Archive for December, 2009

Cites & Insights: Accepting Direct Support

Posted in Cites & Insights on December 12th, 2009

Since we’re now about a week (or two) away from the first issue of Cites & Insights Volume 10, and since there have been no hints of sponsorship from any quarter, I’m doing something else–something I did in 2004 for a few months, before YBP began sponsoring C&I.

I’m inviting and accepting donations–with a PayPal Donate button on the C&I home page (and the FAQ page).

When I did this in 2004 (also doing Amazon Tip Jar, which I’m not this time), I had mixed feelings: While C&I was and is (I believe) a substantial service to the library community, we were both working full time at what were probably robust salaries in library terms, if not so much in Silicon Valley terms.

Times have changed. Our “semi-retired” earned income is a lot lower than it was in 2004. (We’re not hurting–being semi-retired is partly by choice–but it’s now true that the loss of sponsorship represents a significant percentage decrease in earned income.)

There are a couple of other differences from 2004:

  • Back then, I suggested an appropriate donation range for a year’s worth of C&I, without requiring any given amount. One donation was so low as to appear to be a deliberate insult, akin to leaving your waiter a quarter as a tip. (There are jackasses in every profession…) This time, I’m suggesting a range for single-issue donations or whole-volume donations ($7 to $8 for an issue you find particularly worthwhile, $25 to $50 for a full volume, either less or more happily accepted)–and since I won’t know why a donation is offered, I won’t be offended by a “low issue” donation, although I’d wonder why you’d bother.
  • Back then, I suggested that the percentage of readers who found it worthwhile to donate might influence the future existence of C&I. That’s uncomfortably close to a threat, and I’m explicitly not saying anything of the sort this time around. If nobody contributes at all, that won’t automatically cause C&I to go away. If you find C&I worthwhile, read it. If you find it worthwhile enough to contribute, and you can afford to do so without putting yourself in a bind, great. If not, no problem.
  • I’d like to think that C&I over the last five years has been better and more broadly useful and relevant to librarians than it was over the first five years. But I would think that, wouldn’t I?

Anyway, there it is. No pressure, no guilt, no threats. If you think Cites & Insights is worth paying a little for, and you’re easily able to do so, fine. If not, also fine. As you’ll see on the C&I home page, there’s also a “not planning to get rich” clause: If donations ever exceed the inflation-adjusted amount I was getting from a sponsor, half of the excess will be donated to appropriate causes.

Oh, and if you plan to contribute $0.25…why not just flame me in the comments instead, and save yourself the quarter?

PS: I’d still love to have a sponsor. If you know of someone who might be appropriate, let them know. If and when there’s a sponsor, the Donate button will disappear.

Why People Blog–and How Blogs Change (But Still They Blog, 10)

Posted in Liblogs on December 12th, 2009

This post is about Chapter 10 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.

Why People Blog–and How Blogs Change

This study includes 521 blogs. What they have in common is that each involves one or more “library people” as defined very loosely—people who have some connection to the library field and write, at least part of the time, about library-related issues.

How do these people blog, and how is that changing? That’s largely what this book is about, on an objective, quantifiable basis. I discuss qualitative areas in Cites & Insights from time to time.

Why do these people blog—and how is that changing? There are many reasons for blogging, some more sensible than others. Here’s my quick take on plausible and implausible reasons for starting and maintaining liblogs, followed by some comments from bloggers themselves.

The chapter begins with some reasons I believe people blog–just a few of the many–and continues with material from the July 2009 Cites & Insights, followed by new material (some of which will probably appear, in different form, in the January 2010 Cites & Insights).

I believe it’s an interesting and worthwhile discussion, which is why it stayed in the book (there’s nothing similar in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008) even as it became clear that this book was on the long side…

Profiles

The following blogs, mentioned in Chapter 10 and not previously profiled, are profiled in Chapter 10.

Correlations and Averages (But Still They Blog, 9)

Posted in Liblogs on December 11th, 2009

This post is about Chapter 9 of But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, now available at the special introductory price of $29.50 paperback, $20 PDF.

Ordered your copy yet? I won’t claim it’s a great holiday present (unless you’re stuck for a gift for library people who write blogs), but if you buy it now at the bargain introductory price, you’ll have it in time for Midwinter–just the thing for that long plane flight. (And I’ll be happy to autograph it, as is true with any of my books…)

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.

Correlations and Averages

A short chapter, and I can’t claim to have found anything startling. It’s much less graphically interesting than the corresponding chapter in the earlier book, as I chose not to prepare scatterplots (they’re fun to do, but I didn’t find them meaningful in these cases).

