Arie Altena

Do Not Write More than 12 Lines

Blog-entry, after starting to work with WordPress

How software softly ‘tells’ you how to write. It doesn’t impose, oh no, it just suggests… why wouldn’t you write like this, that’ll be best… don’t you think?

I do not like those suggestions.

That’s why I already have a love-hate relationship with WordPress.

‘Write Post’ suggests, softly, that I write short posts. Like of about 12 lines. The major part of the screen of my 12”-powerbook is taken by the rest of the interface (which is clear enough, no reason for severe criticism). The box for writing is 12 lines long. Of course I can write as much as I want. Of course I can change whatever I’d like to change. But that’s not the point. How many people actually change the default? And besides that: one needs room for the other elements of the interface as well.

The point is how the software (and how it is presented) programs a certain kind of writing. Short posts. Categorized. And writing a short post means that you’re trying to be concise and clear. The act of categorizing installs database-thinking. Consciously or unconsciously, maybe even secretly you are writing for an interlinked and searchable database.

Of course, that is what you are doing anyway. At least, seen from the perspective of a machine. In case you are using bloggingsoftware like WordPress, you are filling a MySQL-database with categorized data. But also if you’re doing everything by hand, old-skool, you are filling the database of the search engines.

But there is a difference (is there?) When writing old-skool in BBedit, using simple HTML, you are constructing a sequence. You are in a flux of time, writing is keeping track of time, it just goes on and on, one post comes after the other.

When using WordPress, or a similar package, your posts may be, by default, presented in a chronological way, yet when writing and categorizing the post, there is much more of a database-feeling. You store your thoughts and notes away, putting them in boxes. Feels more like filing (note: with one ‘l’).

This text was published in Ubiscribe, Recent Changes, 2006, and was taken from my blog:

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Arie Altena