It's even worse than it appears.
Thursday May 13, 2021; 8:47 AM EDT
  • Yesterday I explained what the [[square brackets]] are doing in the various outlining products that support them. But I got it wrong. They are simpler than I thought, and represent a feature we had in our web CMSes going back to Clay Basket in 1995. They're doing the same thing they do in Wikis.#
  • Suppose you've written something in an outline entitled Bill Gates vs The Internet. Then a year later you could link to the story with [[Bill Gates vs The Internet]]. #
  • It's useful if you give titles to what you write, but this is an old discussion not just in blogland but elsewhere apparently. To programmers it is convenient if every piece has a title. But the truth is most items in web and personal writing don't have titles, in this sense: there isn't an obvious title for them, if you had to come up with one it would be convoluted, and probably collide with some other convoluted title, depending on how long you had been writing. #
  • Most of the things I write don't get titles, so this feature, with this definition, would be fairly useless to me. I use permalinks in their place, therefore I've made it really easy to generate an anchor tag in my writing. #
  • When I started blogging in 1994, all my pieces had titles, but over time, I realized my daily writing comes in long and short bits, and even many of the longish ones don't get titles. I'm not writing for a magazine or newspaper. I'm writing a blog. My thoughts. #
  • I see how they get around this in Roam by starting a new outline every day, and giving it a title, which is the date. I could do that in my blogging outline, and even in my development status outline. But I have to say I've never wished for such a feature. Maybe now that I know they use them so much in other products I'll get more ideas. #
  • In the meantime, I automatically put a created attribute on every node, which is a string representation of the date-time, for example: Thu, 13 May 2021 16:41:07 GMT. From that I generate a permalink for the node, which is displayed next to it in the web rendering by a purple poundsign. If you're reading this piece on the web, you'd see a purple poundsign next to each paragraph. #
  • Lots more to say. In Roam et al, they use links as private connectors. When I refer to a piece called My Favorite Soup that refers to my piece with that title, not yours. But in a wiki, which is a group writing tool, there's only one piece with that name. #
  • Our outlines have attributes, and conventions for what the attribute names mean. For example, if a node has type "include" and a "url" attribute, that's an include node. The url points to an OPML file. When you expand the node in an outline, we read the file, parse it, and insert its contents under the include node. All that happens instantaneously for not-too-large included outlines. Some people call these transclusions, we call them includes. It's the outline equivalent of an HTML link. In Drummer it will be possible to have these link to specific nodes in outlines. Bookmarks can already do this, in the Drummer in development.#
  • We also have glossaries. And they are explained in lots of places.#
  • Here may be the biggest difference between my outline world and the nascent ones. I've tried out lots of approaches to lots of different things in the over 40 years I've been working on outliners. I'm happy to share what I've learned, and I think all of it is applicable to the connected world we live in. But there are also advantages to being a newcomer to this stuff, you start with a clean slate. You might think of something that takes another 40 years to develop, where my horizon doesn't extend nearly that far. #
  • There are also big differences in the way our outliners work. I could explain that in a podcast, but don't have the time to write it up now. The takeaway is that without open modular connections between the components via APIs, this new burst of outlineism will end up with a sad story of silos and stagnation, not a wonderful explosion like the earlier open platforms. One silo vs a thriving ecosystem -- either approach could win. It's happened both ways in the past. We have to be careful to learn from past mistakes in evolving open platforms. #
  • For that, I wrote Rules for standards-makers. #

© copyright 1994-2021 Dave Winer.

Last update: Thursday May 13, 2021; 4:30 PM EDT.

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