Voting records on various websites, when organized simply by chronology within a tenure are placed top-to-bottom in either a chronological order or a reverse chronological order. Each order would be determined by the purpose of the record, be it historical or contemporary, respectively.

If a biography of an inactive legislator were constructed and his voting record were portrayed it would likely be in complete chronological order starting with the beginning of his governmental service and ending with his most recent actions at the end of the narrative. This, I think, would be obvious. I see this rarely because retired legislators, and indeed retired politicians, rarely have their deeds depicted in cold statistical presentations and often see their lives told in a sort of prose. That narrative usually skims details and only features the most important, vital aspects or the items most relevant to the point or agenda of the narrator, historian, pundit, or writer.

Records of more-or-less contemporary politicians, especially those in legislatures, must be complete to remain relevant sources, or they may be ignored or replaced as such. When these exist as static presentations with individual data sorts or variable in preset order, not as different items with a sorter, then the stuff is usually in reverse-chronological order because the most relevant is the present-day legislation and the past leading up to that is underneath. When the items are created and existing separately and can be sorted however by different search settings then it may be something presented in different orders, but in general this stuff is either in chronological order, for pure biographical purposes, or reverse-chronological order for different research purposes.

Of course I do not know enough about search technologies or enough to these technical terms to avoid it seeming like I am just talking, but there has to be a reason for all of this.

The Ultimate point for conjecturing reasons is that the Washington Post has charts for voting records of US Congressional legislators, even temporary US Senators from Massachusetts, and for some reason it is presented in a reverse chronological order. Similarly MichiganVotes.org presents its stuff, like these “support” votes of State Senator Cameron Brown are in reverse chronological order (and yet it has all these separate lists for separate sorts of votes and different stretches of time). MichiganVotes.org commits to this complete with the sin that most weblogs commit by continuing along the conventions of reverse-chronological listing:

Votes 21 to 30 of 751

Votes “1” through “20” were the twenty most recent votes, not the first twenty votes. The “21 to 30” is misleading because it is not historically the 21st vote and so on, and the “Previous 10” are the ten most recent and the ten nearest to the front of the list. The “Next 10” are chronologically the previous ten votes. WaPo, short for the Washington Post, does not commit that sin. To go back to the previous page of newer votes, the second pages would be “More Recent Votes”, in Paul Kirk’s instance, the link goes to “page1” and the “Older Votes” link on page1 was first, and headed to “page2“. “Older Votes” is to the right of “More Recent Votes” and so on. This at least is a resistance to the old problems. I wish, however, that WaPo had one page with one chart with all the votes of whatever type, given how comparatively short was the tenure of Paul Kirk as US Senator.

The best way to tackle this is not in terms of broad generalities with the specific variables of votes, but to see it in terms of weblogs, so I will steal how Shamus Young does in “A Philosophical Question About Hyperlinks”, which is about ordering archives:

When you get to the bottom of the page on a blog and they have links to go to earlier entries in the archives, the link usually has an arrow pointing either to the right or left. Which is correct? And should this link be called “prev” or “next”? Blog entries are posted in reverse-chronological order. This seems to confuse people. Do we reverse EVERYTHING, then? If we think of each group of posts in the archive as pages in a book, then which way is it read? Are new pages added to the beginning of the book, or the end? Destructoid has a link at the bottom which points left and says “Next”. It links to earlier entries. The same link on my site points to the right and says “Prev”. I’ve seen blogs that use other combinations, such as a rightward “next” or a leftward “prev”. Without worrying about the “correct” or “standard” way of doing things or what the “default” behavior is, just picture it in your mind. Which makes the most sense to you and feels intuitive?

Blog entries and archives of government actions are different things but on the internet there is consistency whenever and wherever the latest thing accomplished is supposed to be the thing that people want to have noticed first or the most. Yet there are different perspectives and ideas.

Ergonomic Cat

Left pointing arrow ” and “

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