Archive for September, 2008

Old movies and lifelong learning

Posted in Movies and TV on September 30th, 2008

Sometimes I think that the best learning sneaks up on you, particularly when you’re a few decades removed from college.

Here’s the scenario:

  • After I completed the 50-Movie Westerns pack and watched the movies on Disc 10 of the Hollywood Legends set, since I like alternating discs between two sets, I chose the Comedy Classics set to start next.
  • The first disc is a set of five collections of shorts. Four are themed (Our Gang, Stan Laurel, Keystone Cops, Fatty Arbuckle–which I’ll start watching today). One is not: It’s three shorts that seem to have nothing in common other than being two-reelers.
  • The first two shorts in that non-cluster were a trifle bemusing. One was a Chesterfield-sponsored “mystery” that had nearly five dozen stars and was done mostly to raise money for a TB sanatorium. One was apparently a very early talkie, where the amusement seemed to come as much from well-synchronized sound effects as anything else.
  • Then I got to the third one: La Cucaracha–and I’m deliberately not providing an IMDB link, because that would spoil the story. It was (it is) fairly enjoyable if not terribly comic, with a slight but workable plot, a couple of good music and dance numbers, some reasonable humor–and mostly a LOT of color, aided by its Mexican cantina setting with the costumes of the dancers, etc. “Technicolor” also shows up three times in the credits, in interesting ways.
  • I’ve long since learned to write my review before going to IMDB, modifying it later if necessary. In this case, I wrote, “I’d guess that this short was done partly as an early demonstration of three-strip Technicolor, since it has so much color and specifically has a range of colors that didn’t really work in two-strip Technicolor.” I thought that it was partly demo because of the prominence of the Technicolor-related credits and because it seemed to have awfully strong production values for a two-reeler.
  • Sure enough, when I looked it up on IMDB, I found that it was the very first live-action three-strip Technicolor film, and even won an Oscar (for best comedy short, which I suppose is possible, but this sounds more like a misplaced technical achievement Oscar). And, fortunately, the color was very well-preserved even in this public-domain version.

Now here’s the thing. (“Get to the point, will you?” I’m getting there.) A year ago, I would never have surmised that this must be very early three-strip Technicolor–and I might not even have known there were both three-strip and two-strip Technicolor processes.

But in watching the very old movies, including one or two that supposedly had color but didn’t in the version I watched as well as one that had a distinctly limited color palette, and in checking out IMDB and other sources about the movies, I learned some things about early color moviemaking–not intentionally, but through absorption.

I’ll never be a film historian or a great critic, but I’d learned enough to make a reasonable, and correct, supposition. That’s lifelong learning–maybe small, but satisfying.

Here’s to more of it, as occasions arise.

(I’m now also acutely aware that “Our Gang” did not describe one cast of characters, with or without the “Little Rascals” modifier. And that I find the 1936 “Spanky era” group a lot more interesting than the 1932 “Jackie Cooper era” group… And that Stan Laurel on his own in silent short subjects may be an acquired taste.)

Up to speed and out of print: A catch-up post

Posted in Liblogs on September 24th, 2008

I have a growing list of topics I really should blog about (yes, blog about–I have a separate list of C&I topics, although one can lead to the other). I plan to get to some of those posts Any Day Now…but, frankly, have been absorbed in working on The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008. It’s a voyage of discovery, both in terms of seeing what’s happening and in learning or relearning things like the options for copying an Excel chart to Word (where I’d love to retain full editability–but I really don’t want the Word chart to change if I change the Excel values).

I’m setting the book aside for now (three chapters done, first draft at least; at least six to go, not including the “second half” of blog profiles) to focus on some essays for Cites & Insights and a title for a forthcoming talk–and maybe I’ll do some genuine, honest-to-WordPress blog posts (as opposed to reposting PLN Highlights posts, posting reviews for a disc’s worth of old movies, or announcing C&I).

Meanwhile, two items that may or may not be of interest:

Up to speed

I guess I’ve already covered that. Phase 1 of the book is complete, resulting in a very long chapter containing 607 brief blog profiles (which will be revised later on) and one fairly substantial Excel2007 workbook: A base sheet 607 rows deep and “S”–I guess that’s 19–columns wide; a derived sheet (references to some of those 19 columns, plus a bunch of derived numbers) also 607 rows deep but “AD”–I guess that’s 30–columns wide; and a “working” sheet that starts each little subphase as a values-plus-formats copy of the derived sheet, then gets manipulated to look at quintiles, build charts, create pivot charts, etc. Oh, and a separate results workbook to save off results that I know I’ll need separately–and because it’s just easier to have one workbook on one screen and the other on the other, in separate instances of Excel.

