I love reading Joel Spolksy's blog (actually pretty much everything the guy writes is a gem). Today, he performs an absolutely amazing Tamudic examination and explication of Steve Gillmor's latest rant about... well Steve tends to cover a lot of ground when he posts so there are a number of subjects in play. (Disclosure: I also enjoy reading Steve for very different reasons - there's a certain amount of mental exercise that comes from following him down the rabbit hole.)
I heartily recommend you read this post for two reasons. The first is for the sheer joy of reading a great writer stretching out having some fun in an unusual and engaging way. The second is to understand a deeper point - the criticality and wrong-headedness of assuming that when you write, your audience understands the references you include without some guidance in the form of links.
Here's Joel's setup of his post. It's classic Spolsky.
Nobody I know can understand a thing Steve Gillmor is talking about, mainly because he makes so many obscure references without explaining them. I thought as a public service I would provide a detailed exposition of his latest blog post, Bad Sinatra. My goal here was to explain just about everything, and I hope it’s not too tedious. It works like the Talmud. First I’ve got a paragraph quoted directly from Steve. I’ve taken the liberty of adding hyperlinks, which are not in the original article, and correcting an accidental edit which renders one of the paragraphs nonsensical.
Then I went ahead and bolded all the terms that needed definition, including names that were relevant. Those are defined in the “Rashi” section below each paragraph.
Finally, I added my own commentary in the “Tosefot” section. The idea is that the Rashi stuff helps you understood what Gillmor literally meant, while the Tosefot section contains more in-depth commentary addressing the actual points he’s trying to make.
It took me over three hours to research and explain all this, and, as you’ll see if you follow closely, Gillmor’s entire argument fell apart under scrutiny, so I don’t think I’m going to be doing in-depth explanation like this again.