Update: I changed the way they work. I am now happy with the way they look.
I used to have a feature on Scripting News that I called paragraph-level permalinks, but other people called them WinerLinks, because I was apparently the first to have them. Whatever you call them, they're nice to have. And I heard from a few people that they missed them, so I put the feature on my to-do list.
Notice that this post has them. Over in the right margin, you should see little purple hashes. If you click on one, it'll open the page scrolled to that paragraph.
They're useful if you want to comment elsewhere on a specific part of a post. Since I want to encourage people to do that, I like the idea of these links. What I don't like is how distracting they are. I like the feature, but I'd like to have it be less visible.
For that I ask you, Ms or Mr Designer, to give it a try. Mock up a page with these links and try to come up with something that looks better.
PS: To see how distracting they can be, look at a longer post as an example.
Update #2: I tweaked the implementation to use the first characters of the first five words in the paragraph to form the permalink. This allows you to reorder the paragraphs without breaking links. However, if you change any of the first five words, the links break too. Trade-offs, always. This idea was stolen from the NYT implementation of paragraph-level permalinks.
Today I want to write about my blog and formats it uses to connect with others, and how that might work with Facebook and Google -- at the same time.
I'm "still" posting on my blog, and have no plans to stop. In fact, I hope to help other people get back into their own blogs. I think we can reboot a little, maybe not in a huge way, but blogging as an activity could use a little love, a little sprucing up, some spring cleaning. There are a lot of cobwebs in the blogosphere. People have left junk around that isn't getting used anymore. And we could use some fresh ideas about how to connect stuff up.
But while all that rebooting is happening, maybe Facebook et al could help facilitate the reboot? After all, they employ programmers and researchers who need to share knowledge with each other, and need places to record their ideas where they can find them again, and where others working in the same field can find them.
One way they could help is by adopting some of the standards of the blogosphere, so their content can integrate with ours. For example, if I paste the URL of an RSS feed or an OPML file into a Facebook post, they could do something nice with it. Today they don't, at all. I discovered this yesterday by accident when I pasted a link to an RSS feed into a Facebook post. I just tried an experiment and pasted a link to an OPML file, the canonical test outline -- states.opml, into Facebook. Again, nothing happened. OPML with its ability to structure information for presentation, would be a perfect complement to Facebook. Both are outgrowths of graph theory, a subject that I studied as a college student many years ago (it was so funny to see Facebook use the terminology of my once-obscure avocation).
If Facebook supported OPML and RSS, we could probably find some interesting ways to integrate our tools with their environment. That's how we're going to fix this silo problem, by knocking down some of the walls. If they'll let our content in, without having it hosted on their servers, it can have a dual life. "Out here" it can be indexed by Google and shared among other interested people, over long periods of time. And inside Facebook, we can share our thoughts with our friends and family, so they can keep up with what we're doing.
During the last few months, I would occasionally share my development progress with my Facebook friends. They were some of my most popular posts. Possibly because what I do is so much in vogue these days, there's so much curiosity about how software developers work. I love this. I've always had to wave my hands when people ask what I do, while their eyes glaze over. But these days it's quite different.
I want to keep using Facebook, but my professional work must be done on the web, or it doesn't work. Perhaps we can make that a win-win?