So far? It’s turning out to be quite interesting, but I’m not ready to start noting intermediate results. Here’s what I have so far, again in polished-draft form:

1. Introduction and overview

What this is all about, how I built the universe, some special notes (e.g., software used–and yes, there are still a few MovableType liblogs out there, although 18 doesn’t compare to the 230 WordPress and 222 Blogger liblogs), notes about authorship and affiliation, and some graphs related to age of liblogs.

2. How many posts?

Looking at the number of posts in each blog in the two study quarters (March-May 2007-2008), including quintiles for each year, quintiles for the change from 2007 to 2008, graphs as appropriate, a list of blogs in the first (most posts) quintile for 2008, and a few notes about “subsets” (e.g., blogs whose authors are affiliated with public libraries, blogs affiliated with medical institutions, etc.–I think there are six or seven subsets large enough to evaluate)

3. How long?

A similar analysis–but this time there are two sets of metrics: Overall blog length and words per post, in some ways a more interesting figure.


And that’s where it stands as of today. If I make good progress in the afternoons and on weekends with C&I essays and other stuff (columns, LITA, etc.), I’ll start in slowly on the next chapters; otherwise, I’ll set them aside until I can focus. Lots of good stuff here–and I’m particularly looking forward to Chapter 7, a three-factor analysis that will actually show whether a significant proportion of liblogs have “fewer posts, longer posts, more comments per post” or whether that’s a false or skewed supposition. (Well, it should show a lot more than that–but there are 45 different models for the three factors, even assuming only three values per factor: Significant growth, significant reduction, about the same. Yep, 45: 3x3x3=27, plus 3×3=9 (posts and post length) for blogs without comments and 3×3=9 (posts and comments) for blogs where length couldn’t be measured. Fortunately, that should work out to three tables and a whole bunch of commentary…

Out of print

I may be a slow learner, but I can take a hint.

There have been no sales of either Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples since June–and exactly one sale of Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples since June.

Barring a significant increase in sales, I’ll accept that these books apparently didn’t serve a real need and remove them from sale–probably around the beginning of 2009. That may make the (so far) 34 copies of Academic Library Blogs collector’s items…or not. (OK: There haven’t been any sales of either year of Cites & Insights since January–but I really wasn’t expecting any.)

Oh, and just for fun…

Sponsorship opportunit(y|ies)

I’m still open to the idea of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 having a sponsor, at the right price. Shoot me a line.

Or, you know, I’d be delighted to work with the right agency on a combination of writing, data analysis/research and editing. My PLN thing is distinctly part-time. If you’re interested–again, shoot me a line (waltcrawford at gmail.com).

Visitor: This I can live with

Posted in Language on September 19th, 2008

Credit where credit is due: I picked this up first in Andy Powell’s post at eFoundations–but I was reminded of it by Lorcan Dempsey’s longer discussion at Lorcan Dempsey’s blog.

Both posts point to “Not ‘natives’ & ‘immigrants’ but ‘visitors’ & residents” by Dave White at TALL Blog.

Here’s White’s suggestion (the same paragraphs Powell quoted, but I’m including a little more of each):

The resident is an individual who lives a percentage of their life online. The web supports the projection of their identity and facilitates relationships. These are people who have an persona online which they regularly maintain… the resident considers that a certain portion of their social life is lived out online. The web has become a crucial aspect of how they present themselves and how they remain part of networks of friends or colleagues.

The Visitor is an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises. They may book a holiday or research a specific subject. They may choose to use a voice chat tool if they have friends or family abroad. Often the Visitor puts aside a specific time to go online rather than sitting down at a screen to maintain their presence at any point during the day. They always have an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there…

In effect the Resident has a presence online which they are constantly developing while the Visitor logs on, performs a specific task and then logs off

I like this terminology. It’s not pejorative, it’s not generational or ageist, and–as White makes very clear in the post–it’s not black and white, it’s a spectrum. All three bloggers have identified the key difference as attitude, not age.

