Rewriting titles to optimize information flow

Recently I spent about an hour reviewing and upgrading the titles of my postings here. Many of the items predated the titling feature, which was added on March 11. I know this because that's when I wrote "Titled items added to Radio!" Shortcut hyperlinking of phrases like that makes old content come alive, and is one way I was repaid for my trouble. Another was an immediate doubling of my storyList page which has, for me, replaced the calendar as a compact chronology of items.

Along the way, I took the opportunity to rewrite some of the titles. I forget the original title of "Ways of paying attention" -- and that was exactly the problem. The new title better captures the ideas in that item, giving me speedier access to it. Because it's more memorable, and thanks to Radio's shortcuts, I can also give others speedier access to those ideas.

I'm in the middle of a book that's helping me figure out why these things matter. Sam's Neurotransmitters essay mentions another essay by Steve Burbeck which in turn refers to Werner Loewenstein's The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell Communication, and the Foundations of Life. This remarkable synthesis of information theory, thermodynamics, and molecular and cell biology reminds me that the flow of information is as fundamental as the flow of energy, and that both flows prefer paths of least resistance. When I say Heads, decks, and leads I am not just talking about transplanting a journalistic tradition to blogspace. I'm talking about a deep principle of communication, one that will help us (for a while) push this huge boulder we're wrestling up the hill of entropy.

Philosophy aside, you can easily upgrade your titles by walking through the weblogData.posts table in your Radio outliner. (Do make a backup first.) If you expand an item and find it titleless, just hit enter, add an outline entry named "title," and write your title in the value slot. Through the miracle of database-backed content management, the new or rewritten titles will now participate in title views (like Radio's recentTitledBlogPosts macro), and will also work as shortcuts. Note that you have to republish the affected pages to make this happen.

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