Stepping Back, Moving On

Yesterday (September 16, 2010), I finished gathering metrics for the 2010 liblogs study–or, rather, I almost finished. (I’d forgotten one specialized directory that I was going to check; while most of the blogs in that directory are school library blogs, there were eight more blogs for the list, which is now just over 1,300. I did that check this morning–that is, Friday, September 17, 2010.)

One Little Spreadsheet

So the spreadsheet stands, except for adding countries and total posts if and as I receive more of those. There are 31,296 potential data elements on the spreadsheet: 1,304 rows of 24 columns (not including the column names). There aren’t nearly that many actual data elements, to be sure–for example, blogs that started in 2009 won’t have anything in the six columns for 2007 and 2008, and there are always missing elements for reasons of measuring difficulty.

On the other hand, when I start doing analysis, there will be more columns (probably on derivative sheets)–lots of them. Just offhand, I see somewhere between 27 and 37 additional derivative data elements per blog, thus, potentially, up to 44,548 more elements for a total of more than 75,000 data elements in all. I’d guess the actual total will be closer to 50,000. (None of this includes all the second-order derivatives: averages, medians, quintiles, correlations–but those are numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands.)

Oh, and there’s the Exclusions page, with two elements for each of 1,327 “blogs” that aren’t part of the study–and for a few hundred of those, some summary numbers may be significant.

Lots of data, in the plural science/statistics sense. I can’t imagine doing something like this as a hobby/obsession before today’s powerful spreadsheets–I mean, I’m going to be doing loads of sorting and subsetting when analysis begins, and it would be incredibly tedious without Excel. (Of course, without today’s computers, there wouldn’t be 1,300+ liblogs…)

“Little”? Excel’s not known for compactness, but each copy of the spreadsheet is just under half a meg–481K–which really isn’t bad. (That includes last year’s Derivatives sheet, which isn’t complete and is mostly still there to pick up some mildly annoying formulas.) (After my idiot Oopsie, scrambling one data element apparently because I sorted with some columns hidden, although that might not have been the reason, I’m keeping three copies of the spreadsheet, so I can always regenerate the raw data if when I screw things up during analysis.)

I’ve set that project aside, with this post as a stopping point–probably for at least a month.

Open Access

The primary project on my plate between now and then is Open Access: What You Need to Know Now–but I’m hoping for feedback from two of three external reviewers (having already received enormously useful feedback from D. Salo), and they have until October 1 to send me notes. So, while I’ll do a careful readthrough and some paper-copy markup next week, I won’t actually start editing the manuscript until October 1.

That will definitely be my primary focus from October 1 until it’s done–which I’m guessing will be a week or two. Or three. Or four: I’m going to give it as much time as it needs.

After that, and after figuring out the November issue of C&I, I’ll return focus to The Way We Blog. No estimate as to when it’s likely to be done or what “it” will be, except for the certain knowledge that “it” is not going to include 1,304 individual profiles of liblogs–not unless someone who’s crazier than I am comes through with a substantial payment to do such profiles.

Leadership and a Fall Cites & Insights

I made the C&I version of (parts of) But Still They Blog a September/October issue both because it’s almost three times as long as a typical issue of Cites & Insights [comments that there’s no such thing as a typical issue of Cites & Insights will be cheerfully blocked] but also because I wanted to clear time to do a careful job on OA and to finish up the metrics for The Way We Blog.

Well, and also because I was a little burned out on writing Cites & Insights, and had been feeling that it wasn’t getting the links it used to, although downloads and pageviews are still strong.

I really haven’t done any writing for C&I for two months–since completion of the August issue in early July. And while I’m sure I’ll start again, probably next week, I’m not sure just how and on what.

I’d thought I might have a burst of energy and do a Fall issue before the November 2010 issue. The burst of energy instead went to adding more complete metrics for the blog study–essentially, tracking all available numbers for all extant blogs instead of the most robust subset, and adding the total-posts number, which–in combination with a “Life” number (number of months from a blog’s first post to the last post prior to 6/1/2010)–should yield some interesting information.

Then I thought about something else: The shutoff of the Library Leadership Network and the 108 LLN essays (of the total 180+) that I’d saved off in HTML form. I’ve seen no real interest in finding a proper home for these, and looking back at them, it’s clear that they’d need enough cleanup (eliminating now-defunct links, etc.) that I couldn’t Just Do It without funding. To date, no approaches with any support at all.

