My dbcdb pages now can have a list of external links attached to them. This is a feature that I’d been wanting to add for a while – until now, the links from within these blog entries probably served as more of an annoyance to my readers than anything else, since the information on those pages was unlikely to be of interest to you. (Except maybe the hidden Amazon link, about which more later.) But now they can potentially serve as a way to make my blog a bit richer – if I refer to, say, a book from within a blog post, then they provide an easy way to find other blog posts where I talk about that book in more detail. (At least once I go and add more links into my dbcdb database.)

The issue of how to handle related posts is, I think, not an uncommon problem for bloggers to run against; c.f. Tim Bray on a variant of the problem.  There are lots of solutions, each suited for different manifestations of the problem, but I like this idea of adding an extra layer of indirection by sticking a mediating web page (my dbcdb pages) in the middle.

Once I decided to take that approach, though, there were two different implementation strategies: I could either add links manually to the database every time I posted about a book/game/whatever, or I could let a search engine find all blog entries that refer to that book/game/whatever. I decided that the latter wasn’t completely satisfactory: not all posts that refer to a given book are created equal. For example, half of my dbcdb blog entries link to the page for The Arcades Project not because they have anything to say about that book but because I’m using that as a default example. Also, one main argument for search, namely that manual indexing isn’t scalable, doesn’t apply here: manual indexing should scale just fine in this case.

Having said that, search also has its value for this: you might (or might not!) be interested in all blog entries where I, say, make an offhand mention of a certain video game, one that I might not choose to put in the index. So my next story will be to add an automatic “search my blog for references to this” link to all entities. With luck, that will give me the best of both worlds. Also, while I’m adding links, I’ll get rid of the ISBN/ASIN fields and replace them with an explicit Amazon link.

Before I started doing this, I realized that, if I didn’t first get rid of MemoryCollection in favor of SqlCollection, I’d have to do a tiny bit more useless typing to implement this. Since I’d been planning to do that soon anyways, I figured this was the time; it turned out to be quite pleasant, using (the classes that implement) the CLI tool’s interface. Yay. And, in doing so, it increased my appreciation for dynamic typing; I might go on about that later, but if nothing else it emphasized that I really do need to spend some time soon playing around with a dynamically typed language.

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