate nodes within a post would have made that entry ever so much easier and perhaps much better.

There are two components to the problem I face. The composition end. How do I compose and post a multi-node blog entry as easily as the single-node kind. And, secondly, how do I get people to read it the way I think it should be read. The answer to this first question seems to me to be most easily addressed by a hybrid approach, using both MT and Tinderbox, Eastgate's web heir to the legacy of Storyspace, the tool I used to write S&L. The reading problem is harder, but I have some ideas.

There are also a number of other directions Bill Humphries suggested in our discussions which I need to look into now that I'm home again.

Are there any blogs out there which use multi-node blog entries or extensive in-blog hyertextuality? I'm very curious.