Why are Backlinks important to me?

Mar 24, 2022 (Mar 24, 2022) Loading...

Polished once

As I build this site from new ideas and old content, I realise that I don't really know how you might use it.

I expect that the themes of this site will become pretty clear. However, lots of that content has underlying links, and I want to be able to draw links between (for instance) the rules-which-allow-freedom in exploration, improvisation, and peer conferences.

When I recognise a congruence, I can link two ideas togther. Hyperlinks go one way. Backlinks go back again, without effort from me.

So if I want to build an interlined cloud of ideas from whcih to form interactions and more, I need links as much as content – and backlinks are an integral element to that network which is not integral to HTML.

I make notes in Roam. When I make a note, I can easily insert a link to another note.

When I do that, Roam makes an adjustment to that other note – it adds a link to the not I'm working on. (I know this isn't actually an action, but it works OK as a metaphor for here).

So that means, when I open an old note, I'll often be delighted by its explicit links to other, newer things. I've not had to work for those links. These are backlinks – they allow you to start at the source, and to see what refers back to it. They're currently (2021-2) on-trend: you'll find them in Roam, Notion and more. I've just built a thing to allow backlinks for this site.

When you read about Digital Gardening, contrasting "a garden" with "a stream" (the stream being the firehose of twitter / facebook / whatever ) , you're typically reading about people building a network of linked information.

But Ghost? Ghost's a platform for serving content. Turns out that it's pretty stream-focussed: search is a plugin, and discovery is around reverse-date-sorted lists of posts in tag groups. Linking from page to page isn't facilitated, and building networks of information isn't easy at all.

Handily, though, Ghost is built to open itself, rather than to close*. So I can chuck in JavaScript, and get that JavaScript to grab stuff from the content database, then update the page.

* = within limts – I still can't easily upload code and assets independently of a theme.  

Background: I've found value in two-way references since I first got my hands on Hypercard, in 1987. I've think I've been able to have automatically-generated lists of inbound links since getting a license for Tinderbox in, I dunno, 2002? For a while, google had a link: operator, whicih allowed me to ask "what pages link here"? Roam is slicker, quicker, and easier to get used to than any of its predecessors.

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