Blogrolling

· Weblog Concepts

Bastard stepchild of the buddy list and the old link-exchange, with intimations of what I’m reading and who I think you should be reading, blogrolls are usually lists of recommended or favorite blogs, sometime in multiple categories, usually listed in the navigation panel of a blog, when it has one.
Blogrolling.com offers a free Javascript-based blogroll service (the only “price” is a linkback to blogrolling.com) that includes a “BlogrollThis!” bookmarklet and instructions on how to make a “Blogroll Me!” link. A commenter on an earlier post here pointed out that the links thus inserted into your page are not fully indexable (indexible? indecible?), so caveat emptor.
There are other third-party blogroll services, and Radio can be easily extended to incorporate an outliner-based blogroll. Until I’ve done more research, I can’t yet recommend one particular method over another, except that it makes little sense to handcode a blogroll.
Deciding how to manage a blogroll for this site, my instincts were as usual at war between perfectionism (and standards-based, measure-once-cut-twice, forward-thinking design) and expediency (the writer’s impatience to get the words out there without getting bogged down in process, production, and presentation), so I set up a blogroll with blogrolling.com, to get the hang of the process. The web interface is well designed and easy to use. So far so good. Come to think of it, though, it would be nice to be able to sort the blogroll list on the Edit page. I’ll have to try the recommended Radio type of blogroll next to compare. Already I want to sort my current blogroll into a few categories.
As for the word blogroll, I always figured it was related to the literary practice of “logrolling,” or writing blurbs for each other’s books. Spy magazine in the ’80s (and ’90s? I stopped reading it) used to publish a little table called something like “Logrolling in our time,” and list pairs of authors’ blurbs for each other side by side.
I can’t find any evidence for my quaint folk etymology, though, so I imagine the word may have a more pedestrian origin (a roll, or list, of blogs; as in “calling the roll”). As always in this climate, punning abounds. One of Doc Searls’s blogrolls is called “blogrolodex.”
At one point I thought that blogrolls were pretentious and showy. Applications such as Blogdex and Daypop demonstrated how wrong I was to think this. This interweaving of preferences and endorsements defines a great deal of the context of the web, striving asymptotically for meaning.