Published on:

A method to describe and quantify forward and backward references on this blog

A dream I have is that every back reference on this blog (“See my post of Dec. 31, 2008: something.)” is a back reference)) were hyperlinked to the previous post and every post shows at the bottom the posts later on that cite it – forward references. This soup of ideas would be immediately navigable.

More than ease of movement, such linkages would allow me to ferret out genealogies of posts – what posts relate to each other and how closely. To get a feel for this mapping, I did a small one. I took the final three posts in my Productivity category of my first 3,000 posts. Two posts were on Feb. 7, 2008 and one was on Feb. 4. One post had four back references, which together had one back reference, as well as one forward reference. A second post had six back references, which had three of their own, and one forward reference. The third post (Feb. 4) had five back references, which in turn referred back to a total of four posts, and it had two forward references. (I noted only two instances where a second generation post referred to a first generation post.)

Being a quant jock, I assigned five points to each first generation back reference or forward reference, and three points to each second generation reference (where a first generation reference post cites another post). On that basis, the first productivity post scored 28 (4*5 for 1st generation back references, plus 1*3 for second generation, plus 1*5 for first forward reference). The second productivity post scored 44 and the third scored 27. Now I have a handle on how to describe my “postal community” and to compare one post to another on number and relatedness of predecessors and successors.