Invisibilia: A Podcast About the Hidden Forces That Shape our Behaviour [en]

[fr] Un super podcast à découvrir: Invisibilia. Ça parle des forces invisibles qui conditionnent le comportement humain. Et c'est super bien fait. Quelques histoires pour démarrer: l'homme aveugle (sans yeux) qui voit par écholocalisation et fait du vélo, la femme qui ressent physiquement ce qui arrive à ceux autour d'elle (un cas extrême de "synesthésie miroir"), le rapport entre nos pensées et qui nous sommes (sommes-nous nos pensées? quelle importance leur accorder?), et j'en passe.

I thought I’d written a post somewhere introducing the podcasts I listen to regularly. I don’t watch TV, but I do listen to a bunch of podcasts religiously: Radiolab, On The Media, The Savage Lovecast, and The Moth. Serial was great, too.

Through Radiolab, I recently discovered the new show Invisibilia. It’s actually co-hosted by one of Radiolab’s former producers, and there is clearly in the choice of subject matter a kinship with what drew me to Radiolab in the first place all these years ago.

Invisibilia is about the stuff that we can’t see and which shapes human behaviour. In the pilot season, you’ll find stories about a blind man who can actually see by using echolocation, a woman who cannot feel fear, and Paige, tragically flipping through gender categories. And that’s just the beginning. Subscribe to the podcast and start listening.

Here’s a bunch of random takeaways for me after listening to the first episodes:

  • the three “stages” in the history of our thoughts: 1) all thoughts are meaningful (Freud), 2) some thoughts are BS and we can think ourselves out of them (CBT), 3) our thoughts don’t deserve that much attention (mindfulness)
  • how important categories are in helping us make sense of the world (I kind of knew that); reminded me of India again and the utter confusion of the first weeks where all my European categories broke down, and I didn’t have any Indian ones yet to work with
  • how gently facing one’s fears works much better in getting rid of them than obsessing about them and trying to avoid their object
  • how important our expectations of what people can do are in determining what they actually are going to be capable of doing (“blind people can’t do that“)
  • venting when angry, whilst therapeutic in the moment, actually makes us more angry and aggressive in the long run

Sound interesting? Check out the list of the previous episodes. If you start listening, let me know!

Similar Posts: Still Messes Up Tags and Categories [en]

It pains me to say it, but much as I love them, they still don’t quite get the difference between tags and categories. Yes, now makes a difference between tags and categories (and have been doing so for quite some time), but they are still missing part of the equation.

  • Categories are big pre-defined drawers to sort your posts in. They’re local.
  • Tags are labels you stick on posts after you have written them. There are tons of them and they’re messy and they’re global.

Logically, links on tags should point to the general tagspace (they do) — and links on categories should point to the local category pages of that particular blog. Only they don’t always.

The “Categories” widget works the way it should. But the rest is a mess. Examples.

  • Look at the Coworking Léman site, which uses the Mistylook theme that I personally love. This article‘s category links to the general tagspace (wrong), whereas this one‘s category links to the local category page (right).
  • The La Muse site, which uses Ocean Mist, makes article categories link to the general tagspace (wrong) but at the bottom of the page, lists categories with the correct links to category pages.

I could find more.

In general, the problem seems to be that article category links are made to link to the tagspace just as tags do. I mean, what’s the point of having a difference between tags and categories (an important one, if you ask me) if you make them behave the same way in the templates? This is a major problem for me. I hope Automattic are listening and will do something about it. (I contacted support but was told, basically, that it was a feature.)

So, please, Automattic: make the links on category names link to local category pages, and the links on tag names take us to the global tagspace.


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Angst: My Categories are Still a Mess [en]

[fr] Mes catégories, c'est toujours le chenit. J'ai les outils qu'il faut maintenant pour faire le ménage, mais il me manque l'essentiel: quelles catégories un monstre comme CTTS devrait-il avoir?

My categories are a long-standing source of worry.

They were created in an unenlightened effort to “go ontological”, when I [switched to Movable Type]( By the time I [switched to WordPress]( over four years ago, I was already thinking about [cleaning up my categories]( (lo and behold, the birth of Batch Categories — I didn’t waste any time, did I?)

