Stack Order

By default WordPress displays posts in reverse chronological order – the first come last and the last come first. This system accords at the level of the user interface with a fundamental computational data structure, the stack. Like a stack of plates, the first one off is the last one that was put on. Of course, this is quite unlike an ordinary paper journal where the first page is filled with the first entry and subsequent pages contain subsequent entries. I know this default display mode can be easily modified. It is just a matter of changing the sort order of the database query, but I am more interested in how the default affects my conception of journal writing. I suppose I could think of my blog posts less as gradually developing entries in a journal than as letters to friend that are kept in a stack in the order that they are received. In the latter case, the emphasis falls naturally on the most recent entries – the concern is with the most current news and with representing the order of reception. I can imagine a number line with the top most blog entry at position zero and everything else appearing in descending order through the sequence of negative numbers. The problem, however, is that I scroll the sequence of blog entries as though they are organised in ascending order from first to last. The scrollbars obey the logic of the traditional journal while the entries are structured as a descending stack. We encounter then something like a clash of logical and spatio-temporal metaphors. This is most obvious, for instance, when my numbered “Media” entries appear in reverse order.

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