Archive for the 'Liblogs' Category

Liblog Profiles 17-20

Posted in Liblogs on February 14th, 2011

And here are liblog profiles 17-20.

3 Geeks and a Law Blog

“A law blog addressing the foci of 3 intrepid law geeks, specializing in their respective fields of knowledge management, internet marketing and library sciences, melding together to form the Dynamic Trio..”Group blog. US. Blogger. Began May 2008; lasted 23 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

415

Per Month

18.0

Quintile

2

Quintile

1

2009 2010
Posts

50

92

Quintile

1

1

Words

26,744

44,734

Quintile

1

1

Post length

535

486

Quintile

1

2

Comments

136

282

Quintile

1

1

Conv. Intensity

2.72

3.07

Quintile

1

1

42short

“Sleeps with the fishes.” By “james” Blogger. Began May 2002. Lasted 45 months: last post January 2006. Group 4. No metrics available.

A Canuck Librarian

By Jennifer L. Cyr. Canada. WordPress. Began January 2004. Lasted 77 months (so far, through May 2010). Group 3 (GPR).

Overall Posts

676

Per Month

8.78

Quintile

1

Quintile

2

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

22

25

1

11

Quintile

3

2

5

3

Words

6,143

8,635

345

5,188

Quintile

3

2

5

2

Post length

279

345

345

472

Quintile

3

2

2

2

Comments

19

27

0

21

Quintile

2

2

5

2

Conv. Intensity

0.86

1.08

0

1.91

Quintile

2

2

5

2

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

“All I want: like Buffy, I want a chair. A fireplace. A tea cozy. And to talk about stories. Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea.” By “Liz B” (Elizabeth Burns). US. Blogger. Began April 2005; lasted 62 months (so far, through May 2010). Group 1.

Overall Posts

1,918

Per Month

30.94

Quintile

1

Quintile

1

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

145

56

118

107

Quintile

1

1

1

1

Words

36,290

16,662

42,651

52,738

Quintile

1

1

1

1

Post length

250

298

361

493

Quintile

3

3

2

2

Comments

474

161

294

427

Quintile

1

1

1

1

Conv. Intensity

3.27

2.88

2.49

3.99

Quintile

1

1

1

1

Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 and C&I: An update

Posted in Liblogs on January 4th, 2011

This is the last day of Lulu’s 25%-off discount, one that applies to The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010, disContent: The Complete Collection and my other C&I books. It looks as though three people have taken advantage of the discount–not one of them for the limited-edition hardcover.

I originally planned to publish chapters 2-11 of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 in Cites & Insights, one chapter per issue, with Chapter 2 appearing in December 2010, Chapter 3 in January 2011 and so on through, possibly, September or October 2011. I hoped that I’d see enough parallel book sales to justify doing that and, with luck, to justify doing a five-year study of liblogs. Because these chapters contain graphs and other stuff, the “HTML separates” appear as PDFs with sets of book pages rather than in the usual HTML form.

But maybe not…

Fact is, as you can readily discover by clicking on “Liblog Profiles” as a category (since I pledged to do one post with four liblog profiles for each copy sold), only four copies of the book have been purchased–two downloads and two paperback.

That’s not as bad as disContent: The Complete Collection, which, halfway through the four-month offering, has sold exactly three (count them: 3) copies. I’ve accidentally extended that four-month offering to five months (through the end of March), but that’s as far as it goes. Sad to say, I’m confirming my suspicion about “freemium” offerings and my so-called audience–and it appears to be even worse than I thought.

I appreciate one colleague’s honesty: he doesn’t intend to pay for library literature, no matter who writes it. I’m getting the idea that this is a general opinion, just not usually stated so bluntly.

As to the liblog books, I had honestly hoped and expected that some or all of the library school libraries/collections would acquire these. But, you know, they’re not either from A Major Library Publisher or overpriced special studies from importantly-named research groups, so…

I don’t think it’s that nobody wants to read this stuff. I think it’s that nobody wants to pay for it.