Different, not better or worse

That’s the biggest thing for me. As White says, a visitor may actually be more skillful in some online settings than a resident–but a visitor is less likely to gravitate immediately toward social-web tools and to be “connected” 24/7. I suspect visitors are also less likely to be dismayed when useful tools lack social components.

Mostly a visitor

As you can guess, I’m mostly a visitor. I say “mostly” because I certainly have a web presence, and I do spend some time in the LSW Meebo room (less time than I’d like to, probably more time than I can afford to, the latter because I’m a poor multitasker). My “visitor” nature may have something to do with my decision to leave Twitter–and while I’m still thinking about Facebook, that may also be a poor choice for a visitor. (It’s pretty clear that Ning just didn’t work for me because I wouldn’t provide the ongoing presence it seemed to require.)

In a time when respected organizations seem to delight in labels that are clearly pejorative–and when even some of my colleagues and friends seem only too happy to engage in casual ageism–I salute Dave White. Good terms, good explanation, good thinking.

50 Movie Hollywood Legends, Disc 10

Posted in Movies and TV on September 17th, 2008

Gold, 1974, color. Peter R. Hunt (dir.), Roger Moore, Susannah York, Ray Milland, Bradford Dillman, John Gielgud, Simon Sabela. Elmer Bernstein, score. 1:59.

Quite a cast and quite a plot. The action’s centered in a South African gold mine—but the plot’s centered in a secret cabal. The gold mine’s separated from a huge body of water by a natural barrier. The cabal figures that, if they could break through that barrier, it would flood not only this mine but the whole district, thus (supposedly) raising the price of gold by 30% and naturally elevating all the other mining stocks. It would ruin this particular company and kill a few hundred miners, but that offers short-sale opportunities (and almost all of the miners are black).

The second-in-command at the gold mine (Dillman in one of his properly villainous roles) is part of the plot. He gets Moore appointed as the new mine manager, figuring he won’t ask too many questions when he’s told there’s really more gold on the other side of the barrier—if you just blast through deep enough. But Moore (when he’s not seducing or being seduced by the second-in-command’s wife, Susannah York) is sharp enough to set up a safety, a second set of explosives that would seal off the situation if the “gold on the other side” report turns out to be wrong. Ray Milland plays well as York’s grandfather and the head of the mining company. Gielgud is part of the cabal—a group nasty enough to blow up one of its members (and family) when he starts to sell off stock too obviously and early.

Lots’o'plot, particularly as the bad guys conspire to make sure the safety can’t work. A strong opening sequence in the mines, and a stirring final fifteen minutes, mostly in rushing water deep in the mine. Generally a very good print and sound. Not a great movie, but not a bad two hours either. $1.50.

Home Town Story, 1951, b&w. Arthur Pierson (dir.), Jeffrey Lynn, Donald Crisp, Marjorie Reynolds, Alan Hale Jr., Marilyn Monroe. 1:01.

Man climbs off a plane. Group comes toward him, one of them making a crack about political campaign. Man slugs him. As we find out, this fellow served five years in the Armed Forces, was immediately elected to the State Senate, and was defeated for reelection by the son of a local manufacturer—and he has a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood. He’s also the nephew of the newspaper owner who’s only to happy to make him editor, and he’s going to Tell The Truth About Big Business.

First, he sets out to show that the manufacturer discharges stuff into the stream it’s next to—but he’s assured that it does no such thing. So instead he starts writing editorials about excess profits and how they hurt the country. His best friend is so disgusted he’s about to quit; his long-time fiancée doesn’t know what to make of it; this oddly recognizable secretary with a remarkable figure has a few lines. The manufacturer comes in to discuss his theory that corporate profits only happen because of consumer profits—that if someone doesn’t profit more from buying something, they won’t buy it.

After the editor laughs him out of the office, he gets a phone call: His little sister (?) is trapped in an abandoned mine, there on a school outing. Everybody jumps into action with remarkable speed, flying the little girl to a hospital in the manufacturer’s plane—and when she’s saved, the manufacturer happens to notice one of his company’s motors on some piece of equipment at the hospital. Suddenly enlightened, the editor decides he should really be an editor and give up politics, and writes a new editorial about the good side of corporate profits.

