Archive for the 'Passé' Category

The Way We Blog: Thinking about presentation

Posted in Passé on October 6th, 2010

This is a “I’m thinking about a tricky decision and asking for help” post, which requires context.

Background

I’ve been gathering data for an “as complete as possible” overview of English-language liblogs (blogs by library people or about libraries, that aren’t official blogs) since early summer; several previous posts have referred to that process and asked for help in some cases.

The deadline for the last piece of help I’ve asked for is tomorrow (October 7, 2010). That means I could start the second half of the project–analysis and writeup–any time starting October 8, 2010.

“Other things” are pretty much in place:

  • I’ve submitted the manuscript for Open Access: What You Need to Know Now, and can’t do anything on that until/unless there are proposed changes to deal with.
  • I’ve submitted my first 2011 column for ONLINE Magazine; the next isn’t due until December, and I never get more than a month ahead of deadlines.
  • Most of the content for the November Cites & Insights is written. I need to edit the essays, write a Bibs & Blather (which will include some of the same musings as in this post), gather it together, re-edit, copyfit, and do the final production. Target: Around 10/15-10/17, but really less than half of my writing  time between now and then.

Reality: A Hobby/Obsession, Not a Realistic Revenue Project

None of the blogging books I’ve self-published has sold enough copies or received enough attention to be considered anything but failures. Consider:

  • Public Library Blogs – 80 copies sold.
  • Academic Library Blogs — 45 copies sold.

In these two cases, while I did an easy followup after one year and might do another easy followup, possibly for my remaining print column, after three years, I’ve basically given up on the projects. They just don’t interest me personally enough to keep working on them if nobody much cares about the results, and I continue to have the impression that only cheerleading is welcome in this area.

I think BSTB is the better of the two books. I’d had the suggestion that some people with blogs in one of the books might want to see where they stood, but couldn’t/wouldn’t cough up the humongous $35 (print) or $25 (PDF) I was asking. Maybe I could offer individual profiles for some nominal sum?

Well, I’ve tested that, in a way. I lowered the price of the two books to $10 PDF–no shipping and handling, and since they’re 6×9 pages they should look great on a Kindle DX or iPad or whatever ereader you have with a decent-size screen. I lowered the print price to $20 (which yields the same return to me for each book as $10 PDF, within a few cents).

Total additional sales so far of either book to any bloggers or anybody else: Zero.

And yet…I couldn’t just let this one go, curse a little, and abandon the field. So, at this point, I have to admit that carrying on this “universe of liblogs over time” study is a hobby or obsession; any fiscal rewards (or, hah, speaking engagements) are unlikely and secondary.

Second Reality: People Will Read If It’s Completely Free

Now let’s look at another set of figures:

  • Public Library Blogs: 2,244 (or 1,111) to September 30, 2010–and 2,902 (or 1,010) for a brief update.
  • Academic Library Blogs: 2,186 (or 1,053) to September 30, 2010–and 3,178 (or 1,286) for a brief update.
  • The Liblog Landscape: 1,424 to September 30, 2010.
  • But Still They Blog: 791 through October 5, 2010–and it’s been less than two months so far.

Those are the numbers for the partial versions of the books that appeared in Cites & Insights. (For the first two, the larger number adds HTML pageviews for the article to PDF downloads for the issue; the number in parentheses is just the HTML pageviews. The third and fourth are PDF-only full-issue articles.)

So, let’s see: I’ve reached about 28 times as many readers for public library blogs, 48 times as many for academic library blogs, roughly 22 times as many (so far) for the first liblog study and, even after only seven weeks, 46 times as many readers for But Still They Blog. (Issue and article readership for C&I typically starts with 400-500 full issue downloads and 200-500 [each] article downloads in the first week or two, then continues to grow…indefinitely.)

Third Reality: It Probably Works Better as a Book

The Way We Blog (if that continues to be a title) has a lot more data than the earlier projects. That data needs to be turned into summaries, graphs, and lots of descriptive commentary. The graphs–and particularly any correlation scattergraphs–work better in a 6×9″ book (where I use a 26pica wide body, 4 1/3″ if you don’t get picas) than in one column of a 2-column 8.5×11″ ejournal (where I use a 20pica body or 3 1/3″). I had to omit columns from some tables and make type in other tables uncomfortable small to fit them in three-quarters of the width.

And, let’s face it, even without the individual blog profiles that make up more than half of each previous book, this is going to be fairly long. The concise C&I version of But Still They Blog is an absurdly large 60-page issue; I’d expect the new one to be even larger, given an additional year of data, more than twice as many blogs, and a couple new and interesting metrics.