Here’s the track record:

  • Public Library Blogs: Sold 80 copies, of which 28 are in libraries (according to Worldcat), including no more than three institutions with library schools. Meanwhile, the text portion of this has been downloaded more than 2,500 times in C&I (1,254 as an HTML separate plus 1,321 in the issue, through 12/31/10).
  • Academic Library Blogs: Sold 43 copies, of which 21 appear to be in libraries–including no more than nine institutions with library schools, and probably significantly fewer than that. (I’m including two Australian possibilities here.) More than 2,500 downloads of the text in C&I (1,225 as an HTML separate; the same 1,321 in the issue.)
  • The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: Sold 66 copies, of which 13 appear to be in libraries–no more than nine of them library schools. So far, 1,600+ downloads in C&I (as a full issue), but it’s early yet.
  • But Still They Blog: Sold 19 copies, of which three (so far) are in libraries, at most one with a library school. So far, 1,053 C&I downloads–but it’s very early, since that issue came out in September 2010 and these stats only go through 12/31/10.
  • Chapter 2 of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010: So far–and it was only out for seven weeks through the end of the year–127 separate downloads and 425  copies of the issue, for a total of 552. Four books sold.
  • Chapter 3 of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010: This one was out for less than two weeks through the end of the year, so these are almost meaningless numbers: 48 separate downloads, 371 copies of the issue, for a total of 419 copies. Again, four books sold.
  • Going back: My 2006 study of the “great middle” of liblogs has been downloaded some 22,000 times, 13,000 of them as a separate–and the 2005 study has been downloaded more than 23,000 times, 14,000 as a separate.

So there’s a readership, as long as it’s free. Which, with any sort of institutional or corporate sponsorship, would be just fine with me.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have called 66 copies anything close to acceptable–but if I accept that the liblog studies are mostly a hobby, that’s at least enough to pay for software upgrades and the costs of getting the thing into print, even if it’s not much more than $1/hour for time spent.

Nineteen copies? Not so much. Four copies (so far)? I haven’t yet covered the direct cost of buying a proof copy.

Current plans

I’d planned to include Chapter 4–which starts to get into the meaty, interesting facts and figures–in the February issue of C&I. (No, you haven’t missed it: It won’t be out for at least two weeks, maybe three, maybe more.)

And I’d still love to do that…if there’s some evidence of at least modest sales for the book or download. Let’s call “at least modest sales” five copies per chapter, which would yield at least 55 copies of the book as a whole (Chapter 1 is never going to appear in C&I. But if more than 200 copies of the book are sold, I’ll change the PDF price to $0, which would make it freely available.)

So once fifteen copies have been sold, I’ll put Chapter 4 in the next issue of C&I. Twenty copies: Chapter 5. And so on.

This, of course, assumes that C&I itself continues for the long run…

If Chapter 3 never appears? Then I’ll almost certainly come to my senses regarding the five-year study. (I had a neat new idea about a slight extension of that study, one that could only appear online or as PDFs, since it would require multicolor output, but that neat new idea certainly won’t happen if the study doesn’t happen.) If neither library schools nor librarians are willing to provide any support for this stuff, then it’s clear that I really shouldn’t be doing it. Time spent helping out with the Friends store at my local library might be more productive for all concerned…

Sponsorship may, to be sure, change the picture, and firm up the picture for C&I itself. When I know something, so will you.

If not? Well, then let’s not waste any more language on alternative forms of publishing or new models or the role of independent researchers. Without the imprimatur of formal publishers and formal journals, the work is, apparently, effectively worthless. If I want to keep writing (other than blogs), I should find topics that publishers will buy rather than topics where I believe I have something special to offer. And that may be a lesson I should have learned a long time ago.

Liblog Profiles 13-16

Posted in Liblogs on December 28th, 2010

I am delighted to provide liblog profiles 13-16.

