Articles and indexes

Recently I have started to think about web pages I make in two main categories: articles and indexes.

"Article" isn't really the best word for it, because it also includes a video or a song. An "article" exists for itself. It's goal is to be meaningful in itself. It's the kind of thing I could say "Hey, I made this" and link to it, and if someone follows a link and reads, listens, watches, etc. then the goal is that it will be helpful to them.

An "index" exists to collect interesting things. It is a list of links. It doesn't have any direct meaning, but it points to articles. Separating articles and indexes helped me focus on making something meaningful and just publishing it. I didn't have to worry about how people would find it or how it would show up on my website. The index would worry about that. The article need not worry about it. That may sound silly, but many of the reasons for not writing are silly.

Once I had this idea of an index in my head, I began to see why some web pages (both my own and others) frustrated. They were trying to be both an article and an index. They were trying to present an idea, but really presenting an incomplete idea and linking out to 10 other places to find more. I didn't know whether to read the article or read the other articles it was recommending.

Perhaps that's the reason separating articles and indexes appeals to me. They are straightforward about what they have for you. An article has something meaningful enough to engage with in and of itself. An index has nothing in itself, but it has organized a few articles around some theme and saved them for you.

The way I use articles and indexes on this site is laughably simple. Articles are just published normally, all in the /words folder. If I want to create an index around a certain theme, I find all the articles that have that theme and add a tag to them. If I want to share one article, each has it's own URL. If I want to share that them, I link to that tag, which will show a list of those articles. 

I know this all sounds rather basic, but it is helping me, as someone who does not write regularly, be able to write larger things slowly, in little manageable piece. For example, I need write only one insight that I have had about a certain book at a time. But once I tag them all with that book, I can also share that tag with someone and say, "Here are all my insights that I gathered from this book."