What if your Index Page was Smart?

One thing I don’t like about most blogs (company and personal) is that their index pages tend to be unappealing reverse chronological lists of links. Basically nobody visits your blog index out of habit, especially if you rarely blog, because the content never changes. So then you build a newsletter, and Twitter presence, to notify/publicize when you do have new stuff out.

This seems ass backwards. But is the overwhelming norm.

Let’s rethink the humble Index Page from first principles.

  1. The most visited content sites in the world are bulletin boards (Reddit, Hacker News) and personalized feeds (FB, Twitter, Linkedin). They are habit forming destination sites because they have constant novelty.
  2. The most clicked and subscribed newsletters are NEWS letters. Basically simple lists of noteworthy stuff. jsweekly and dailydev and etc have >100k subscribers. hackernewsletter has 60k subscribers and is fully automated.
  3. A blog index is basically just a restricted form of a bulletin board with 1 person/company writing everything and no personalization. Distribution (newsletter/socials) is usually an afterthought and extremely manual.
  4. Many people report writers block with blogs, particularly after a big successful post, because it’s almost impossible to consistently pump out bangers. So people invent other formats like TILs - Lee Byron’s take on it - and Second Brains - to unblock themselves.

So what would a Smart Index look like?

  • Anyone/index owner can submit ALL kinds of content with any level of commentary. Meanwhile Reader can facet by content type and topics.
    • In other words, we decouple what the author outputs and what the reader consumes, by letting the Smart Index serve as an infinitely customizable intermediary.
    • A blogpost merely becomes one type of content out of many.
    • You’d also throw talks, podcasts, tweets, github issues, etc in there. This is what I currently do with https://www.swyx.io/ideas !
    • Heck, PiHole your router to track every page you ever visit and make those searchable (if you are logged in?)
  • Distribution: Readers can subscribe to RSS/receive a Newsletter based on the filter/interest topics they signed up for
    • The Newsletter would effectively derive from the same set of filter/facet choices made on the Smart Index
  • (optional) Content scoring system comprised of reader upvotes, view count, reaction count, comment count, webmention count, HN/Reddit upvotes, author arbitrary score, etc
  • (optional) Personalized faves and recommendation score, per reader
  • At a company level, this basically means turning your index page into a subreddit run by your writers and developer advocates. Why not?

What this basically ends up looking like is a ”personal data warehouse”. This is handrolled by a few brave enthusiasts now, but could be more of a product if someone out there chose to build it.


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