Ever since I passed about 20 posts, I’ve been wishing for a contents listing for the blog. I think one of the weakest parts of blogging software is poor navigability. The dominant mode of access for most blogs is the (reverse) chronology. Which is fine, because that matches the dominant design metaphor. But it’s implemented badly in most blogging tools – by default you can go backwards one page full of posts at a time, with no ability to get a preview of what’s further back. Some people choose to add shortcuts of various kinds to their blogs: a calendar (actually a month-based index), a list of popular/favourite/recent posts, a list of recent comments, a tag cloud, etc. And of course, you can always search for keywords. These all help to address the navigability problem a little, but none of them really provide the missing synoptic view of past contents.
I think the net result is that blogs have an enforced ephemeral nature – once a post has scrolled off the bottom of the first page, it will probably never be seen by the casual visitor to the site – the only likely paths to it are hardlinks from other blog posts, or google hits.
Which is why I’ve always wanted a contents listing. A page with the titles (&links) to all the past blog posts, arranged in some convenient order. So that casual visitors to the blog can see what they’ve missed. And get a sense of what the blog is all about – a bit like wondering up and down the shelves in a library, except that nobody does that anymore.
Today, I found a tool that does most of what I want. It creates an automated sitemap, for human consumption (as opposed to the machine oriented sitemaps that Google feeds on). It makes use of the category labels, and I think it might take some time for me to figure out how to use the category headings for best effect. But I like it so far. See for yourself…