Now here’s the thing. The little girl was in trouble because (a) the for-profit mining company failed to properly shore up and close up the mine when it stopped mining—you know, that would have cost money—and (b) the employees of a for-profit company doing some work on what was supposed to be a closed road to the mine didn’t take the time to put back the warning sign, and I believe it was the employee who thinks the editor’s a troublemaker who couldn’t be bothered. So another moral might be “There are good companies and there are bad companies.” But I don’t think that’s what General Motors, who apparently commissioned this odd little propaganda piece, had in mind. I’m sure glad we’re reassured that responsible companies never, ever dumped chemicals in streams back in the Fifties, though. That’s probably why the Cuyahoga has always run sweet and clear. Alan Hale Jr. does a good job as Slim Haskins, the buddy/reporter. Strictly as a curiosity, with an odd little role by Marilyn Monroe (who isn’t one of the stars), I’ll give it $1

Meet John Doe, 1941, b&w. Frank Capra (dir.), Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Spring Byington, James Gleason, Gene Lockhart, Rod LaRocque, Regis Toomey. 2:02.

If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know the plot of this Frank Capra classic… Big businessman (Edward Arnold) takes over paper, turns it into streamlined paper, fires people—5including a columnist (Stanwyck) who really needs to work. As her last column, she turns in a phony suicide note from a John Doe who’s out of luck, fed up with everything and will jump off City Hall at Christmas. Well…people want to offer John Doe a job and there’s a possible circulation booster—so they choose one of many out-of-work people saying they’re John Doe, a baseball pitcher named Long John Willoughby (Cooper) who needs surgery to be able to pitch. They put him and his grouchy friend (Walter Brennan, who keeps talking about how Helots will grab you if you don’t stay on the bum) up at a hotel, put him on the radio—with speeches she’s writing—and soon enough, folks are forming John Doe Clubs and getting to know their neighbors.

Well, naturally, there’s evil behind the bossman’s helping John Doe Clubs: He wants to turn them into a third party and get elected President, then take over and Run Things Properly. Doe finds out about it but the big man’s goons make sure he can’t get the word out. Down and out, he’s about to make good on the suicide threat he actually never made…and, of course, it all works out.

Sounds a little sappy, but it’s not. It’s a great cast, well-written, well-directed, well-acted, well worth watching. It’s not a wonderful print, but it’s not bad, and the movie’s a classic. $2.00.

His Private Secretary, 1933, b&w. Phil Whitman (dir.), Evalyn Knapp, John Wayne, Reginald Barlow, Alec B. Francis. 1:00.

A very young John Wayne plays the playboy son of a millionaire businessman. The father demands the son take over as collection agent. He goes to a nearby small town to collect a debt, in the process picking up (and offending) a beautiful young girl—who turns out to be the daughter of the near-deaf minister he’s supposed to collect the debt from. He winds up forgiving the debt and getting fired for his trouble.

After various shenanigans and his continued stalking attempts to get on the right side of the girl, he succeeds and marries her—but his father assume she’s a golddigger and tells him to get rid of her. Somehow, she winds up becoming her father’s new private secretary—the best he’s ever had—but then leaves town because she thinks the playboy’s still a player. Everything works out in the end: This is, after all, a romantic comedy, if a surprisingly short one. Nothing spectacular, but not bad. I’ll give it $1.25.

Cites & Insights 8:10 (October 2008) now available

Posted in Cites & Insights on September 16th, 2008

Cites & Insights 8:10, October 2008, is now available.

The 28-page issue is PDF as usual, although HTML versions of each essay are also available from the Cites & Insights homepage or via the links below.

This issue includes five essays:

Trends & Quick Takes

Improving patents, the future of the internet, why I give Pew such a bad tometime (although, given Seth’s comment, maybe I should leave this), the HD watch, the purloined bibliography and invisible gifts, plus five quicker takes.

Interesting & Peculiar Products

Six of them–including a hockey-puck home theater PC and a digital projector that throws a 98″-diagonal image from 15 inches away–and six Editors’ Picks and Group Reviews

Net Media/Making it Work: Blogging about Liblogging

A range of posts and commentary about liblogs and library blogs, some up to a year old, all worth noting.

Offtopic Perspective: 50 Movie Western Classics, Part 2

From the sublime (The Outlaw) to the ridiculous (Gone with the West), with spaghetti westerns, singing cowboys and much more in between–including Bill Shatner playing an arrogant, sexist, tinhorn ruler who doesn’t happen to be on a starship but is instead a half-Comanche bad guy (White Comanche)–and Shatner also plays his sort-of-good-guy twin. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Retrospective: Pointing with Pride, Part 6

The responses to my “copyrights and wrongs” quiz, remembering some 1989 projections for the world of 2000-2001…and lots more.


