Thursday, December 20, 2001

I had a thought concerning "Blogger" and the nature of weblogs. I draw an analogy.

Many law books (I'm told) are written on two levels, to decrease the complexity of the sentences on the "main" level (which are already often terribly complex). For example:

     9.1.1. Whenever any person* shall act** in such a way ...
         * "Person" here does not include a corporate person.
         ** A person who acts at the behest of another shall be held to have acted under his own volition.

The footnotes add important detail to the law or act or contract, while rendering the main text more readable and understandable. In most cases the footnotes are an essential part of the law or act or whatever. Although I don't know of this being done, there is no reason that the footnotes (which can themselves be quite long) can't have a further level of text below them, to increase readability and understanding. (It strikes me that case law could be considered to be this very sublevel.) These sublevels could be continued ad infinitum. (Regular readers of this page--I hope there turn out to be some--will notice that I make lots of parenthetical comments. This paragraph contains two. If "Blogger" made this fairly easy, I might abstract some of these parenthetical comments into footnotes to increase the flow of my main thought. Of course, perhaps I'm the one who should extend "Blogger" in this way. Actually, I don't know HTML; it may turn out that HTML already has this capability. Note to self: check.)

The analogy to "Blogger" and weblogs is this. Life in general contains any number of intellectual and semi-intellectual exercises. This can be a conversation that extends deeper than the weather and "How you been?" "Fine", or it can be one's reaction to a book, movie, whatever. This conversation or book, analogous to the primary level of text (ie, ยง9.1.1 above), are not likely to be represented in a Weblog such as this. (It is, of course, possible to link to many of these, and many Weblogs do.) The Weblog represents the second level of text, the footnotes. My parenthetical comments could be a third level, or might be considered tightly bound to their text and hence something like level 2½.

In any case, this is my insight of the day. "Weblogs are the footnotes to life." You can quote me on that.