The Blogging Sutras

An old thread

An old thread

I’ve been using the term threads lately. Then Christopher asked me whether that meant simply topics, which it does. Immediately and instinctively, I heard alarm bells ringing in my head: Had I succumbed to a cliché or jargon?

I seem to have picked up the word thread from the blogosphere, for which it seems uniquely suited. Many bloggers weigh in on any number of topics. But organizing disparate posts within each topic becomes a challenge, given that a blog is one single stream of posts mixing all topics together. (Tags help, of course.)

So the word thread seems perfect. Why? Because it’s an old idea for, in effect, exactly that situation.

The Sanskrit word for thread is sutra. It comes from the same Indo-European root that gave us to sew. But ancient Yogis and Buddhists and Hindus began using it as a metaphor for stringing (sewing, threading) together aphorisms into a coherent and larger whole.

Hence Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, or the much more famous Kama Sutras (excerpt above), or any number of other high-minded thought-constructs around a given topic of interest.

So, the term seems to fit. A post is really an aphorism, and a blog is really a clew of threads. (Feel free to cry foul if you smell a cliché, but it works for me. Indeed, I may rename this blog The Hannibal Sutra.)

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Tell me about my threads

My WordPress statistics page tells me that the readership of The Hannibal Blog is climbing at a good clip, but it tells me little else. I know nothing about the interests, tastes and proclivities that brought, and keep, most of you here.

So please take a nanosecond of your hectic online life and vote (ie, click) in the poll at the bottom of this post. I’d like to know which of the threads on The Hannibal Blog engages you most and least. I’m not necessarily planning on changing anything (I will always blog whatever is on my mind), but I’d love to know.

As you will have noticed, The Hannibal Blog currently follows several threads:

  • My book: Anything to do with my book, obviously. But at the moment, while the manuscript is with the publisher, there is not much to report. I have yet to work out the title and publication date with my editor, and I don’t want to give away too much plot too early.
  • Writing: Brainstorms on book-writing and writing in general; and, coming out of that, story-telling and language in general.
  • Ideas: Intellectual currents/nuggets that strike me as interesting, whether or not they have anything to do with my other threads, such as my series on great thinkers.
  • History: Backdrop to some of the stories that will appear in the book, mostly from ancient history, but occasionally from recent times.
  • The Economist: Anecdotes and color from my day-job and life at The Economist. Of great interest to some subscribers, certainly, though possibly not to the rest of you.
  • The media: Musings on my industry as a whole–ie, thoughts on journalism, newspapers, the media.

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