A note about the HTML versions:

I’ve been tweaking the Word template used to do quick-and-dirty HTML from a document that’s primarily designed for print/PDF output. I’ve indented the text to leave a little white space on screen, for example. I think it’s getting better–but the process still yields strange gotchas now and then, such as strings of forced blanks I don’t believe should be there (this time, I think, only in quotes that are also bullets).

I don’t spend that much time cleaning up the HTML versions. They’re just there as a courtesy to those who just can’t abide PDF, for whatever reason. Cites & Insights is fundamentally a PDF publication, and I spend my layout time trying to get that to look good and work well.

Liblog Landscape Phase 1 complete

Posted in Liblogs on September 13th, 2008

As of a few hours ago, the set of liblogs to be used in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral View is complete. I am not accepting new candidates.

The final set includes 607 blogs–thanks to a number of additions suggested by various correspondents and  one subtraction (David Lee King informed me that his old blog, since superceded, is now entirely gone–so I deleted the stub entry for it, of course leaving his current blog).

The page listing the 587 blogs up to September 4 has been deleted, replaced with a stub pointing to the LISWiki Weblogs page.

Thanks to those who provided new candidates–and particularly to those who actually read the criteria before sending in their own blogs for inclusion. I think the 21 additional blogs justify the one-week delay in starting Phase 2 (analysis and book-writing). A month ago (or so), in the throes of trying to do metrics for the first 573 blogs and deciding whether to add to that list (I got a grand total of 14 more blogs by going through blogrolls in 240 liblogs, which may explain why I didn’t go through all 573!), I set as a plausible milestone that I’d finish Phase 1 while I was still a lad of 62. I made it, with a few hours to spare…

I’ve added a new “Liblog Landscape” Category for those who may want to follow this project as it continues. I’ve retrospectively added tags for the first few posts, and will add new posts whenever it seems appropriate.

Sponsorship

The offer still stands: If someone (library school, library-related agency, whoever) wishes to make this a sponsored project, I’d be delighted and will offer what I consider to be reasonable terms. If that happened, I’d make the resulting book free as a PDF and priced barely above production costs as a paperback, and would publish much more of the results in C&I (and at the sponsor’s site, if appropriate).

I will not, of course, be holding my breath…

Now, off to do the metrics on the last three or four additions and take a breather before beginning Phase 2.

Firefox 43%: Wow!

Posted in Technology and software, Writing and blogging on September 9th, 2008

Every day or two, I check log statistics for the PALINET Leadership Network–most of them 30-day statistics (with a few 24-hour figures as well).

I’m usually looking at 24-hour pageview counts, referrals, and popular pages (although there’s an oddity with the wiki such that I actually use MediaWiki’s internal counters for tracking page popularity)…but once in a while, I look further down in the FireStats report.

Like today: “Browsers”–where I’d expect maybe 75% IE, 20% Firefox, whatever.

What I see: Internet Explorer 49.3% (sigh: More 6.0 than 7.0) – and Mozilla Firefox 43.0%! (26.6% 3.0.1, 12.8% two subversions of 2.0.0, and then a whole bunch of minor revisions beyond that.)

Wow. Now, some of that is me–but certainly not more than, say, 1% to 3% of total usage. So let’s say 40% of “actual” usage is Firefox. That’s impressive. (“Unknown” is 4.3% and everything else is 3.4%, with all the Safari versions maybe adding up to 1%, maybe the same for Opera.) Chrome doesn’t seem to show up yet.

Operating systems? Also a little surprising… Windows 84.9% (Vista 22.8%, XP 54.6%, various others…), Linux 6.7%, Mac OS 2.6% (OS X 2.5%), Others 0.3% (SuSE Linux, Ubuntu each 0.1%, four other variants even less.)


I’d offer similar numbers for, say, this blog–but Urchin’s numbers don’t make a lot of sense, probably because of aggregator usage. Thus “Platforms” is (unknown) for 70% of sessions, and it claims that no Vista user reached the blog over the last 30 days, which means I never visited my own blog…which strikes me as, oh, improbable.

