Notebooks discovery (conversation)

Pinned notebooks
Not just riffing on github features, but I think it would be nice to show what others created > and pinned as their top works.

Sorry if this comes across as a rant:

Pinned items is only the most minimal kind of workaround for what I call the STORK (‘infinite STream Of Random Krap’) pattern now pervasive on the web. (edit: cf.

What web communities desperately need if the goal is to serve authors and readers (instead of just juicing ‘engagement’ numbers) is curation and at least a modicum of permanence. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube, newspaper websites, … all suffer from the conversation-killing feature that everything that shows up on one of them is almost immediately pushed off the top page by the next round of ‘content’, and the stream volume is so high that if you didn’t notice something in the brief window of first impact, it will probably scroll past and you’ll never see it. If a conversation starts, it often dies within a day, and consists largely of strangers talking past each-other. Obscure algorithms decide what readers should get to see and when.

The big internet community success in the opposite direction is Wikipedia. There, the produced artifacts are permanent, communal, and constantly improving. Conversations are long-running and it is easy to track down past parts of the conversation. But Wikipedia was born in a different time on the internet, when mailing lists, web forums, personal websites, etc. were still used in preference to centralized ‘social platforms’.

For now the best way to curate and discuss Observable notebooks is somewhere outside of Observable (e.g. private email, web forums, face to face conversations, personal websites, …)

The Observable ‘Collections’ feature is a start, but it is not generally accessible.

.@jrus I strongly disagree. Nothing in what I’ve suggested is STORK, but I had a good laugh reading your take on that and pervasive ignorant web and social media shares. Good read. Thanks for that.

I just got the feeling that @mbostock and @tom wanted to build a better nbviewer for the JavaScript dataviz/analytics community, interactive data narratives to liberate data and educate the public, and potentially other computer savvy folks to share good public data sources and analysis approaches, so I jotted a few notes there from my 1st week of explore and my personal thoughts on what I’d do to make it better.

I like the Recently Published and My recent notebooks additions. Trending topics hashtags would def. surface more interesting notebooks to explore on this @system

+1 on Exposing Collections to the beta testers since I’ve noticed most contributors craft notebooks for their domain area of expertise and know how and I’ve enjoyed exploring many of those. I just wish they were bundled better at times :wink:

There is a value in collecting and organizing long-running data beyond emails and forums and making it more accessible and I am a fan of the latter.

For the record, I :heartpulse: Wikipedia. Different medium for a much broader audience in my opinion and perfectly suited on how it’s build out.


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Sorry, what I mean by “STORK” is the whole concept of reverse-chronological index pages as a primary (or only) discovery mechanism. Blogs, facebook, twitter, … are all organized around this principle, and the incentive created is for authors to make “viral content” which is accessible to the widest audience and comprehensible with low effort from readers, because artifact visibility in the STORK model is inherently impermanent. (Which is quite different from the type of artifacts you might want to put up in a museum, publish in a research monograph, sell as a product, …) Features like “trending topics”, etc. can save time for readers browsing the feed, but just accelerate these incentives. A feature like “pinned items” which float at the top of someone’s personal feed is the smallest step toward giving authors some kind of curation / presentation control. It would be welcome though.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the authoring tools in Observable are fantastic, and the reverse-chronological-feed method of discovery is pervasive among platforms on the modern web, so I am not upset that that was followed. I just generally wish that more of the web was structured differently.

@jrus you wrote a bunch again. I am still not sure I follow your rants.

Perhaps we should exlore it more in depth on other channels. I dish my dirty laundry here:

I still would like most if not all of my JS notebooks dev wishes transpire at some point.


.@mike & @tom I know you’ve mentioned that you will eventually add notebooks hashtaging for better notebook surfacing beyond the keyword search which currently pulls in lots of mostly same clones and forks.

When can we start creating Collections or sprinkle our notebooks with hashtags to surface other good reads?

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I’m curating my own list @


nice! I still wish we could create our own permalink collections or hashtag notebooks beyond just creating a master collection notebook on subjects or code snippets we like or working on.

.@Fil in the meantime, I think I’ll follow your lead and just create my own curated master notebook collections for some of the dataViz subjects I’ve been exploring on observable.

.@tom Question: is there an easy way to reference a notebook with the thumbnail display similar to how this forum site does when notebooks are linked?

also I like the curated ObservableHQ collections like

but they are a tad too d3 heavy if you ask me