What about taking some of the essays where my own writing played a primary role and putting them together as a special issue of C&I? That would make them available, if nothing else.

I just went through the set of essays. I could put together a cluster on blogs & wikis, but that feels a little dated. I could put together a cluster on open access, but I’ve already used some of that material as background for the book. Beyond that, most of my own writing already came from this blog or from C&I–and most of the other essays are combinations of posts, where I add a lot less annotation and commentary than I would in a C&I essay. (That’s deliberate: My primary role for LLN was as editor, not as commentator.)

So that’s really not promising. I suspect the essays will mostly just die of old age, and at some point I’ll reclaim the disk space.

I don’t believe there’s going to be a Fall 2010 Cites & Insights. I believe the next issue will be November 2010, technically the first of three “tenth anniversary” issues. What will be in that issue? Well, there’s a sizable Offtopic Essay, and I’m starting on some notes from magazines that fall into various places. Otherwise, I have a “bloggingethics” cluster in delicious that looks promising, and among the 1,237 items and 150 tags, there are a bunch of other possibilities…

Stepping Back

What I suspect I should do first, though, is take a weekend off almost entirely–not skipping email and FF and the like, probably, but letting the folders and source material just sit. Read. Listen to music. Go to the Saturday Farmer’s Market (that’s a given). Take walks.

But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 has been a somewhat frustrating experience, even though it didn’t (obviously) wipe out my interest in tracking the liblog field (or biblioblogosphere, if you must). The book has sold 17 copies to date. The partial retelling in the September/October C&I has had 630 downloads to date–which is great, since it means some 37 times as many people have seen the work, but not so great, since there’s zero revenue from 630 times zero. I lowered the book prices to a nominal $10 for PDF download–with no shipping or handling–and $20 for the trade paperback, figuring that a few people might at least pick up the PDF to look at the liblog profiles. Total sales since the lowered price, including PDF downloads: Zero.

[Also a little frustrating in its own way: During the period since July 1, 2010, the September/October C&I is only the second most frequently downloaded PDF, just ahead of the August issue, which of course was also seen piecemeal several hundred times as individual HTML articles. The most frequently downloaded PDF, with another 800+ downloads during those 10 weeks? Need I say? The title includes quote marks and it appeared in early 2006… If I just had $0.50 for each download and HTML view…]

C&I isn’t going away, at least not yet. Some things are hanging fire that might get straightened out in the near future. Or not: We shall see. I suspect that by next week I’ll have a little more enthusiasm for putting together some interesting essays…

[No, the blog isn’t going away either. Some day, I might even write substantive posts again.]

Stepping Further Back

Then there’s ALA. Not membership–I’m eligible for a deal that’s really too good to pass up, so I’m likely to stay a member for a good long time. (LITA? No such deal, and that’s going to be a tough check to write.)

Not membership, but conferences. I made a point of getting support for Midwinter and Annual built in to my employment contract at my last two employers–in one case, as the only real raise in switching employers, in another, as the one perk for a part-time contract position. I missed one Annual and no Midwinters from about 1975 (I still have the ALA Centennial mug) through 2010–although, thanks to the shutdown of that part-time gig, I attended Annual this year thanks to the kindness of friends.

Next year and beyond? That’s partly a September decision, since the early-bird registration bundle is only good during September. So far, I haven’t signed up for it. I think about what I do during ALA and Midwinter and it’s getting increasingly difficult to justify the money, particularly if it’s our own money. (Annual was also a little disappointing, since the social event at which I’m most likely to catch up with virtual colleagues didn’t happen this time around–and I have no idea whether it will return in the future.) The locations for 2011 are more tempting than usual, but it’s still a case where some thought is required. I’m not running away from FriendFeed nor dropping out of writing, email, etc….but is the F2F still all that valuable for me? Flying isn’t getting more enjoyable, I like our new home better than any hotel room I’m likely to be staying in, I’ve almost given up on formal conference programs anyway, and the areas I deal with in the field happen more on the web than they do in the exhibit halls or discussion groups.

Stepping back, then moving on. For the writing, I know one will–sooner or later–be followed by the other. For the conferences: Not so clear.

It’s mid-afternoon on Friday. This seems like a good way to shut down for the weekend. Maybe turning 65 turns out to be a bigger deal than I thought, or maybe I just need a little break. We shall see.

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