Possibilities

I see a couple of possibilities. I’d be interested in feedback or in possibilities I haven’t thought of (and don’t bother with “scrap it now, nobody cares”–if I was that sensible I would have scrapped it before I began).

  • The Insane Approach: Do it the same way I’ve done it before, as a 6×9 book priced reasonably, with some excerpts published in C&I–and, maybe, publishing a truncated version in C&I if when the book doesn’t do very well. (Why insane? Surely know the definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”)
  • The Populist Approach: Do the project as a series of C&I articles (probably PDF-only, given the graphs) over as many issues as it requires. Maybe try to put together a summary that could be sold as an article in one of the “big trade journals” (LJ, AL, CIL) for a three-figure sum. Lots of readership, either very little or no revenue (barring sponsorship, which is still up in the air).
  • A Blended Approach? Do the project as a series of C&I articles that become a book, with the book planned as a limited edition. In that case, the “PDF versions” of individual articles might actually be 6×9 pages for easier reading on ereaders and better graph reproductions.
  • What else?

Either the second or third approach probably means using 10-20 pages of each issue over 3-5 months for this particular project. That might be good; it might not. (The future of C&I past December 2010 is sufficiently cloudy that it’s hard to clarify that more.)

Reactions? Comments? Anybody out there ready to provide overall sponsorship for this project? Anybody out there who forgot to buy the absurdly cheap copy of one of the two current books? (There’s still time–and note that none of these alternatives includes individual blog profiles.)

To Make Things More Complicated

Let’s throw in three other factors, things I’m certainly thinking about:

  1. If I continue the study in 2011, it would represent a half-decade investigation, which has some interesting possibilities. Might it make sense to hold my current title for that five-year study and treat the four-year nearly-universal study as a halfway point of sorts?
  2. There’s another interesting five-year anniversary coming up in early 2011–five years after the publication of by far the most widely-read C&I ever. I’m thinking about a major update and a possible five-year book edition; that may turn out to be a really stupid idea.
  3. I have a collection of columns that most of you haven’t read, the “disContent” columns from EContent Magazine, all of them now updated to match the published versions and with Update epilogues for each column. The whole collection includes a number of columns that I’d just as soon forget, cases that make it clear that I’m no better as a prophet than anyone else in the field–but it might be interesting to include all the columns in a strictly limited (and possibly hardback) “signed edition” book. The portion of the columns that I regard as still timely and still things I’m happy to have out there is going to find use somehow–possibly republished in future C&Is (if it keeps going long enough–there are either 37 columns and 43,000 words or 47 columns and 56,000 words in that category) or as a much smaller book.

I suppose I’d welcome comments on those factors as well.

Meanwhile, it’s time to edit three essays and write a fourth one…

Quick preliminary post-ALA update

Posted in Passé on June 29th, 2010

Since my online presence is going to be erratic [that is, more erratic than usual] for a little while, and I may not get around to proper posts for a bit, I thought I’d do a quick summary:

  • Making the Case: While it’s premature to say anything definitive, there’s some good news here. I believe that some level of sponsorship for Cites & Insights and (maybe) Walt at Random may be in the works. (I think it’s a little more positive than that, but it’s also not final yet. Separately, a book proposal–a “real book” through a first-rate library publisher–has apparently been accepted. (No contract yet; soon.)
  • That leaves the possibility of a new home for some of the content formerly in the Library Leadership Network and possibly ongoing development of content and conversations; I’d love to discuss this possibility. It also leaves the possibility of some sponsorship or other arrangements for some research that I’d love to do…
  • As for ALA itself: Thanks once again to the Library Society of the World. It was a good conference–a couple of highly informative programs, one good program that I was part of (hey, there were two other speakers, so I’m certain it was a good program), a couple of fine social events, unfortunately one great social event not held this time…and as always exhibits and casual conversations. (Exhibits were interesting: Very busy at book publishers, reasonably busy at service providers/traditional library vendors, seemingly very “unbusy” at library automation vendors, or at least at some of them. Dunno what, if anything, this means.) One interesting note from one particular session : I finally encountered a panelist being Always On Message in the Proper PR Style: The moderator was engaging the panelists with some tough questions–and this person, uniquely among the panel, simply ignored whatever question was asked and proceeded to give another pitch. Amazing. Effective? Maybe not so much.
  • But: When I set up the VCR to tape Good Guys last night because there was no way I could stay up until 10 p.m. (after, admittedly, getting up at 3 a.m.–really midnight PDT–to start the journey back home), when I realize that I’m not really back to full energy now, and when I think about how long it’s been since I did any writing and how long it will be until I get back to “regular” writing (partly due to issues that need to be settled having to do with being almost 65, sigh, but partly due to “ALA hangover” of various sorts)…well, as much as I find ALA worthwhile, I’m also starting to balance that out against the sheer body strain of going to East Coast conferences and the general week-long disruption a “three-day” visit (call it 3:30 p.m Thursday to 3:00 p.m. Monday, plus time for packing, organizing material, etc.) entails. I won’t say I’m getting too old for this, but…

