Liblog landscape: Opinions requested

Currently, I’m working on the first part of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008–the part where I look at patterns among the blogs. It’s going well, and I’m just about to start on the chapter that interests me the most.

But there’s also the second part–the brief profiles of 607 liblogs. I’ve written that part, but will be going back to edit and to add information that wasn’t available unitl I did the (first few chapters of) the first part.

Most profiles (excluding blogs with no 2008 posts) include a table providing a whole bunch of metrics, some of it included in a brief textual version below the table.

Where I could use your opinions:

Right now, the tables include seven lines, with five pieces of information on each line:

  • Posts
  • Total length
  • Post length (that is, average words per post)
  • Comments
  • Comments per post
  • Figures
  • Figures per post

Here’s the question:

Could I drop the second, fourth, and sixth line without damaging the usefulness of the profiles to readers?

That would leave:

  • Posts
  • Average post length
  • Comments per post
  • Figures per post

Anyone sufficiently interested could figure out approximate total length, comments, figures with a calculator, of course. (Not precise, since I don’t include lots of decimal places.)

The advantage:

Space! At 40-45 lines per page, removing those three lines would save up to 45 pages. (The number’s not quite that high because I don’t include zero lines–that is, there are no lines for comments if there aren’t any and no lines for figures if there aren’t any. I’d guess the actual savings will be 30 to 35 pages.)

What do you think? Will the profiles be significantly less interesting/useful without the three total-amount lines? (If your overall response is “Nobody in their right mind would ever buy this book, anyway,” don’t bother saying it. Adding a comment does not imply that you’ll buy the book–not that I’d have any way of checking that in any case!)

Your opinions would be most useful in the next three weeks–before, say, October 24 two weeks–say by October 17. I hope to be ready to do the editing pass around that time.


Updates: This post provides rough examples of actual tables for those who are visually oriented.

Since the responses have died down (and seem to be unanimous so far), and since other work is progressing nicely, I’m making the deadline a week earlier–October 17.

6 Responses to “Liblog landscape: Opinions requested”

  1. Michelle McLean Says:

    I don’t see that anything will be lost. Go with your amended list – it will still be very useful.

    Thanks for all your work – I really appreciate this big picture look at library blogging.

  2. walt Says:

    Thanks, Michelle. While I suspect sponsorship won’t happen, in a way that’s too bad: Based on what I see so far, I think this is going to be a really interesting and useful piece of work–and it may only reach a few dozen or (cross fingers) few hundred people.

    The most useful part of the book will, I think, be the first X chapters (X is probably 10, but I’m not quite sure yet), maybe 100 pages, maybe more…but without the profiles, it would be woefully incomplete.

  3. Jennifer Macaulay Says:

    I would have to agree with Michelle. I don’t think much would be lost. Overall, post length and comments per post are probably much more meaningful. I am also looking forward to the finished product!

  4. Peter Murray Says:

    Thanks for posting the example, Walt. That helped in thinking about it. I agree with Michelle and Jennifer about leaving out those three metrics. I think this is a case of “more is less” and the results will be clearer.

  5. John Dupuis Says:

    I agree. Less is more. Personally I’m much more interested in your analysis and opinion than in the data tables. I’m not sure if you could get away with leaving them out entirely, but even using a smaller font to reduce the page count would be ok.

    I do hope that you’ll put as complete a table as you have online somewhere. If I recall correctly, you did that with one of the other studies and I did end up playing around with the table a little.

  6. walt Says:

    Opinion? I don’t know that there will be a lot of opinion in this study. Analysis, yes, at least some of it.

    As to your hope, John, given lack of sponsorship and lack of anything like a full-time income, I’m not sure I can justify giving away several hundred hours of work. Yes, there will be a list (either Excel or a page with hotlinks) of all the blogs included in the study. But the master spreadsheet…well, if there are enough book sales or other revenue to represent even California minimum wage for the time spent, maybe I’d post the spreadsheet. Things were different when I was fully employed. The effort involved in this study may be a fool’s errand, but I’m not sure I’m ready to compound the foolishness by giving it away up front.


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