My categories are still [a mess]( WordPress has had [native tagging]( for a while now (I’ve happily retired the [Bunny’s Technorati Tags plugin](, [Rob]( has taken over [Batch Categories](, so it now works rather than just sit there in lists, and [Christine from the Internet]( has written a nice [Tag Managing Thing]( (which seems a bit broken in 2.5.x but might still work).

So, I could use the [category to tag converter]( and get rid of all my categories. I would feel much lighter. Then I can use a combination of Tag Managing Thing and Batch Categories (which allows search by tag, and, actually, I see it now, allows not only addition of categories to selected posts, but tags, so maybe I don’t need Tag Managing Thing for this, and this sentence is a bit long so it’s going to end here, sorry) to re-create nice categories for my blog.

But as always, here is where I stall. What categories should a monster like CTTS have?

Want to listen rather than read? It’s here:

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Tags and Categories, Oh My! [en]

[fr] Il est temps de faire de l'ordre dans les catégories de CTTS. Je veux en garder 20-30. Vos suggestions sont les bienvenues.

The time has come. [Wordpress now has native tagging.]( I’ve imported my old tags **and** my even older keywords (yeah, even though tags and keywords are slightly different… what the hell). I’ve created an [index page for my tags](/tags/) and an [index page for my categories](/categories/). Go and look, then come back.

So, what do you think?

I think the “tags” page looks pretty good (just needs a little CSS fixing so that the huge tags don’t prevent you from clicking on the smaller ones they hide). I mean, it’s a sprawling mess, but that’s what a tag collection should look like. Later, I can add fancy stuff like related tag clouds in the sidebar, or something like that.

But my, look at that listing of categories. It’s a huge sprawling mess, and it shouldn’t be. It should be a concise listing of rather widely defined areas I write in. Not easy. So, dear readers, I’m going to ask for your help.

See, I’ve installed this neat plugin, [Tag Managing Thing](, which does a lot of what I was dreaming up for a possible future version of [Batch Categories]( Well, one thing Tag Managing Thing doesn’t do which Batch Categories did, was to assign posts to categories and remove them. Tag Managing Thing only deals in organising tags and categories — **including** converting one into the other. **Update:** [Rob Miller has a Batch Categories plugin]( which should do the trick. I can’t remember if he used any of my work or started from scratch, but in any case, it looks very much like what I had dreamed up for it 😉 **[/update]**

So, here we go. I want to keep — oh, let’s be reasonable — maximum 20-30 categories. (I’ll convert the rest to tags.) Some of the new or obvious ones will remain: Events, Youth, Social Software (maybe Social Tools?), Languages… Here’s what we’ll do. I’m going to write a list of categories at the bottom of this post, and I’ll keep modifying it until it looks reasonably good. I’ll be (heavily) relying upon your input for this. Thanks in advance. I really don’t think I can do this alone.

New categories for CTTS:

– Events
– Languages
– Youth
– Blogging
– Technology
– Social Tools
– Travels
– Livre (the book)
– …

Please leave your ideas in the comments! The [category index](/categories/) handily gives a post count for each category or subcategory.

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Physical, Digital, Categories, Tags, Experts… [en]

[fr] Le numérique révolutionne la façon dont nous organisons l'information. "Une place pour chaque chose, et chaque chose à sa place" vaut pour les objects physiques. Cette excellente petite vidéo démontre ces changements. C'est en anglais, mais il n'y a rien à écouter (sauf de la musique) -- il suffit de lire.

If you’re still a bit in a fuzz about how exactly the internet is revolutionizing the way we store and retrieve information, this great little video should help. It’s pretty fast-paced (watch it twice if necessary) and the music is very nice.

Thanks to [Euan Semple]( for pointing it out.

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Tags and Categories are not the Same! [en]

[fr] Les tags et les catégories, ce n'est pas la même chose. En bref, les catégories forment une structure hiérarchique, prédéfinie, qui régit l'architecture de notre contenu et aide autrui à s'y retrouver. Les tags sont spontanés, ad hoc, de granularité variable, tournés vers le partage et la recherche d'information.

Update, Sept. 2007: when I saw Matt in San Francisco this winter, he told me he had finally “seen the light” (his words!) about tags and categories. Six months later, it’s a reality for WordPress users. Thanks for listening.