101 Tips for School Librarians

UK. Started November 2007, lasted six months—because the task (“101 tips”) was complete. Group 4

Overall Posts

101

Per Month

16.83

Quintile

3

Quintile

1

2008
Posts

35

Quintile

2

Words

5,762

Quintile

3

Post length

165

Quintile

4

Comments

6

Quintile

4

Conv. Intensity

0.17

Quintile

4

2 Kewl Librarians

“A blog with thoughts on training, collection development, products, and any other library related topics that we might think up” Group blog. US. Blogger. Began July 2006, lasted 47 months (so far). Group 2 (GPR).

Overall Posts

81

Per Month

1.72

Quintile

4

Quintile

5

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

11

4

5

3

Quintile

4

5

4

5

Words

4,350

752

2,242

1,100

Quintile

3

5

3

4

Post length

395

188

448

367

Quintile

2

4

2

3

Comments

0

2

3

0

Quintile

5

4

4

5

Conv. Intensity

0

0.50

0.60

0

Quintile

5

3

3

5

21st Century Library Blog

By Steve Matthews. US. WordPress. Began January 2010, lasted five months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

20

Per Month

4.00

Quintile

5

Quintile

3

2010
Posts

13

Quintile

3

Words

7,881

Quintile

2

Post length

606

Quintile

1

Comments

20

Quintile

2

Conv. Intensity

1.54

Quintile

2

2CoolTools

“Learning 2.0 California Style — Technology Trends and Tools for Educators and Librarians.” By Jackie S. US. Blogger. Began January 2007, lasted 41 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

258

Per Month

6.29

Quintile

2

Quintile

2

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

3

26

18

21

Quintile

5

2

2

2

Words

427

2,511

3,621

3,466

Quintile

5

4

3

3

Post length

142

97

201

165

Quintile

5

5

4

4

Comments

2

0

0

0

Quintile

4

5

5

5

Conv. Intensity

0.67

0

0

0

Quintile

3

5

5

5

Liblog profiles 9-12

Posted in Liblogs on December 21st, 2010

Profiles 9-12. Note that rows are omitted when I was unable to calculate metrics.

…With Intent to Commit Horror

Since 6/1/10, renamed “Horror Books with the Undead Rat” with former title as new subtitle. By Greg Fisher. U.S. WordPress. Began July 2007, lasted 35 months (so far). Group 2 (GPR 3).

Overall Posts

475

Per Month

13.57

Quintile

1

Quintile

1

 

2008

2009

2010

Posts

26

60

71

Quintile

2

1

1

025.04: Michael’s blog

“It’s supposed to be online library systems, but my cat and class skills are not sharp.” By Michael. UK. Blogger. Began December 2006, lasted 30 months. Group 4.

Overall Posts

138

Per Month

4.60

Quintile

3

Quintile

3

 

2007

2008

2009

Posts

27

15

4

Quintile

3

3

4

Words

6,019

4,907

1,303

Quintile

3

3

4

Post length

223

327

326

Quintile

3

2

3

Comments

0

0

0

Quintile

5

5

5

Conv. Intensity

0

0

0

Quintile

5

5

5

025.431: The Dewey blog

“Everything you always wanted to know about the Dewey Decimal Classification® system but were afraid to ask …” Group blog. U.S.. SixApart. Began October 2006, lasted 44 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

564

 

Per Month

12.82

Quintile

1

 

Quintile

1

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

26

17

13

15

Quintile

3

3

3

2

Words

6,813

6,399

7,172

7,088

Quintile

3

2

2

2

Post length

262

376

552

473

Quintile

3

2

1

2

Comments

14

8

14

14

Quintile

3

3

2

2

Conv. Intensity

0.54

0.47

1.08

0.93

Quintile

3

4

2

3

100 Scope Notes

“Children’s Literature News & Reviews.” By Travis Jonker. U.S. WordPress. Began November 2007, lasted 31 months (so far). Group 3 (GPR at time, now qualifies for Group 1).

Overall Posts

171

Per Month

5.52

Quintile

3

Quintile

3

 

2008

2009

2010

Posts

73

78

71

Quintile

1

1

1

 

Liblog profiles 5-8

Posted in Liblogs on December 21st, 2010

Another copy purchased, another four profiles, as promised.