Incidentally, yes, I did download Chrome. For me, it’s disqualified at this point not just because it lacks FF’s addons–but because it won’t let me see web pages in my choice of typeface. I really and truly get sick of Arial/Helvetica, but most of the time what I see is what I choose, because both FF and IE allow that.

New liblogs: The short version

Posted in Liblogs, Writing and blogging on September 9th, 2008

Based on mail and comments I’m getting, I suspect the 1,373 words of this post is eliciting a “tl;dr” reaction in some people (“too long; didn’t read”). So here’s the short version:

1. This list is not a resource. If it was, the names would all be hyperlinks. It’s just a checklist to see whether I already have a blog in the study. (I’ll provide a resource later on–but maybe not here.)

2. A candidate blog needs to have:

  • Started in December 2007 or earlier.
  • Have at least one post in March 2008, April 2008, or May 2008
  • Be at least vaguely library-related (don’t worry about that one) and not be an official library blog.
  • Have some other blogs linking to it–that’s the Technorati “authority”
  • Be in English (or at least mostly in something that looks like English

3. The best place to publicize a new liblog is probably the LISWiki Weblogs page.

That sums it up in 158 words (169 including this line).


I should also note that, as of 6 p.m. Tuesday 9/9, I’ve added ten more blogs to the survey spreadsheet based on your comments and email–blogs that do meet all the criteria. Thanks.

Library newspaper columns and blogs – followup

Posted in Libraries, Writing and blogging on September 6th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this request, with this followup.

I said that if I received at least two responses I’d write an article in the Library Success wiki and possibly the PALINET Leadership Network, also maybe a post here and something in C&I.

Well, I’ve written the Library Success page and a somewhat longer PLN page (including the prefatory material).

I’m not going to do a post with the results or write a direct C&I article for two reasons:

  • After three hours fighting with MediaWiki’s so-easy markup, I’m not about to translate all that back to HTML or Word syntax.
  • It would be redundant. You can link to either page.

Thanks to those who responded. If I get more responses, I’ll update the articles–but, of course, they’re wikis–people can update them themselves. For a small addition, it really is easy.

New libr* blogs? A one-week limited-time request

Posted in Books and publishing, Passé on September 4th, 2008

NOTE: If this post is too long, please read this 169-word version.


I’m finishing up Phase 1 of The Liblog Landscape, 2007-2008: A Lateral View (possibly not the final title). Phase 1 has two parts: Identifying liblogs that should be part of the study/survey, and doing the blog-level metrics for those blogs.

Right now, the list consists of 587 blogs. You can see the list here (yes, it’s in alphabetical order, leaving out initial articles and symbols), or click on the last of the “Pages” in the right column (which gets you to the same list).

The Request and Deadline

If you know of a blog or blogs that meet the criteria below and aren’t currently on the list, let me know–either by commenting here or by sending me email at waltcrawford, domain gmail.com. (Note: If you comment and include more than a couple of blog names and links, it’s possible your comment will be trapped as spam. That’s OK: I check spam before deleting it.) Please include the URL, although if you only have the blog’s name, chances are I can locate it.

Deadline: Friday, September 12, 2008.

On Saturday, September 13, the first thing I’ll do online is turn comments off for this post and delete the page with the current list (or at least hide it).

Then I’ll take any candidates received, double-check their qualifications, and add them to the spreadsheet. Starting September 14, I’ll proceed with Phase 2–overall metrics and analysis.

Criteria

A new blog must meet all of the following criteria to be included in this study:

  • In English (or predominantly in English).
  • Somehow related to libraries or librarianship
  • Not a “library blog”–not an official blog of a library.
  • Started prior to January 2008: There must be at least one post from 2007 or before.
  • Active in March-May 2008: There must be at least one post dated March 2008, April 2008, or May 2008.
  • Open for reading: I must be able to reach the blog without passwords or special procedures.
  • At least vaguely visible–and this one’s the toughest to define. See below:

Visibility: I don’t want to include “close friends & family” liblogs on the assumption that such bloggers probably don’t want larger audiences–that they’d prefer to stay “under the radar.” Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to measure base visibility–particularly now that pop.urio.us seems to consistently return “0″ for Bloglines subscription count. (The measure I had been using was that my logarithmic “visibility” measure had to be at least 1.0–which meant, in practice, that the sum of Bloglines subscriptions and Technorati “authority” had to be at least 9.)