So that’s a quick summary. More later, maybe…or maybe not. (Oh, I’ll be back to regular irregular blogging; just might not revisit these particular situations.) Meanwhile, there are Part D choices to download and investigate, Part A&B choices to actually make and activate, some other financial issues to deal with, some changes to make in one existing piece of writing…

And a day that’s cooled down just enough from yesterday that a good walk would be a good idea.

Making the Case 2.5

Posted in Passé on June 18th, 2010

Fair warning: There may be one or two more Making the Case posts. There may not be.

Meanwhile…

Obviously, Making the Case 1: Sponsoring C&I (and Walt at Random?) and Making the Case 2: Leadership? are both about “keeping the semi- in semi-retired”–finding revenue sources to encourage me to keep doing work that I believe I’m particularly good at and that I believe is valuable to the library field.

But I find myself considering the two posts together, which raises a couple of minor points along the way:

  • If it’s one or the other, I’d choose Case 1. That’s the one I’ll be most reluctant to give up.
  • It’s possible that the two could work together under the right circumstances, and I’d certainly be delighted to consider that possibility.

With regard to Case 2, a couple of people have suggested places that the existing articles–or at least the ones I feel primarily responsible for–could be archived in lieu of any ongoing development.

For now, I’m less interested in considering those possibilities. Finding an archive is easy–heck, since the pages I have stored are all HTML pages, I could set them all up within Walt at Random (or figure out how to spin off another blog using WP3 and turn that blog into a leadership archive). The harder part, but also the part that would continue to add value, is to maintain ongoing content streams.

Anyway, it’s the weekend–time to relax, read, maybe work a little on an ongoing essay (one where I scrap a category of material in the process), do chores, and make my ALA speech more presentable. And, of course, check blogs, email and Friendfeed from time to time…

Getting to ALA, Keeping a hand in–or not

Posted in Passé on March 15th, 2010

My previous post and some accompanying email have resulted in a fair number of messages, mostly direct, a few indirect, for which I’m grateful.

One fairly immediate issue has to do with whether I’ll be at ALA in Washington. This concerns budget, but also a promised speech during the conference (which would, apparently, be my 2010 speech–I seem to be back to one per year). That relates, somewhat indirectly, to a longer-term question having to do with the status of Cites & Insights (and, I suppose, this blog).

Namely…the question of whether my work is meaningful (and appreciated) enough to continue, or whether I should abandon it and spend time entirely on other things, maybe more local. Part of going to ALA or other conferences is keeping in touch; the question is whether that’s worthwhile.

A dear friend asked whether I really thought my work was appreciated. I responded, well, yes, I seem to have pretty good readership and a few people tell me so now and then. (Heck, more than 45,000 pageviews and downloads for one notorious issue so far…not bad for a nonentity in the field.)

Then this dear friend nudged me a little bit: “So, are they buying your books or donating to help keep Cites & Insights going? Does so-called appreciation really mean anything?”

Um.

Well, four people so far have donated to keep C&I going.

As to book sales to individuals…perhaps the less said the better. (I don’t really know who does, or rather doesn’t, buy the books. If you exclude library-held copies as reported in Worldcat.org, that leaves an even dozen sales of But Still They Blog, 50 for The Liblog Landscape, 28 for Academic Library Blogs, 52 for Public Library Blogs, and 214 for Balanced Libraries…and, well, no more than seven for the various paperback annuals of C&I. I think all those numbers are too high–I’d guess other library purchases not [yet] accounted for in Worldcat.org play a significant role.)

So far, I don’t really have a convincing answer for my dear friend. Or one that convinces me that “keeping a hand in” justifies the cost of ALA. The upsurge in donations and sales since that last post amounts to zero, but these are still early days…and, yes, I know, you all have your own financial issues.

The dear friend is suggesting that maybe it’s time for me to wholly retire from the library field. Is the dear friend right?

Followup…: I’ve been informed, just a few minutes ago, of clear evidence that the dear friend is wrong, and I am grateful for that evidence. It looks much more likely that I will be going to ALA Annual, at least this year…and keeping on with C&I while we see what future possibilities arise. Oh, and may I just say “LSW FTW”?


