The Subject of Relevance
The subject of relevance has been floating in my mind for the past few weeks, off and on. Why? I'm not too sure, other than to attribute the thoughts to the overall reasoning for wanting to wipe this slate clean in the first place. As everybody who blogs knows, the blog is based on a descending chronological structure. New posts come in, old posts go down and fall into the back of the blog's memory. Archives allow you to access the past, to do anything from compare the difference in writing styles to find that article on the CSS technique you loved so much.
I started blogging in September of 2004, a bit late to say that I've been doing this for a while. As I wrote and as I started to see the post counts racking up, things started to lose meaning and I'd only revisit my old posts if I happened to see a spam comment come in. When I finally took the chance to browse my own archives and read through my own posts, I began to see how irrelevant some of them became--;to varying degrees obviously. However, because nothing deemed these posts to be irrelevant other than the thoughts in my mind, people could see opinions I had made in say, early 2005, and deem them to be a part of my psyche. I could assume that most bloggers are like myself and fail to look back at old posts to either edit them or link them to more recent posts which are probably more relevant and more aligned with the author's current state of mind. Unfortunately, with how well blogs are indexed these days, places like Google and Technorati don't forget. So if you're like me and sometimes let your words run ahead of your wisdom, then there are certain posts that you don't want to delete but aren't exactly proud of.
I could be very well exposing a problem that only affects a certain amount of people. Some people haven't been blogging long enough or write about a subject matter that doesn't require the author to look back at the relevancy of their posts. But this could apply to different situations. For example, CSS techniques, they used to come and go like the phases of the moon, yet you'd seldom see an article about an obsolete CSS technique that was one, marked irrelevant, and two, referenced a better technique. One example could be working for one company, writing smack about their competitor and then finding ones-self working for said competitor. An example hits a little closer to home as I point to personal blogs. Blogs like this one that really serve as a cross-section of the author's life. Yet in my case, unless it was updating my most frequented article in the introduction of the ChaoticSoul theme, I never really double-checked my articles to see if what I was currently writing contradicted those older posts, or simply, if an older post just didn't apply anymore. Reason being is because it's a lot of work. The more you write on a daily basis, the harder it is to remember the one or two posts that become irrelevant as the months pass. But to that point, as the months pass and as life styles and situations change, then the amount of irrelevant posts can rise dramatically.
However, this all depends on your view on history and if it should be re-referenced or manipulated to reflect the now. My opinion doesn't lie with changing a post to make it relevant, it's more along the lines of providing some visual aid to warn the reader that the post they're viewing no longer aligns with the author's current state of mind (in the case of a personal blog).
Shaun Inman's ".compost heap" or simply "The Heap" was a great experiment at the least. For those of you who never got to see it, in his infinite knowledge (compared to mine), he found a way to change the color and contrast of posts depending on how old they were. If you were to navigate to the first post he ever made, you wouldn't be able to see it. The same visual technique could possibly apply to a post that is marked as irrelevant. Granted it's implementation on Avalonstar will look more like an error message, but who knows what may happen. To that effect, I recently added (since it was a quick change) a boolean field (true/false field) to the backend, which I can use to deem a post as irrelevant and then either explain why it is or simply provide a link to the more relevant post. That way you preserve the post's integrity to reflect the mood in which it was written, but also say to the reader that, "Look, here's a more up-to-date thought on what I think about this issue."
Granted this is definitely not something that everybody should be scrambling to do, but at the least, take a look at your old posts and keep a tally in your mind as to how many have become irrelevant.