So for now, I’m going to use external visibility–the extent to which blogs are mentioned in other blogs–again with a very low cutoff. To wit, the Technorati authority needs to be seven or higher, or, for blogs that haven’t been “claimed” for Technorati, there must be at least seven different blogs in Technorati’s reaction results.

If you know of a liblog that meets all those criteria and isn’t already on the list, let me know!

Broadly representative, not universal

I know the study isn’t going to include “every visible English-language liblog meeting these criteria.” That’s just not plausible, and I won’t ever make the claim that it does.

I will claim that the list is already broadly representative, and I suspect it represents the overwhelming majority of what’s out there (with these criteria). I’ve already gone through the LISWiki blog list (twice), the Library Zen source list, Meredith Farkas’ wonderful “favorite blogs” results, and some other sources. I’ve done some second-level retrieval, going through blogrolls in blogs already on the list–but after going through 240 and finding only 14 usable new blogs (and none at all in the last 70 I checked), I can’t see taking the time to go through the other 340+. So I’ll certainly miss a few. Thus, this request.

What will and won’t be said about blogs in the survey

Note that I am not offering anyone the chance to “opt out” of this survey–and I think the following should allay any fears you might have.

The heart of the book will be overall metrics and analysis, and particularly lateral changes and any useful correlations I can find in those changes. I’ll also probably do some metrics and analysis for subsets of the blogs–e.g., by affiliation of blogger (e.g., academic, public, school, law…). I’ll almost certainly do some three-year analysis for the 220+ blogs that were in the 2006 survey, since I can track some (not all) of the objective metrics for the same quarter of 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Yes, each blog will have its own section (and those chapters might make up more than half the pages in the book), but the text on each blog will be entirely objective and will not include visibility in any way, shape or form. (I may do some visibility correlation and analysis for the first 573 blogs in the survey, but not at a blog-by-blog level.)

Included:

  • Name of blog (typically as expressed in web page title)
  • First portion of blog tagline/motto, unless it’s a quotation from someone else
  • Author (if evident) or “group blog” as appropriate, if not already in blog name or tagline
  • Affiliation of blogger (if evident) – type of library or, in a few cases, focus of library (law, medical, science)
  • Starting date for the blog, based on internal evidence–and once in a while noting name changes.
  • The three most frequently-used categories or tags or labels, in descending order, other than the equivalent of “general” or “uncategorized,” if it’s easy for me to figure that out.
  • A metrics table for 2007, 2008, and changes from one year to the next, for those blogs with any posts in March-May 2008. Metrics include number of posts during the quarter, total length of posts, length per post, total comments, comments per post, total figures, figures per post. Quite a few blogs will be missing some lines, either because they don’t allow comments (or there weren’t any) or they don’t use figures or, sigh, because the nature of the blog doesn’t allow me to calculate total length of posts without way too much effort. Metrics will include quintiles for 2008 and year-to-year changes, as appropriate.
  • A metrics paragraph, offering (as appropriate) a textual version of some of the quntiles and a textual version of the posting frequency and changes, based on a “per week” or “per day” measure. And, for blogs with no 2008 posts, either a note on the final post or the March-May 2007 figures, or both.

Not included (noting that most of these were actually in the draft chapters as I was doing metrics, but are all gone now for what I regard as good reasons, length certainly being one of them):

  • Visibility measures of any sort. Period. An earlier chapter will explain why, in some detail.
  • URL for the blog. I’ll probably mount a spreadsheet or web page with the names and URLs of all blogs in the survey–but in a print book or PDF, that’s mostly useless info, and blog URLs change.
  • Software and typography. I’ll have some summary notes on use of the major programs and typographic choice, but this is both changeable and not significant at a blog-by-blog level. (I reluctantly removed the notes on the handful of blogs that use color combinations that challenge the reader. With feeds, they don’t much matter anyway, and they’re apparently oh so hip. I won’t even have summary notes there.)
  • Descriptive or judgmental notes. At least not in the book. My snarkiness was turned off while preparing this in any case–I’d already adopted the grandmother rule (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”), but found that I was “not saying anything” for quite a few blogs that I considerably admire, because there wasn’t anything concise and useful to say. So I ripped them all out.
  • Portions of posts: I had only included a few of those anyway–maybe 20 particularly intriguing items in the first 200 blogs–before I realized it just wasn’t practical. They’re all gone.

Summing up

Got blogs? Let me know–if they meet the criteria above.

Deadline: Friday, September 12, 2008.


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