On an only slightly related note, my apologies to a few people whose comments, on posts that were mirrored from another blog, have been deleted along with those mirrored posts. It no longer makes sense to have the mirrored posts in this blog; the comments make no sense without the attached posts.

Maybe an example would help?

Posted in Passé on October 2nd, 2008

For some of my more visually-oriented readers (and yes, this book will have graphs when appropriate), an actual example of what’s at stake might help. I’m not going to embed the table—that brings along wayyyyy too much HTML—but let’s see whether Word’s blog-to-WordPress will help.

A complete table (more or less)

Metrics

2007

2008

Q

Change

Q

Posts

26

17

3

-35%

3

Total length

6,813

6,399

3

-6%

2

Post length

262

376

2

+44%

1

Comments

14

8

4

-42%

3

Comments per post

0.5

0.5

4

-13%

3

Figures

2

1

5

-50%

4

Figures per post

0.1

0.1

5

-24%

4

A trimmed table (more or less)

Metrics

2007

2008

Q

Change

Q

Posts

26

17

3

-35%

3

Post length

262

376

2

+44%

1

Comments per post

0.5

0.5

4

-13%

3

Figures per post

0.1

0.1

5

-24%

4

In the book, of course, the tables are a little neater–each row is a single line high.

So: is the first substantially more useful than the second? (If you’re wondering: “Q” represents quintiles, explained in the book—and yes, these are real numbers for a real blog.)

Comments either here or on the original post. Thanks!

Liblog landscape: Opinions requested

Posted in Passé on October 2nd, 2008

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.

New libr* blogs? A one-week limited-time request

Posted in Books and publishing, Passé on September 4th, 2008

NOTE: If this post is too long, please read this 169-word version.


I’m finishing up Phase 1 of The Liblog Landscape, 2007-2008: A Lateral View (possibly not the final title). Phase 1 has two parts: Identifying liblogs that should be part of the study/survey, and doing the blog-level metrics for those blogs.

Right now, the list consists of 587 blogs. You can see the list here (yes, it’s in alphabetical order, leaving out initial articles and symbols), or click on the last of the “Pages” in the right column (which gets you to the same list).

The Request and Deadline

If you know of a blog or blogs that meet the criteria below and aren’t currently on the list, let me know–either by commenting here or by sending me email at waltcrawford, domain gmail.com. (Note: If you comment and include more than a couple of blog names and links, it’s possible your comment will be trapped as spam. That’s OK: I check spam before deleting it.) Please include the URL, although if you only have the blog’s name, chances are I can locate it.

Deadline: Friday, September 12, 2008.

On Saturday, September 13, the first thing I’ll do online is turn comments off for this post and delete the page with the current list (or at least hide it).

Then I’ll take any candidates received, double-check their qualifications, and add them to the spreadsheet. Starting September 14, I’ll proceed with Phase 2–overall metrics and analysis.

Criteria

A new blog must meet all of the following criteria to be included in this study:

  • In English (or predominantly in English).
  • Somehow related to libraries or librarianship
  • Not a “library blog”–not an official blog of a library.
  • Started prior to January 2008: There must be at least one post from 2007 or before.
  • Active in March-May 2008: There must be at least one post dated March 2008, April 2008, or May 2008.
  • Open for reading: I must be able to reach the blog without passwords or special procedures.
  • At least vaguely visible–and this one’s the toughest to define. See below:

Visibility: I don’t want to include “close friends & family” liblogs on the assumption that such bloggers probably don’t want larger audiences–that they’d prefer to stay “under the radar.” Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to measure base visibility–particularly now that pop.urio.us seems to consistently return “0″ for Bloglines subscription count. (The measure I had been using was that my logarithmic “visibility” measure had to be at least 1.0–which meant, in practice, that the sum of Bloglines subscriptions and Technorati “authority” had to be at least 9.)

So for now, I’m going to use external visibility–the extent to which blogs are mentioned in other blogs–again with a very low cutoff. To wit, the Technorati authority needs to be seven or higher, or, for blogs that haven’t been “claimed” for Technorati, there must be at least seven different blogs in Technorati’s reaction results.

If you know of a liblog that meets all those criteria and isn’t already on the list, let me know!

Broadly representative, not universal

I know the study isn’t going to include “every visible English-language liblog meeting these criteria.” That’s just not plausible, and I won’t ever make the claim that it does.