I got a bit heated up last night between [Matt’s comment that tags and categories function the same]( and a discussion I was having with [Kevin]( on IM at the same time, about the fact that [Technorati parses categories as tags](

I went back to read two of my old posts: [Technorati Tagified]( and [Plugin Idea: Weighted Tags by Category]( which I wrote about a year ago. In both, it’s very clear that as a user, I don’t percieve tags to be the same thing as categories. Tags were something like “public keywords”. Is anybody here going to say that keywords and categories are the same thing? (There is a difference between keywords and tags, but this isn’t the topic here; keywords and tags are IMHO much closer in nature than tags and categories).

Here are, in my opinion, the main differences between tags and categories, from the “tagger” point of view.

– categories exist before the item I’m categorizing, whereas tags are created in reaction to the item, often in an ad hoc manner: I need to fit the item in a category, but I adapt tags to the item;
– categories should be few, tags many;
– categories are expected to have a pretty constant granularity, whereas tags can be very general like “[switzerland](” or very particular like “[bloggyfriday](”;
– categories are planned, tags are spontanous, they have a brainstorm-like nature, as [Kevin explains very well]( You look at the picture and type in the few words it makes you think of, move on to the next, and you’re done.
– relations between categories are tree-like, but those between tags are network-like;
– categories are something you choose, tags are generally something you gush out;
– categories help me classify what I’m talking about, and tags help me share or spread it;
– …

There’s nothing wrong with Technorati treating categories as tags. I’d say categories are a kind of tag. They are special tags you plan in advance to delimit zones of content, and that you display them on your blog to help your readers find their way through what you say or separate areas of interest (ie, my Grandma will be interested by my [Life and Ramblings]( category and subscribe to that if she has an RSS reader, but she knows she doesn’t care about anything in the [Geek]( category. (By the way, CTTS is not a good example of this, the categories are a real mess.)

So, let’s say categories are tags. I can agree with that. But tags are not categories! Tags help people going through a “search” process. Click on a tag to see related posts/photos. See things outside the world of this particular weblog which have the same label attached. Provide a handy label to [collect writings, photos, and stuff from a wide variety of people]( “The LIFT06 tag.”) without requiring them to change the architecture of their blog content (their categories). If you want to, yeah, you can drop categories and use only tags. It works on []( But have you noticed how most Flickr users have [](sets) in addition to tagging their photos? Sets aren’t categories, but they can be close. They are a way of presenting and organizing things for human beings rather than machines, search engines, database queries.

To get back to [my complaint that does not provide real tags](, it’s mainly a question of user interface. I don’t care if from a software point of view, tags and categories are the same thing for WordPress. As a user, I need a field in which I can let my fingers gush out keyword-tags once I’ve finished writing my post. I also need someplace to define and structure category-tags. I need to be able to define how to display these two kids of tags (if you want to call them both that) on my blog, because they are ways of classifying or labeling information which I live very differently.

Am I a tag weirdo? Do you also perceive a difference between tags and categories? How would you express or define it? If categories and tags are the same, the new WP2.0 interface for categories should make [the Bunny Tags Plugin]( obsolete — does it?

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Plugin Idea: Weighted Tags by Category [en]

Another plugin added to my wishlist: one which would display a weighted list of “related” tags on each category page.

[fr] Encore une idée pour un plugin WordPress, qui permettrait d'afficher sur chaque page de "catégorie" une liste des tags courants utilisés pour étiqueter les billets de cette catégorie. Il y a des volontaires?

I’ve been doing some cleaning up around here — mainly the sidebar, which now tries to provide links which make sense depending on which page we are looking at. I’ve also added navigation between monthly archive pages, and I’m working on my archive index a little.

I thought Weighted Categories looked like a nice plugin, particularly as I have (too) many categories. You can now see it in action for Climb to the Stars.

These last weeks, I’ve been getting into quite a few conversations about tags and categories (and keywords). “Will tags replace categories?” seems to be the big question. I don’t think they will. They do not serve the same purpose. I’m less sure about keywords: since I’ve been tagging all my posts, I’ve stopped choosing keywords for them too. But I’m clearly aware that I do not choose my tags in the same way as I chose my keywords — so it would probably make sense to keep them both (if keywords are actually useful, and I keep getting contradictory information about that).

