The conclusion I reach, from these slides, is that pagination isn’t the metaphor we should use. It’s an arbitrary grouping with no relationship to the things being grouped. In the phone book, you have a certain number of records per page, because a page is a physical thing that can only hold a certain amount of data.
Infinite scrolling is one metaphor (though I really don’t like infinite scrolling) that recognizes that much data doesn’t make sense as a page. More generally, it seems that ew should partition our data according to meaningful partition keys, not just arbitrary groupings based on sort order.
While I think it would be nice to have stable page numbers, I feel like it would be pretty weird if the first (ie. now highest numbered, because you still want to show the most recent/relevant stuff first, right?) to only have one item on it when I have 25*N+1 items to list. You also then run into the problem of people expecting X to be the first item on page 36, but if something gets deleted on page 2, now it’s on 35. I’m not sure but I feel like almost stable is worse than not at all stable.
Pagination is weird on the Internet (usually) because we want one stable URL that refers to ‘the most recent stuff here’, for example the lobste.rs front page. Once you have a fixed starting URL with the most recent N things, the obvious way to give people access to the next N most recent things is to call that page, effectively, ‘page 1 (back)’. Then the next page of the next most recent N items is ‘page 2 (back)’, and so on. You can do a more elaborate scheme where you figure out how many items you have in total, how many pages it will take to go back all the way, then number those pages forward from the very furthest back page. But for dynamic sites that’s more work at various places and mostly people don’t bother. Static sites could easily work this way if they wanted to and had aggregation pages at all, and an unchanging ‘page 1’ and ‘page 2’ and so on would actually be an advantage there.
(Some areas of the Internet are very strongly attached to forward-numbered pages; a great example is webcomics that use page numbers at all. Almost all such webcomics have the comic start with ‘page 1’ and number pages forward. The home page may show the most recent comic, but its ‘previous comic’ link goes to ‘page 1787’ today and will go to ‘page 1788’ when the next page is published. Of course this is the simple case, because these page numbers are effectively permalinks for the individual comics, not pages aggregating a bunch of comics together the way something like lobste.rs' page 2 aggregates a collection of entries.)
H m m . . .