@ the library [2]

“Your local library is a twisted place…” By Woeful. U.S. WordPress. Began April 2007, lasted 38 months (so far). Group 2 (only one post in March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

471

 

Per Month

12.39

Quintile

1

 

Quintile

1

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

69

41

20

1

Quintile

1

2

2

4

Words

14,229

7,180

4,900

151

Quintile

1

2

3

4

Post length

206

175

245

151

Quintile

3

4

3

5

Comments

280

632

100

24

Quintile

1

1

1

2

Conv. Intensity

4.06

15.41

5.00

24.00

Quintile

1

1

1

1

igital Serendipities

By Danica Radovanović. Italy. WordPress. Began September 2006, lasted 45 months (so far). Group 2 (only one post in March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

331

 

Per Month

7.36

Quintile

2

 

Quintile

2

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

56

11

10

1

Quintile

1

4

3

5

Words

9,091

2,068

3,098

232

Quintile

2

4

3

5

Post length

162

188

310

232

Quintile

4

4

3

4

Comments

101

16

13

1

Quintile

1

3

2

4

Conv. Intensity

1.80

1.45

1.30

1.00

Quintile

2

2

2

3

f

“a collaborative library … thing” Group blog. U.S. WordPress. Began July 2008, lasted 23 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

74

Per Month

3.22

Quintile

4

Quintile

4

 

2009

2010

Posts

13

6

Quintile

3

4

Comments

21

5

Quintile

2

3

Conv. Intensity

1.62

0.83

Quintile

2

3

©ollectanea

“Collected perspectives on copyright.” Currently by Peter Jaszi. U.S. SixApart. Began January 2007, lasted 41 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

208

 

Per Month

5.07

Quintile

2

 

Quintile

3

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

60

20

1

6

Quintile

1

3

5

4

Words

15,853

10,647

1,099

3,300

Quintile

1

2

4

3

Post length

264

532

1,099

550

Quintile

3

1

1

2

Comments

31

33

1

0

Quintile

2

2

4

5

Conv. Intensity

0.52

1.65

1.00

0

Quintile

3

2

2

5


 

Liblog Profiles 1-4

Posted in Liblogs on December 8th, 2010

As promised, here are profiles for the first four liblogs in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010, where “first” is based on Excel’s sort order with punctuation, special typefaces and initial articles included. For each copy sold, four more profiles will be posted.

One additional and probably useless clue on the mystery liblog (the one and only liblog that is in the first quintile for all three key metrics for all four years): If I post a profile on this blog, I will be happy with total sales of the book.

“Self-plagiarism is style”

“Dave Pattern’s blog” By Dave Pattern. UK. WordPress. Began May 2005, lasted 61 months (so far). Group 3 (because no posts March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

369

Per Month

6.05

Quintile

2

Quintile

2

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

34

18

23

0

Quintile

2

3

2

Words

8,842

3,668

6,357

Quintile

2

3

2

Post length

260

204

284

Quintile

3

4

3

Comments

119

56

89

Quintile

1

1

1

Conv. Intensity

3.5

3.11

3.87

Quintile

1

1

1

:: The Patent Librarian’s Notebook ::

By Michael White. Canada. Blogger. Began November 2005, lasted 55 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

282

Per Month

5.13

Quintile

2

Quintile

3

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

9

20

11

14

Quintile

4

3

4

2

Words

1,141

3,902

1,525

2,093

Quintile

5

3

4

3

Post length

127

195

139

150

Quintile

5

4

5

5

Comments

3

8

19

14

Quintile

4

3

2

2

Conv. Intensity

0.33

0.4

1.73

1.0

Quintile

4

4

2

3

::schwagbag::

“dishing up library and technology related miscellany” By Sherri Vokey. Canada. SixApart/Movable Type. Began November 2004, lasted 33 months. Group 4.