Profiles

None–which isn’t surprising, because no individual blogs are named in Chapter 9; it’s all about overall patterns, such as they are.

That’s also why this post is “doubled up” rather than appearing a day after the post on Chapter 8.

Patterns of Change, 2008-2009 (But Still They Blog, 8)

Posted in Liblogs on December 11th, 2009

Here comes another verse, not quite the same as the other verse…

This post is about Chapter 8 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.

Excerpts

There’s one peculiarity for 2008-2009 that wasn’t present in 2007-2008: Half a dozen blogs that went from no posts to some posts—and are included because they also had posts in 2007. Since moving from nothing to something is an infinite increase, these show up as having significantly more and longer posts with significantly more conversational intensity…

If patterns of change across the landscape were completely random, each of the fully-indented rows (combinations of three metrics changes) would have roughly 56 blogs and 1,660 posts and show 13% in each percentage column.

None of the eight patterns is close to those figures.

Three outliers are interesting:

  • The most common pattern by far is the “discouraged” pattern: Fewer, shorter posts with less conversation. That pattern represents 125 blogs (28%) but only 11% of the posts.
  • The next most common patterns are two with fewer posts and more conversation—77 blogs with longer posts and 71 with shorter posts. Combined, those represent a third of the blogs and 28% of the posts.
  • The pattern with fewest blogs is the same as for 2007-2008: More posts, but shorter and less conversational. That has 20 of the blogs (4%) and 564 posts (4%).
  • It’s interesting that two-thirds of blogs had (slightly) longer posts—and that a solid majority had more conversation.

The chapter also goes through the “better model” of triplets. You’d need to read it and study the tables to gather much meaning.

Profiles

These liblogs are mentioned in this chapter and hadn’t already been profiled–and by this time, most blogs had already been profiled.

Third try, Earlier date: Constantia, Berkeley or Berkeley Book?

Posted in Cites & Insights on December 10th, 2009

I asked a question about typography for Cites & Insights on December 4–and got four answers.

Based in part on those answers, I revised the question on December 6–and got some more responses, of which I count two new actual answers.

Which isn’t bad, really–but I’ve also looked at Urchin stats for the past week:

  • In addition to RSS reads, those two posts have been viewed directly 264 and 183 times respectively.
  • The first test C&I version (Constantia) has been downloaded 53 times and viewed 343 times (I can never quite figure out what pageviews for PDFs really mean, and have consistently ignored them in doing stats for C&I readership)…
  • The second test C&I version (Berkeley) has been downloaded 17 times and viewed 159 times.

One reading for this is that 20% of those who viewed the first post directly thought it was worth downloading the test version–and 10% of those who did so have opinions. That’s not an improbable or necessarily unfortunate reading. For the second post, it would suggest that 10% of direct post readers decided to look at the test version–but about 20% of those folks had comments. Also not unlikely.

Chances Are, Most People Don’t Care

Typography isn’t high on most people’s list of concerns, and that’s as it should be, particularly for any well-designed serif face used for print publications: To a lesser or greater extent, the typeface is supposed to disappear behind the content.

So if you read C&I and don’t really care what typeface I use (assuming I won’t go entirely nuts and start using Comic Sans or Copperplate Gothic or Kidz or something…), there’s no reason for you to respond. All three options are extremely readable on the page and at least fairly readable on the screen…and I don’t plan to change the (underdesigned) HTML version at this point. (And if you just love Arial or Helvetica: Nope, there’s no way the print C&I will start using any sans typeface, much less those.)

But In Case You Do…

Here’s one more chance–and, given that most comments appear within the first three days after a post anyway, I’m moving the deadline for responses up to noon on Wednesday, December 16, after which I’ll start working on layout for the next issue.

Here’s the deal–and feel free to ignore it if you really don’t care.

Thanks! I’ll stop bugging y’all about this.

Spaghetti Westerns Disc 1

Posted in Movies and TV on December 10th, 2009

Full disclosure: This five-disc 20-movie set was one of the freebies Mill Creek Entertainment sent me when I had a tiny problem with one set (they also corrected the problem rapidly, at no cost to me and with an apology). As of December 1, 2009, it costs $13.49 from Amazon (less from other vendors).

