Tag Archives: blog

Now featured on The First Casualty: my mistakes

An example comparison of different versions of the same post.
An example comparison of different versions of the same post.

One of the oft-noted pitfalls of online journalism — whether conducted by online-only publications or by traditional print/media outfits that have migrated online — is the lack of transparency over changes made to posts and articles after they’ve already been published. Many, for example, have observed The New York Times change headlines and even article text after posting them online, even after people have read the original version.

It is, in fact, this problem of unmarked revisions that gave rise to the truly stellar site NewsDiffs.org, which explains: “For better or worse, readers can now view ‘the making of the sausage’ that historically was discreetly tucked away from view with dead-tree editions.” The site scrapes the articles appearing on home pages of news organizations (currently The New York Times, CNN, Politico, and BBC) and archives each iteration of the ones that change after publication, so visitors can see what was revised.

Well, a few years ago, a developer named Scott Carpenter, responding to a “manifesto” written by Scott Rosenberg in which he called for news organizations to build a Wikipedia-style public revision history, built just such a plugin for WordPress blogs.

Fast forward to yesterday. Blog post revisions have been an ongoing internal question for me: I try not to change a post after publishing it if at all possible, but obviously I have to break this rule for a variety of reasons from time to time. If it’s something small, such as a grammatical error or a typo, I change it as soon as I see it, without noting the correction. If it’s significant, I usually add the word CORRECTION or UPDATE to the bottom of the post, to note the change. Inevitably, there are gray areas.

But I have yet to come up with a red-line rule on when to note a correction and when not to. Nor have I settled on a hard-and-fast point at which a post becomes “non-updatable.” (Generally, once I’ve written a subsequent post, I don’t update previous ones. But even on that, I’m not sure I’ve followed this rule 100% of the time: I’ve been blogging for over three years and am closing in on 700 posts, so I haven’t kept close track.)

Enter Scott Carpenter’s handy plugin. (Thanks, Scott!) I just read about it for the first time yesterday, and I immediately realized it would work perfectly for my purposes. Now, on all posts going forward and on every one that’s already been posted since the beginning of the blog, every published revision is publicly viewable. To take a look, go to any single post’s perma-linked page (just click on the post headline from the home page), scroll to the bottom of the post, and you’ll see a list of all post revisions, complete with links. If you click on an older version of a post, it will load it — and you can even scroll to the bottom again to see a side-by-side comparison of what has changed since then.

If you notice any problems or bugs, please let me know!


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We are now fully Facebooked


As you may have noticed, I’ve finally brought The First Casualty into the 21st century. By this I mean, of course, that I’ve finally gotten rid of the old WordPress Like button and replaced it with a Facebook Like button (see above, if you’ve been living under a rock for about a decade or so). You may have also noticed that my posts now use Facebook’s commenting system as well. (Posts with pre-existing comments under the WordPress system will retain those comments, but you’ll now be able to add Facebook comments to them as well. However, the little comment counter under the headline for each post now only counts comments written using the Facebook system.)

These changes make sense on a bunch of levels. But the main reason — and the most obvious one as well — is that everyone’s on Facebook. Thus, by integrating its functionality into my site, I’ll be able to reach a broader audience and have a larger conversation this way. The Facebook-style comments and the Like button will work exactly the same way on The First Casualty as they would on any other blog or site.

Hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to Like and comment whenever the urge hits! Which should be often, of course.

Adding to the archives

I’ve just imported all posts from my old blog, 50 Books for 2010. Longtime readers will know this (hello, family), and the rest of you can probably surmise as much from the title, but that blog chronicled my attempt to read — and review — fifty books in 2010. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work, but until now it had remained on a separate site.

Well, it’s still there, but going forward it’s now right here at The First Casualty too. So you can search through the archives, check out reviews of your favorite books, and so on. And feel free to leave comments on anything you (dis)like! I’ll read and respond to them.

The new First Casualty

We’ve finally made the switch to an independently hosted site — meaning the blog’s going to be more customizable and will allow for a lot of cool new looks and features going forward. (Case in point: you can now comment via your Facebook or Twitter logins.) Let me know what you think of the new look in the comments section! There will probably be a few glitches here and there, so make sure to keep checking back. Also, if you’d already subscribed to the blog before, please double-check to ensure you still are; I believe everyone’s been transferred over but you can just re-subscribe if not.

And, as always, thanks for reading!

– Jay

Fresh new faces at The First Casualty

One of the most important aspects of blogging successfully is keeping current. Lately, I’ve found this increasingly hard to do, as school-related and other extracurricular projects have eaten away steadily at my rapidly diminishing free time.

Paradoxically, even while posting less, I’ve probably spent more time thinking about the blog recently than I used to in the past, however. And I think I may have discovered a partial antidote to the large periods of silence between blog posts: guest contributions.

The great thing about inviting others to join me on this blog from time to time is that it accomplishes several objectives at once: 1) it adds valuable new perspectives (and even ideologies) in a wide array of fields and niches to a site that tends towards one-dimensionalism, 2) it relieves some of the pressure on me to post ever more frequently, and 3) it keeps the blog current.

I’m not yet entirely certain what form the guest posts will take, but a few general guidelines are already taking form in my head. Although I cannot guarantee any regularity to the posts, as this depends on my schedule and theirs, the general idea will be for each guest blogger to specialize in something they have studied (or are studying) at an advanced level, worked on professionally, or otherwise engaged in on an academic or professional (or comparably rigorous) level.

Over the next several weeks to a month, expect to see some really interesting topics (ones I am neither qualified nor courageous enough to write about myself) written by some truly fascinating people. At present, this group is limited to a small handful, but I fully anticipate adding to this team as we go forward. Tell your friends!