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I've just added a new method of navigation to urticator.net. Before, there was the tree, or table of contents; the links and backlinks, or index, and also some search pages of various kinds. Now there are also a few threads.

When I was writing about navigation, before, I said that the pages in this site were arranged not in a linear sequence but rather in a hierarchy, or tree. Well, that's true, but it turns out it would sometimes be nice if the pages were also arranged in a linear sequence. That's what the threads are for.

So, now, when some pages ought to be arranged in a linear sequence, I'll make them into a thread. The pages remain in place within the tree, but at the bottom of each page there's a link to the next, so that it's no longer necessary to use the tree to navigate. See, for example, Hierarchical Language.

The only question that remains, then, is when pages ought to be arranged in a linear sequence. To answer it, I'll need to say a few words about how the pages develop that is, about content dynamics.

My original thought was that urticator.net would be like a file system. Some pages, the essays, would be the files, while others, the categories, would be the folders; and although the essays might refer to one another, each would make sense by itself. The category Science is a good example of that kind of structure.

Sometimes, though, you really want to attach explanatory text to a folder. That's why people create readme files, or, on a web server, index.html files; that's why Microsoft came up with the annoying idea of having every folder also be a web page; and that's why the design of urticator.net doesn't distinguish between essays and categories. The page Memes for Good Driving. is a good example of a category with attached text.

Other times, you really want to file a new essay underneath an existing one. The design of urticator.net supports that, too; the page Don't Fight Your Mind is a good example of an essay used as a category.

There's a third way that a page can become both an essay and a category. If I'm writing an essay, and it turns out to be longer than I expected, I like to break it up into subessays, with the top page as both category and introductory essay. Sometimes, as in What's the Point?, the subessays will turn out to be interchangeable bullet points; other times, as in On Authority, they'll still need to be read in a particular order.

In my opinion, it's only in the very last case that the pages ought to be arranged in a linear sequence. I prefer not to impose order where none is required.


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