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blog.gkaindl.com » Categories ruined my blog

blog.gkaindl.com

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Categories ruined my blog

Yes. They really did. See, there’s a lot that made me not update my blog since July 25, for more than 2 months: Another vacation (this time longer - it was great!), lots and lots of work before that, traditional writer’s block and, well, those darned categories.

Fortunately, Wordpress 2.3 comes to the rescue at just the right time, introducing its shiny new “native tagging support”! As you can see, I’ve already eagerly updated my blog theme, ditching categories completely in favor of tags. Oh, and instead of a “Links” page (which, frankly, I never really used), there’s a tag cloud now.

I know it sounds weird to feel so harshly about categories while getting all excited about tags. After all, they’re basically the same thing. At least technically. Both are keywords you assign to your posts. Most explanations about their differences are completely superficial: There’s the “you usually have much fewer categories than tags” crowd, the “categories are abstract, tags are concrete” crowd or the “categories are long, tags are short” crowd. Here’s a good run-down of such observations.

There’s no technical difference. There’s a lot of conceptual differences, though. However, the one that personally strikes me as most important is this: Categories precede posts, tags come after posts.

When you categorize a post, you look at the categories you already have, those that define the main scope of your blog. Then you pick the one (or maybe few) that fit the post best. If none fit, you either create a new one or ditch the post. As such, categories are limiting. This can be good if you want to stay on your self-imposed topic; Bad, if you rather want to write with only a loose connection between your posts, which, incidentally, is what keeping a personal blog is all about.

Now tags, on the other hand, come after the post. You may reread what you have written, and then go “oh, that’s gonna be tagged with web, design, ajax and javascript”. You don’t come up with the tags first and tailor a post around them.

As such, grouping by categories is self-imposed, grouping by tags is organic: You don’t envision your tag cloud first and tailor your blog to fit it, but the tag cloud grows depending on what you write. And this, to my mind, is the awesome thing about them: Organization that is not imposed, but grows by itself, reflecting my writing interests. Now this is how I envision a personal blog. It’s how I envision my blog.

Consequently, no more categories for me. Really, it all started crumbling when I filed the first post in the “random” category. Just having had such a category in the first place is the perfect proof that categories just are not for me…

About

Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

I like to write about everything that matters to considerate technology enthusiasts, but humbly retain the right to go off-topic from time to time.

My posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Contact

You can reach me by email if you have something to say that's not related to a blog post or that you don't want to have publicly available as a comment to a post.

However, you'll have to prove that you are human! Even though I personally like robots very much, I'm less of fan of SPAM. It's just a simple riddle to solve, but a SPAM bot won't cut it!

To get my email address, take the word before the .com in my domain name first (Hint: The word you are looking for starts with a "g" and ends with an "l"). Next, simply attach @mac.com to this word.

Boom, there's my email address. Simple, isn't it?

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