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Rearranging/Inserting posts on a Tumblr blog

A blogging note by Spork Major:

Spork just discovered this morning that new features on tumblr.com make it possible (but not very easy!) to change the order of posts on a tumbleblog and/or insert new posts between two older posts. This is Good News because Spork has often been very frustrated when she has posted things in the wrong order on the Sporkworld Microblog or when she really needs to insert a new post between two older posts.

The way to move a post is to change the date and time attached to it. To do this, go to the Tumblr “Dashboard” (after logging in to tumblr) and edit the post you want to move. Then click on the “Advanced Options” button on the upper right. This will reveal a few new fields, including “date.” The date field will accept a date and a time in various formats. If you set dates on your posts, the posts will appear in the order given by the dates, with the newest posts on the top of the page as usual.

You can still make new posts without entering a date (even though the “advanced” fields, including the date field will probably be displayed each time you make a new post after clicking “Advanced Options” for the first time) because the default date and time is always the current moment.

This trick makes it possible to fix mistakes and insert really necessary information into a blog, but Spork thinks it should be used quite sparingly. The blogging medium works by accumulating information, with new information frequently superseding the old information, but not obliterating it. For example, many of the most famous blogs have articles that start as rumors, then develop into press releases, then develop into detailed stories as more and more information becomes available. The proper way to deal with this in a blog is to keep adding new posts correcting and amplifying the story, but NOT to correct the original stories or delete incomplete or incorrect older stories.

This accumulation of corrections and added information is at the core of why blogs really are a new medium of commmunication, even though they are technically built out of the same text, images, sounds, and video as are non-blog web pages or in the case of blogs which do not use sound or moving images, ordinary books and magazines. Blogging produces a sequence of stories which allow readers to learn not only the facts about a story, but also the “metafacts,” i.e. the history of how the facts were revealed to the public. In some domains (e.g. political scandals, hot technology news, celebrity gossip) the metafacts are more important that the facts themselves, and blogs are the first medium to make the metafacts explicit.

(Just imagine what we would know now, had Woodward & Bernstein had been liveblogging and twittering in real time as they pursued their Watergate investigation…)