Overall Posts

252

Quintile

2

Per Month

7.64

Quintile

2

2007
Posts

1

Quintile

5

Words

53

Quintile

5

Post length

53

Quintile

5

Comments

0

Quintile

5

Conv. Intensity

0

Quintile

5

@ the library

By Rhoda Gonzalez. US. WordPress. Began August 2006, lasted 36 months. Group 4.

Overall Posts

109

Per Month

3.03

Quintile

3

Quintile

4

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

22

3

3

0

Quintile

3

5

5

Words

3,980

496

694

Quintile

3

5

5

Post length

181

165

231

Quintile

4

4

4

Comments

5

2

0

Quintile

4

4

5

Conv. Intensity

0.23

0.67

0

Quintile

4

3

5


The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010: Now Available

Posted in Liblogs on December 6th, 2010

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010

The most comprehensive study of liblogs (and, I suspect, the most comprehensive study of blogs in any specific field) is now available–and discounted from now through the end of ALA Midwinter 2011.

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 looks at every English-language liblog

[that is, blog by a self-identified library/archives/museum person, or blog about library/archives/museum issues, that isn't an official blog offering an institution's or groups views]

that had a presence on the open web in early summer 2010 and at least one post before June 1, 2010.

That’s 1,304 liblogs in all, from more than two dozen countries.

Even though this book doesn’t include profiles for individual liblogs (unlike The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, now out of print, and But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, still available), it covers so much ground and with so much analysis of the recent history of English-language liblogs that the book is still a fairly thick paperback–241 print pages (including 4 pages of front matter and a 20-page index of blogs).

The book looks at key metrics for March-May 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010: Primarily number of posts, average length per post and average comments per post, as well as changes in those metrics and patterns of metrics, but also total length and total comments.

Additionally, the book includes discussion of the overall lifespan, number of posts, and posts per month for most of the blogs–and other secondary metrics such as the software, country in which the blog was (apparently) written, when blogs began and how current the most recent post was (as of May 31, 2010).

On sale now

The 241-page 6×9″ (trade) paperback, on 60# cream book paper, costs $35.00–or you can buy the PDF download for $22.50.

From now through the end of ALA Midwinter 2011, both versions come with an early-bird 25% discount, for a final price of $26.25 (plus shipping and handling) paperback, $16.88 (no shipping or handling) PDF.

But wait! There’s more…

I didn’t include individual liblog profiles this time around because the book would have been far too thick (at about three profiles per page, that’s another 430+ pages!) and because the profiles are too much work for the apparently limited audience.

But the profiles are also interesting. So here’s an offer:

For each copy sold, I’ll post four individual blog profiles on Walt at Random…doing them in absolute alphabetic order. (I’d probably post four profiles at a time.)

“Absolute alphabetic order” is the sort order Excel provides including initial articles, punctuation and all.

So if the book sells 326 copies, I’ll post all the profiles…sooner or later.


Wondering when the first Cites & Insights for 2011 (volume 11) will appear?

The most I can say at this point is: Almost certainly before ALA Midwinter 2011. Certainly not this week, almost certainly not next week, maybe not in 2010.

Liblog Landscape 2007-2010: Item along the way

Posted in Liblogs, Writing and blogging on December 3rd, 2010

The book is nearing completion–I’ve prepared the index of blogs (the only index, but it is 13 pages) and done a second pass checking the layout, etc.

Next comes the cover, another doublecheck, final PDF.

Probably some time next week: Upload, make it available for sale…and then take the earlier Liblog Landscape off the market.

Just one item along the way

There are a few miscellaneous facts about the book that won’t appear in the book itself or in Chapter 1 (the portion of the book that will never appear in Cites & Insights, even if the other 10 chapters might eventually appear, one at a time, sort of like a serial novel except nonfiction).