I regard most spaghetti Westerns (or Eurowesterns, if you want to be dignified—but Mill Creek uses the title you see above) as guilty pleasures: Colorful, usually with good production values, frequently absurd plots, loads of odd translated dialogue but fun in their own way. My critical faculties are tuned to match—but, on the other hand, you expect full color and generally good transfers, and to my surprise you even get wide screen on some of these. They’re still generally VHS-quality, to be sure, but not bad at all. Not that there aren’t occasional issues…

Disc 1

Beyond the Law (orig. Al di là della legge), 1968, color. Giorgio Stegani (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, Antonio Sabato, Gordon Mitchell, Lionel Stander, Bud Spencer. 1:49.

An unusual trio of dusty bandits robs the payroll for a silver mine through an unusual ruse, dependent on the assumption that a black man would be required to ride on a stage’s backboard instead of inside—and on his ability to go underneath the moving wagon and saw out some boards so as to retrieve the payroll from its locked hiding place.

That’s the start…and in the end, the trio of casual outlaws winds up saving the silver mine and the town it supports, through a wild and wooly set of incidents and consequences. It’s hard to say much about the plot here, but it does include a fair amount of humor, a tiny bit of romance, an unlikely sheriff (Van Cleef), a truly loathsome villain with incredibly deep cheekbones and a vicious streak (Mitchell), Lionel Stander as a spitting preacher/bandit, and an extended, complex shootout at the climax. (Apparently this was released as a 90-minute version in the U.S.; this is the uncut version.)

I’m reluctant to give most any spaghetti Western much more than $1.50 (I might make exceptions for those starring future California city mayors and Oscar-winning directors). This one, which appears in widescreen and has generally very good print and sound quality, has one rough patch in the first quarter: For two minutes or so in an outdoor scene, the dialog is suddenly in Italian with semiliterate English subtitles. Then people go inside and they’re all speaking English—and then go back outside, and there’s another brief session of Italian dialogue with English subtitles. Before and after, it’s all English, partly dubbed and partly (based on lipsynch and accents) the original actors. Strange. All in all, though, this gets $1.25.

Apache Blood, 1975, color. Vern Piehl (dir.), Ray Danton, Dewitt Lee. 1:26 [1:29].

If Beyond the Law was an unexpected pleasure, this flick makes up for it. People who believe Plan 9 from Outer Space is the worst movie ever made are sadly lacking in experience. Let’s talk about what’s wrong here—the first thing being that this doesn’t belong in the set, since it’s an American production.

Beyond that, the digitization’s lousy, with overcompression yielding block artifacts in various scenes (unless the film itself is that bad, which is quite possible).

Other than that, we have a poor 10-minute plot expanded into 86 minutes of nothing. Here’s the complete plot: An Apache chief, who along with his partner is among the only survivors of a U.S. slaughter of the tribe (which was peacefully obeying a treaty), goes on the warpath against U.S. troops. A party of half a dozen troops and a mountain-man scout knows he’s causing trouble and needs to get back to the fort—but the mountain man, who’s saved everyone’s skin once or twice, gets mauled by a bear and seems dead. They dig a shallow grave…but he’s not quite dead.

At the end of the picture, he is dead. I suppose that’s a spoiler, but it might save you 90 minutes of excruciating boredom. You’ll miss Ray Danton as an Apache and the co-writer as an overacting mountain man/scout. You’ll miss the discovery that Mescalero Apaches apparently don’t speak and that someone who’s barely able to crawl in one scene is suddenly able to run a couple of scenes later. You’ll miss some of the most incompetent filmmaking I’ve ever encountered. What can I say? This deserves a special price that I rarely give: $0.00—it’s not worth a cent.

This Man Can’t Die (orig. I lunghi giorni dell’odio), 1967, color. Gianfranco Baldanello (dir.), Guy Madison, Lucienne Bridou, Rik Battaglia, Anna Liotti, Steve Merrick, Rosalba Meri. 1:30.

On one hand, this one has English-language credits and no language oddities—and it’s fair to assume this doesn’t come from a videotape used for American TV showings, given bare breasts in a couple of scenes. On the other, there’s an unfortunate amount of sadism (the villains in this one are really villainous) and a lot of shootings—but then, it is a spaghetti Western.

The plot: Martin Benson’s a mercenary on a government mission to find out who’s sending guns and booze to a renegade tribe (in 1870—the location’s not clear, but the date is). Meanwhile, marauders have gone to the ranch where his parents and siblings live, killed the parents and ravaged one daughter (so badly that she may never speak again!), and ridden off.

Little by little, the plots intersect. It’s not quite clear whether the title refers to Martin or to Tony Guy, presumed to be a wounded member of the marauders but, as it turns out, actually a government undercover agent. If you’ve seen many cowboy B films, you’ll guess who the primary villain is long before it’s made clear.

