Conversations (But Still They Blog, 5)

This post is about Chapter 5 of But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, now available at the special introductory price of $29.50 paperback, $20 PDF.

This 319-page trade paperback provides a sweeping look at liblogs (blogs created by library people but, generally, not blogs that are official library publications), with trends, facts, figures, graphs, and profiles for each of 521 liblogs. It continues the most comprehensive detailed look at liblogs (or any category of blogs) that I know of, showing measurable characteristics and how they’re changing over the years.

Conversations

Is blogging publication or conversation? Yes and sometimes. Blogging is always a form of publishing—but some posts on some blogs become conversations. The conversational function varies heavily from blog to blog, and newer tools—particularly FriendFeed and FaceBook—may have weakened blog conversations, with the odd result that some extended FriendFeed conversations are based on blog posts and might otherwise take place on the blogs.

Some blogs don’t have comments, either because the blogger doesn’t allow them or because the posts don’t attract comments. And, there are some blogs where I couldn’t determine the number of comments—although there are also blogs where I couldn’t track length but could count comments.

This chapter considers overall comments for each blog during the three-month study periods (March-May 2007, 2008, and 2009)–but also the more interesting metric: conversational intensity or average comments per post. There’s an anomalous change in the highest overall comments (dropping from 1,689 in 2007 and 1,219 in 2008 to 581 in 2009), almost certainly the result of one particular blog moving onto the inscrutable (or at least unmeasurable) LJ/SLJ blog platform–I’d call it “blowing a fuse,” but that would be a cheap joke. In fact, highest conversational intensity went up sharply in 2008 (from 28.9 to 53.0) and stayed up in 2009 (51.0), although the gap between the highest CI and the second highest CI was huge (second highest: 13.8 comments per post, with four others over 10).

The chapter also includes three-year patterns for changes in conversational intensity. It’s hard to draw any overall conclusions, since over the 2007-2009 period, roughly 40% of blogs increased significantly (more than 20%) in conversational intensity while another 40% decreased significantly!

Liblog Profiles

These blogs are profiled in Chapter 5 because they were either among those with the most overall comments in 2009, the highest conversational intensity in 2009 or at least 50% more conversational intensity in 2009 than in 2008–and they hadn’t already been profiled in Chapters 1-4.

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