This one does appear in the book, although it doesn’t jump out at you. I’m giving you the item without the actual blog that’s involved…

  • As in the earlier books, I use quintiles to show most metrics–that is, the top 20% (by whatever metric is under consideration), the second 20%, and s0 on.
  • There are three key metrics in addition to many other metrics, and four quarter-long testing periods (March 1-May 31, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). The key metrics: Frequency (number of posts), Average post length, Conversational intensity (average comments per post).
  • If blogs were random in where metrics fell, there would be one chance in 125 of a given blog being in the same quintile for all three metrics (this is easy: one over five to the third power), and one chance in 625 of a given blog being in the same quintile for a given metric for all four years (one over five to the fourth power).
  • The odds of a given blog being in the first quintile for all three metrics in all four years would appear to be one in 78,125.
  • But of course blogs aren’t random, particularly in year-to-year characteristics, so the odds are better, but still not particularly high.
  • One–and only one–blog is in the top quintile for all three key metrics for all four years. It’s probably not one that would immediately spring to mind for most of you.
  • The only thing I’ll say here is that it’s not a U.S. blog–which actually narrows things down quite a bit, since 880 of the 1,216 blogs for which I had country of blogger are from the U.S.. You’ll find it in the book, of course.

Liblogs 2007-2010: Something that won’t appear

Posted in Liblogs, Writing and blogging on November 21st, 2010

As I’ve been finishing the draft of Chapter 11 (the final chapter, but Chapter 1 isn’t begun yet and the others all need revision), I’ve thought about one topic that could deserve a special discussion in Chapter 1, but won’t. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s call it “The AutoCompanyBlogger“–for a couple of reasons, neither of them terribly compelling.

In practice, I’m not discussing bloggers this time around, only blogs: Blogger’s names only appear in cases where the blogger and the blog name are identical, e.g. David Lee King. (And this year’s index will only have entries for David Lee King, not King, David Lee–because, again, I’m not discussing bloggers as such.)

TACB, for short, is a special case.

Most libloggers have one blog, or sometimes participate in a shared blog. A fair number have two (or control one and participate in one shared one). Several have three. A couple might even have four or five.

TACB has at least 22 blogs. Six of them are represented in the study. Two more could be, if I’d ever encountered them anywhere during the study. The other 14 are sufficiently removed from library interests that I’d probably never encounter them under normal circumstances.

Five of the blogs are active, sort of–that is, five have at least one post in 2010.

More typical patterns:

  • Four posts over three months.
  • 26 posts over two months.
  • Eight posts over three months.
  • Thirteen posts over three months.
  • Nine posts over two months
  • 27 posts over three months.
  • Seven posts over four months.
  • Three posts over one month.
  • Four posts over three months
  • One post over one month–two of those, actually.
  • No posts whatsoever: A blog that doesn’t even have a “hello world” post!

The unfortunate thing about all this is that the blogger comes up with some fairly good blog titles, which then are essentially unavailable to bloggers who actually have something to say about the topics.

Of the blogs that made it into the study, one is active and visible enough to be a Group 1 (Core) blog, among the 500 liblogs currently most active. Three more make it into Group 3, the blogs that are essentially invisible and/or inactive, but have had at least one post in the past six months. The other two are in Group 4, apparently defunct. Of the two I didn’t pick up but could have, one would be in Group 4, one would be in Group 3.

And maybe that’s more than needs to be said about TACB. You can probably guess what platform all 22 of the blogs are on (if there are others on another platform, I’ve been spared knowledge of them).

Am I suggesting TACB should stop founding so damn many blogs? Not really; that’s TACB’s business, and I already know TACB’s response when criticized about any of his/her/its/their self-publicity or other activities. I found the whole thing amusing, but probably not bookworthy. But hey, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m too lazy/tired to do anything productive…


How many liblogs at any given time?

Posted in Liblogs on October 17th, 2010

There’s a question I’ve seen asked–or, in some cases, given assumed answers–any number of times, and I’ve never seen or had anything like an answer. The question, in one form at least:

How many liblogs are active at any given time?

I think the more interesting form of that question is “…and how has that changed over time?”

Maybe even the next question: “When were the most liblogs active?”