Lots of scenery. Pretty good score. Some very strange secondary parts and dialogue, par for the course. Beautiful women (with remarkably well-tailored clothes for 1870) and the handsome loner hero, Martin. Long, complex shootouts with no false nobility. A ballad for the opening and closing titles that makes no sense at all (also par for the course). Google translates the original title as “I hate long days,” but the alternate U.S. title “Long days of hate” seems a little more plausible… Not great, not terrible. What the heck: $1.25.

Gunfight at Red Sands (orig. Duello nel Texas or “Duel in Texas”), 1963, color. Ricardo Blasco (dir.), Richard Harrison, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (“G.R. Stuart”), Maria Maria Huertas. 1:37 [1:35].

I reviewed this flick in the 50 Movie Western Classics set in early 2008—and at the time I was watching it on a 12″ screen. This time, I watched the first quarter on a 32″ screen, and noticed how often it was out of focus or otherwise “soft” in a way that good transfers aren’t. I’ve lowered the final value from the original $0.75 to $0.50, now that I see just how poor the transfer really is. What follows is the original review:

Red certainly seems appropriate as part of this movie’s title, since it’s in an odd sort of sepiacolor that only includes shades of red, browns, wood, and other faded colors—no blues or true greens that I could see. It’s apparently an early “spaghetti Western,” with decent production values but not a whole lot in the way of acting or, well, logic.

Richard Harrison is Gringo—adopted son of a Mexican family working a little gold mine in a just-north-of-the-border town, who returns from four years fighting in the Mexican civil war. As he returns, three bandits kill the father and steal all the gold (most of it supposedly hidden). The rest of the movie deals with that—and with a town whose handsome sheriff and a group of variously mean-spirited sidekicks all hate Mexicans, even though much of the town appears to be Hispanic. (The most interesting villain is a giggling sociopath who is also, of course, a deputy sheriff.)

I guess I shouldn’t expect logic in a flick like this. Seems as though the sheriff or his clearly-murderous sidekicks would have just shot Gringo in the back or in “self defense” fairly early in the plot, but that wouldn’t make for much of a movie or get us to the inevitable (and really ludicrous) showdown. Maybe I should be impressed by Ennio Morricone’s score. I guess it’s OK. Let’s see. Other than the pseudocolor, there’s a short section where there seem to be holes in the print (that is, real holes, not just the holes in the plot). I can’t see giving this more than $0.50.

Patterns of Change, 2007-2008 (But Still They Blog, 7)

Posted in C&I Books, Liblogs, Writing and blogging on December 10th, 2009

This post is about Chapter 7 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.


So far, the book looked at one metric at a time (except for chapter 6) but a blog is more than its individual metrics. This chapter and the next look at patterns—patterns of change from one year to the next. Three elements make up the change pattern for a blog:

  • Change in number of posts: Were there more posts in 2008 than in 2007, fewer, or about the same number?
  • Change in post length: Was the average post in a given blog longer in 2008 than in 2007, shorter, or about the same length?
  • Changes in comments per post: Was the blog more conversational in 2008 than in 2007 (that is, did the average post have more comments), less conversational, or about the same?

Table 7.1 offers a simplified view of these three changes—“simplified” because it breaks blogs down into “More” or “Less” (where no change at all is counted as “More”)—and that overstates the significance of small changes.

For those who read last year’s study, note that there’s one significant change this time around, for both the simplified table and the triplets: I’m leaving out blogs that lack length metrics in either of the two years being compared. That’s never more than 10% of the blogs, and it means the tables can be considerably shorter (24 lines rather than 36 in the case of Tables 7.1 and 8.1) and easier to understand. Since every blog with a length metric has a valid comment metric (even if the comment count is zero), that further simplifies the process. Blogs are omitted if they have no posts in 2007 as usual—but not if they have posts and no comments. (Note that a blog with zero posts in both years would be counted as having “more” conversational intensity in the second year—an example of the problems with straight up-down comparisons.)

That’s the start of the chapter. Most of the chapter deals with triplets–blogs that have increased or decreased more than 20%, and those that haven’t changed all that much. It’s a rich measure; I won’t attempt to provide a summary here.

Profiles

These liblogs are mentioned in Chapter 7 and weren’t previously profiled.

Another PS

Hmm. As I was completing the book, I came upon a situation that suggested that my methodology for controlling liblog profiles (deleting them from a master document as I moved them into chapters) failed on one occasion–that I had one more profile than I should. I now know where that happened, in this chapter, and probably won’t correct the trivial error.

