Designing Good Page Names

Context: You're creating many notes in your Digital Garden, and you want each note-page to have a "good" Name.

Forces:

  • Pattern Language designers tend to give each Pattern a short name representing a Solution (state/object).
  • Short page names are easier for you to remember, and "anchor" into a shared vocabulary.
  • Short names can be used "in-line" in many sentences in many pages.
  • Giving a Claim or Question its own page is a good record/anchor of your attention.
  • Distilling a mushy page of notes into a pithy Claim can be a good Thinking Tool. Andy Matuschak: ...declarative or imperative phrases making a strong claim. This puts pressure on me to adequately support the claim in the body.
  • Longer pithy page names are summaries/reminders of their entire contents. (Andy Matuschak: Evergreen Note titles are like APIs
  • Longer interesting page names are more likely to get someone's attention in a Feed or in search results. That's especially true if the phrase is an interesting Claim or Question.
  • TwinPages are a handy way to find other people's pages of shared interest: Webs Of Thinkers And Thoughts
  • Longer page names are less likely to have exact TwinPages in someone else's digital garden.
  • A Claim might be tweaked to improve its robustness: Claim Refactoring Service
  • You might agree with a Claim at one point in time, and then disagree later.
  • Search engines don't like content to exist on multiple pages

Related pages: Automatic Linking, WikiWord, WikiName, FreeLink, LinkAsYouThink, PageName as URL, Cool URLs Don't Change, IBIS, Digital Gardening

Solutions:

  • When getting interested in an area, create a page for that area/topic, preferably with a 1-3-word title/name.
  • list/link related topics/objects, even if they don't have pages (yet)
  • spend 5 minutes writing out what you know/believe about the topic
  • spend 5 minutes writing questions you have about the topic
  • when you decide to spend at least 5 minutes on a single Question, first re-view the Question and consider re-wording it. When done, link that Question to kick off a new page. You might want to start by writing what you already know, or why you care, unless you feel the parent-topic page covered that enough.
    • If a peer has a Question page, considering copying that. Though you might decide to Refactor that.
  • when reading/highlighting resources or journaling actions, link to that Question
  • if you get "fairly certain" about a Claim or Answer to your Question, spin it off into a page. Link appropriately.
  • if you later want to Change a Question or Claim, or disagree with it, you might
    • choose to Rename it, (more appropriate if it's a minor change?)
    • or you might just make a new page using the new wording, leaving behind a log of the thinking/process that led to the new wording
      • change the first line of the old page to refer to the new one, so the average reader doesn't have to follow the whole page, only to discover at the end that it was a dead end
  • as you generate new Questions and Claims, make sure they link to a context-setting page, whether it was the previous Question/Claim, or the parent-topic page, or whatever
  • try to have every long-name page link to a short-name page
  • if a long-name page is the most important thing you've written about a short-name page-topic, link the short-name page to the long-name page
  • your original topic page turns into a Roadmap Page to the various pages of questions/answers/etc - so you probably want to update/structure it accordingly

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