So far, I’ve never been able to come up with anything like an answer–and I’ve always felt that the presumed answer I’ve seen some times, based on my hobby/research, has been misleading. (That answer: “Around 500 at any given time.”)

The status

As of Friday, I’ve finished the drafts for Chapters 2 and 3 of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010, my semi-comprehensive look at English-language liblogs (“semi-” because some have completely disappeared and some were doubtless missed), covering 1,304 liblogs that were still visible on the web in early summer 2010.

Chapter 2 is mostly methodology and background data.

Chapter 3 is sort of the “miscellany” chapter, also called “How, Where and When.” It covers the blogging software used for liblogs, the countries they come from, when they began and how long they’ve lasted (through May 31, 2010). It also covers currency–that is, how many weeks before June 1, 2010 the most recent post (up to May 31) appeared.

I plan to start Chapter 4 this week: The Big Picture, based on metrics that I hadn’t gathered in previous surveys. (That’s if I don’t decide to work on C&I essays instead; most likely, I’ll interleave the two). The metrics, for some but not quite all of the 1,304 blogs: How many posts the blog had from its inception through May 31, 2010–and a derivative figure, the average number of posts per month during the life of the blog.

The minor epiphany

This morning, as I was reading the Sunday paper, I had a thought:

I recorded the starting year and starting month in separate columns, both numbers…and the longevity of the blog in months in a third column. With the right formulas, I could use those three columns to determine whether a blog is active at any given point–where “active” means “had a post in or before this month and in or after this month.”

Actually, I first realized that it was possible to populate a huge array of 0s and 1s, then add up each column in that array to find out how many blogs were active at that point. It was a while later that I figured out the formula to populate that array automatically, making it not only possible but practical.

I also realized that this is another one of those little Excel chores that I probably wouldn’t have attempted, say, 5 or 10 years ago–I would have assumed that Excel would have broken or that it would take hours to do the calculations or that I just wouldn’t have enough memory to handle the whole thing.

See, here’s the thing: The matrix involves 46 columns and 1309 rows, with formulas in 42 of those columns and 1304 of those rows. That’s close to 55,000 formulas–each one different–and an overall matrix involving 60,214 cells. Just to get three or four tables and graphs, or maybe only one table and one graph.

The process

In reality, it wasn’t particularly difficult–I think it took half an hour, maybe a little longer (and that includes figuring out how to transpose a set of rows and columns to make later handling easier). While each of the 54,768 formulas (each involving a double-If) is different, they were mostly auto-generated. That is: I wrote the formula for the first row and column, copied it across the 42 columns, then modified the formula in each column (changing a relative cell to an absolute cell). Then I copied the 42-column row to the other 1,303 rows…and added (and copied) the summations to give me the 42 totals (actually four times that many, as there’s an interesting way to split the blogs).

How long did the calculation take? As usual, it seemed to be done as soon as I finished the copy-and-paste operation–certainly no more than a second. On a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo notebook, not a wonderfully fast CPU. (The massive matrix with formulas seems to occupy about 200 megabytes400 kilobytes but of course I can delete the whole thing now that I have the summary numbers.) NOTE ADDED Monday, October 18: I saved that page as a spreadsheet for possible use next year. The spreadsheet uses about 400 kilobytes–the increase in size for the overall spreadsheet was closer to 200kilobytes, not megabytes!

The results

Ah, well, for that you’ll have to wait a while. Those results will be part of Chapter 4. If all goes as planned, all or part of that chapter may appear in a future C&I–most likely the second issue of 2011 that isn’t a single-essay issue. I’d guess that the book version will appear at the same time or a little earlier.

I wouldn’t have tried this five years ago and maybe not three years ago. I’m glad I did–the results are interesting (I would say “not quite what I expected” but I’m not sure I had an expectation).

Hmm. I wonder how long it’s been that it’s not only plausible but trivial to build and calculate a matrix involving more than 60,000 cells and nearly 55,000 different formulas? On a cheap notebook computer? Now there’s an interesting question for which I have no answer.


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