Standouts and Standards (But Still They Blog, 6)

Posted in C&I Books, Liblogs, Writing and blogging on December 9th, 2009

Chapter Six is entirely new–a discussion with no parallel in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008. Here are the first two paragraphs:

Before considering patterns of change (how blogs change across multiple metrics), let’s look at some standouts and standards: Blogs that are within the same quintile either across all three key metrics (frequency, post length and conversational intensity) or across all three years within a given metric, and are also within the top three quintiles for the metrics in which they show consistency.

This chapter is about consistency—falling into the same general population across several metrics. It’s not about quality, and no larger conclusions can be drawn. Think of this as a break in the narrative. You’ll discover early on that no blog is in the first quintile throughout—although two come close, with consistently top rankings in two of the three years.

In case it’s not obvious…

This post is about Chapter 6 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.

As I was saying…

Which two? The Blue Skunk Blog in 2007 and 2008; UK Web Focus in 2007 and 2009.

Beyond those, there are surprisingly few blogs that rank in the first quintile (or consistently in the second or third) across the three primary metrics even in a single year–e.g., four in the top quintile in 2007, two in 2008 and five in 2009.

Looking at single metrics across multiple years, it’s not surprising that there are more–e.g., 44 blogs are consistently among the most prolific in all three years, 26 have consistently long posts, and 45 have consistently high conversational intensity.

My overall conclusions for the chapter boil down to a single word with a one-sentence expansion:

Don’t. That is, don’t attempt to draw too many conclusions from these consistency notes—especially since some standout blogs in one or two years couldn’t be measured in other years.

Profiles

Profiles for these blogs–mentioned in this chapter and not previously profiled–appear in Chapter 6:

  • Not So Distant Future
  • The Rock & Roll Librarian
  • infomusings
  • Zzzoot
  • snail
  • The FRBR Blog
  • It’s all good
  • Infoblog
  • Random Musings from the Desert
  • Tombrarian
  • Superpatron – Friends of the Library, for the net
  • T. Scott
  • Marcus’ World
  • One Big Library
  • Library Cloud
  • LibraryTavern
  • Chicago Librarian
  • uncaged librarian
  • librarytwopointzero
  • mélange
  • LibraryLaw Blog
  • Pop Goes the Library
  • RSS4Lib
  • CogSci Librarian
  • The Bunless Librarian
  • PS

    I believe there have been, through Chapter 6, two cases where–because of their order on some specific metric–two liblog profiles appear in “alphabetic order,” that is, the same order in which they appear in the index. There is no prize for figuring out the two cases…

    Conversations (But Still They Blog, 5)

    Posted in C&I Books, Liblogs, Writing and blogging on December 8th, 2009

    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.

    The long and short of blogs (But Still They Blog, 4)

    Posted in Liblogs on December 7th, 2009

    Last year, it seemed reasonable to suppose that, on the whole, liblogs would have fewer posts but longer posts, as Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and others replaced many of the uses for very short posts.

    If anything, that’s even more true in 2009, even as a number of bloggers simply stopped blogging. One new liblog is an extreme case: In the Library with the Lead Pipe, a group blog that’s essentially an essay magazine done in blog form, with each (reviewed and edited) entry the length of a typical magazine or journal article.

    While more of the remaining libloggers seem likely to write essays rather than quick posts, there are still blogs for which the single sentence or two is the norm, including link blogs and some others.

    In Case It’s Not Obvious…

    This post is about Chapter 4 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.

    The Long and Short of Blogs

    Chapter 4 begins with metrics on overall blog length and how they’ve changed. The longest blogs seem to get longer every year: While March-May 2007 tops out at 186,467 words, March-May 2008 jumps past the 200K mark (204,517 words) and March-May 2009 finds one blog all the way up to 238,351…noting that it wasn’t feasible to measure total length of some blogs. At the same time, the median length declined each year–from 6,216 words in 2007 to 5,536 in 2008 and 3,621 in 2009.

    More interesting, however, is post length, even if it’s only practical to measure average post length. (It would be interesting to measure length distribution within each blog, but also incredibly time-consuming…) Most of this very long chapter is devoted to discussions and tables relating to average words per post and how post length in blogs has changed over the years–and to the largest set of blog profiles in the book, partly because terse blogs (those averaging less than 100 words per post) are profiled along with the essayists.

    Profiles of Longest Blogs, Essayists and Terse Blogs and Longer Posts

    These blogs have profiles in Chapter 4 because they fall into one of those four categories and weren’t already profiled in Chapters 1-3.


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