The hornet’s nest round

I was expecting this round of reactions to the “biblioblogosphere” piece to happen first (before the positive reactions) and with more force–that’s why I came close to abandoning the essay. But it’s really hard to throw away 50 hours of work and 7,000 words, particularly when you find the results fascinating.

Now it’s happening, on two levels:

Critiques of methodology and limits, including my lack of non-English blogs (an editing error, explained in a previous post), claims that I should be requesting and analyzing server logs from every library weblog, and others.

Posts, two of them long, thoughtful, and even eloquent, that assert that the article is harmful because rankings are pernicious.

What’s also happening, to my delight, is bloggers pointing out specific library weblogs worth looking at and providing their reasons for suggesting a look. Blogrolls don’t do that; blogrolls are just sets of links. (There’s an overlap between the hornet’s-nest posts and those recommending lesser-known blogs.)

I’m printing and collecting all of this stuff (sorry, but that just works better for me than trying to put it all together looking at words on dozens of different web pages). I really do plan to blog about other topics here (one other one today, if time permits). I’ll keep collecting feedback, direct and indirect, and almost certainly put some of it into a C&I essay.

I have no idea at this point how to come to a conclusion for further work. Do I take two long essays that consider the profiles to be harmful more seriously than, say, 20 short reactions that want to see me continue? Is it really true that in every online “community” those who aren’t included in a list will automatically feel bad about themselves and denigrate their own blog? (I find that hard to believe, particularly based on the reactions I’ve gotten from people not profiled…) Are library bloggers really that thin-skinned or that dependent on the roar of the crowd?

Damned if I know.

8 Responses to “The hornet’s nest round”

  1. Fiona Says:

    Walt,

    Your methodology has much in common with content analysis. Perhaps in your followup study you could use some existing software (eg http://academic.csuohio.edu/kneuendorf/content/) to analyse what people are talking about and when.

    I don’t think there’s anything inherantly wrong with rankings, after all the subscriber numbers in Bloglines shattered the myth that no one knew who was most read some time ago. Though I do think that a further study is required to interpret that data further. I don’t think there is a hierarchy in library blogs, as your results show it is relatively easy for some new ones to gain an audience.

    It’s great to see people suggesting who else to read – this was also recommended by the Blogtalk conference I attended, who somewhat controversially also recommended that people remove ‘A-listers’ from their blogrolls.

    As for not wanting to throw away work you’ve spent a lot of time on – I know how that feels! I’ve been working on a content analysis of newspaper articles for two years on and off, and while I can’t bring myself to finish it, I can’t throw it away either.

  2. Filipino Librarian Says:

    i certainly hope you will continue. the next time someone refers to “blog people” as if we’re all illiterate, we can show them some good examples backed up by numbers.

  3. walt Says:

    Fiona: Content analysis? Summarize who’s talking about what?

    Maybe a project for someone else. To me, that would be trading a hornet’s nest for quicksand… Automated content analysis makes me nervous (as a writer and a rhetoric major), and for me to apply it to library-related blogs would be, well…just not going to happen here.

  4. Charles Bailey Says:

    Hit a nerve with that article? Given that blogging is a very personal medium, that’s what I would have suspected. But, it was a great article, and the frenzy of comment highlights it’s importance. Keep at it. I think you are on to something here.

  5. Angel Says:

    Well, I am glad you did not give up and toss the materials out. I think the Filipino Librarian puts well in suggesting it will be work like yours that will validate what we do as well as show the rest of the world that bloggers are not an illiterate bunch. Whatever you decide, I am sure it will be good work. Best.

  6. Mark Says:

    I think it was an interesting exercise in many ways, and while I clearly noticed and paid attention to your disclaimer about it being “a” list, I am ambivalent about it–agreeing with statements made on both sides.

    I also was aware of many of the blogs in the published report, but some were new to me. Now that I’ve gone and looked at the spreadsheet I see there are quite a few I was not aware of before. So, thanks for that Walt!

    That, though, brought up another issue. I, for one, am not thin-skinned enough to worry if I was in “the list” or not. In fact, I’d be kind of worried about the state of the biblioblogosphere if I were. But to find that I’m not even in the ‘small l’ list at all is a bit different. Maybe it’s those darn ellipses in my blog title since only one blog that does not start with a letter is listed in any of the indexes. Or, now that I look again, maybe I have to submit my URL to the indexes to be indexed. Oh well, just another minor methodological issue to consider. How many other newish blogger, like me, don’t know we have to “advertise” in the indexes.

    This is not a criticism on my part Walt, because I am comfortable with where I am in the conversation; just something to consider. So, thanks again for doing the study Walt! I have learned many things from it.

  7. walt Says:

    Mark raises an interesting point: Just how do new weblogs get discovered? For people who already have a reputation (for good or bad), it “just happens”–the new blogs show up in at least one of the directories. For people new to the scene–who in many cases are the most interesting ones to watch, because they’re new voices–it’s a little tougher.

    Should I use different discovery tools next time (ITIANT, the constant disclaimer: If There Is A Next Time)? Suggestions? How big a pool is reasonable?

    At this point in the ongoing discussion–which I’m certainly not trying to shut down, ’cause it’s fascinating, and will be interesting to try to meld into a followup essay–I’m convinced that the overall effect has been to the good, if only because I’ve seen a number of posts on “interesting blogs you might not have heard of–and why they’re interesting.” But I’m biased…

  8. Filipino Librarian Says:

    i just saw this now after seeing on the latest C&I that someone had commented on my comment. anyway, i’d like to answer your question: “Just how do new weblogs get discovered?” i was always surprised in my early days at how people found my blog–people who aren’t bloggers themselves–and so tended to ask them “how’d you find my blog?” when they communicated with me.

    many of them, of course, found my blog because either i commented on a post somewhere, or because i did some shameless plugging on a yahoogroup. but that was after a few months of blogging when i felt more confident about what i was doing.

    in the first few months, i saw that i had some readers. i didn’t know who or where they were, but they were there. it was not until i became part of a yahoogroup that i found out that one of the members had actually recommended my blog to the group! and when i wrote to the member who enthusiastically made the recommendation to thank her, i also asked, “how’d you find my blog?” and her answer? “google.” it seems that i chose the right, google-friendly title for my blog.


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