So, to my plugin idea: for each category page, I’d love to be able to display a list of “tags used for posts in this category”. This list could be weighted, or not. It would be pretty simple to retrieve from the database. Off the top of my head and probably with syntax errors, something like: select * from post_meta where key=’tags’ and post_id in (select post_id from table_categories where cat_id = ‘our current category’). Whee, that must be the ugliest wannabe-SQL ever written — but you get the idea, don’t you? Then, the list of tags would be parsed and weighted as are categories in this plugin.

Anybody want to take up the challenge? Actually, this might be best as an extra feature for Bunny’s Technorati Tags, as it wouldn’t be much use without tags. Let me know if you’d like to do it (credit, of course, will be given) — otherwise I’ll probably end up doing it myself at some point.

Thanks for listening to me think out loud, and my apologies to my non-techie readers — I know my weblog hasn’t been very interesting for you to read lately!

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Easier TopicExchange Trackbacks for WordPress [en]

A WordPress hack which makes it quicker to add TopicExchange channels to trackback, and makes them visible (like categories) in the weblog. (Sorry for the duplicate postings, trying to fix it.)

[fr] Ce 'hack' pour WordPress permet d'ajouter facilement des trackbacks vers les canaux de TopicExchange, et liste sur le weblog les canaux concernés pour chaque billet.

Here is a solution to make it a little quicker to trackback TopicExchange channels with WordPress, and make those channels visible in your weblog.

I love TopicExchange. When I asked Suw what they had talked about during BlogWalk, she mentioned trackbacks. I asked if anything had been discussed about trackback etiquette. For example, I’m often tempted to trackback people who have written posts related to mine, but which I haven’t linked to. Well, the consensus is that this is not what trackback is for. Trackback is really for making a “backlink”. TopicExchange is the answer to the “related posts” issue.

I’ve been using TopicExchange a lot during the last weeks, but nobody has noticed it, apart from those people who already use TopicExchange as a source of information. As Seb Paquet notes, TopicExchange needs to be made more viral. It needs visibility. What follows is my interpretation of “making ITE easier to use, and more visible.”

This WordPress hack creates an extra field in the posting form where ITE channel ID’s (e.g. “wordpress”, “multilingual_blogging”) can be entered (I was tired of typing the whole trackback URL’s all the time). It then stores these channel ID’s as post meta data (in the postmeta table), so that it can retrieve them and display links to the corresponding channels along with the post, just as is usually done with categories.

First of all, add the following code to my-hacks.php. Then, edit post.php (in your wp-admin directory) and add this code where indicated (the comment at the top of the file explains where to insert the code).

Also in post.php, after the line add_meta($post_ID);, insert the following code:

// add topic exchange channels
		$_POST['metakeyselect'] = 'ite_topic';
		foreach($topics as $topic)
    		$_POST['metavalue'] = $topic;

In edit-form.php, add this code to create an extra input field for ITE trackbacks:

$form_ite = '<p><label for="ite-topic"><strong>Trackback</strong> TopicExchange:</label>
(Separate multiple channel ID's with spaces.)<br />
<input type="text" name="ite-topic" style="width: 360px" id="ite-topic"
tabindex="8" /></p>';

It goes near the top of the file, after the line which defines $form_trackback (do a search for that and you’ll find it).

Finally, in your index.php template, you can use <?php the_ite_channels(); ?> to display a paragraph containing a comma-separated list of channels trackbacked for each post. If you want to change the formatting, play around with the function definition in my-hacks.php.

If, like me, you have old posts with trackbacks to TopicExchange, and you would also like these to appear on your posts, use this patch from inside wp-admin. The patch will tell you what meta data it is adding — just load it once in your browser and check the result in your weblog. (Don’t load it twice — it’s supposed to be able to check the existing channels in the database to avoid duplicate entries, but I haven’t got it to work. Read instructions and debug notes at the top of the patch file.)

In future, it will also be possible to use the TopicExchange API to return the “nice title” for the channels listed — so we sould have “Multilingual blogging” instead of “multilingual_blogging”. (I’ve asked, it will behas been added to the API.)

Good luck with this if you try it, and as always, comments most welcome!

Note: as far as I have tested, the code seems to work now.

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