I will claim that the list is already broadly representative, and I suspect it represents the overwhelming majority of what’s out there (with these criteria). I’ve already gone through the LISWiki blog list (twice), the Library Zen source list, Meredith Farkas’ wonderful “favorite blogs” results, and some other sources. I’ve done some second-level retrieval, going through blogrolls in blogs already on the list–but after going through 240 and finding only 14 usable new blogs (and none at all in the last 70 I checked), I can’t see taking the time to go through the other 340+. So I’ll certainly miss a few. Thus, this request.

What will and won’t be said about blogs in the survey

Note that I am not offering anyone the chance to “opt out” of this survey–and I think the following should allay any fears you might have.

The heart of the book will be overall metrics and analysis, and particularly lateral changes and any useful correlations I can find in those changes. I’ll also probably do some metrics and analysis for subsets of the blogs–e.g., by affiliation of blogger (e.g., academic, public, school, law…). I’ll almost certainly do some three-year analysis for the 220+ blogs that were in the 2006 survey, since I can track some (not all) of the objective metrics for the same quarter of 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Yes, each blog will have its own section (and those chapters might make up more than half the pages in the book), but the text on each blog will be entirely objective and will not include visibility in any way, shape or form. (I may do some visibility correlation and analysis for the first 573 blogs in the survey, but not at a blog-by-blog level.)

Included:

  • Name of blog (typically as expressed in web page title)
  • First portion of blog tagline/motto, unless it’s a quotation from someone else
  • Author (if evident) or “group blog” as appropriate, if not already in blog name or tagline
  • Affiliation of blogger (if evident) – type of library or, in a few cases, focus of library (law, medical, science)
  • Starting date for the blog, based on internal evidence–and once in a while noting name changes.
  • The three most frequently-used categories or tags or labels, in descending order, other than the equivalent of “general” or “uncategorized,” if it’s easy for me to figure that out.
  • A metrics table for 2007, 2008, and changes from one year to the next, for those blogs with any posts in March-May 2008. Metrics include number of posts during the quarter, total length of posts, length per post, total comments, comments per post, total figures, figures per post. Quite a few blogs will be missing some lines, either because they don’t allow comments (or there weren’t any) or they don’t use figures or, sigh, because the nature of the blog doesn’t allow me to calculate total length of posts without way too much effort. Metrics will include quintiles for 2008 and year-to-year changes, as appropriate.
  • A metrics paragraph, offering (as appropriate) a textual version of some of the quntiles and a textual version of the posting frequency and changes, based on a “per week” or “per day” measure. And, for blogs with no 2008 posts, either a note on the final post or the March-May 2007 figures, or both.

Not included (noting that most of these were actually in the draft chapters as I was doing metrics, but are all gone now for what I regard as good reasons, length certainly being one of them):

  • Visibility measures of any sort. Period. An earlier chapter will explain why, in some detail.
  • URL for the blog. I’ll probably mount a spreadsheet or web page with the names and URLs of all blogs in the survey–but in a print book or PDF, that’s mostly useless info, and blog URLs change.
  • Software and typography. I’ll have some summary notes on use of the major programs and typographic choice, but this is both changeable and not significant at a blog-by-blog level. (I reluctantly removed the notes on the handful of blogs that use color combinations that challenge the reader. With feeds, they don’t much matter anyway, and they’re apparently oh so hip. I won’t even have summary notes there.)
  • Descriptive or judgmental notes. At least not in the book. My snarkiness was turned off while preparing this in any case–I’d already adopted the grandmother rule (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”), but found that I was “not saying anything” for quite a few blogs that I considerably admire, because there wasn’t anything concise and useful to say. So I ripped them all out.
  • Portions of posts: I had only included a few of those anyway–maybe 20 particularly intriguing items in the first 200 blogs–before I realized it just wasn’t practical. They’re all gone.

Summing up

Got blogs? Let me know–if they meet the criteria above.

Deadline: Friday, September 12, 2008.

Random thoughts in between

Posted in Passé on October 9th, 2007

It’s really past time for me to do some “regular” posts–posts that have nothing to do with job searches and new books. I’ve got a list of candidates; maybe I’ll get to them as time goes on. Meanwhile, here’s a few random thoughts that don’t deserve individual posts. One bit of context: This is the second week of a two-week period of deliberate unemployment, intended to clear my head and refresh my energies so that I can do a great job for PALINET. So far, I think it’s working.

  • If you’re waiting to hear more about my departure from OCLC RLG Service Center, don’t hold your breath. I never planned to write memoirs (and have now discarded most of the papers that could go toward memoirs), for the perfectly sound reason that I’m not in the pantheon of celebrated people. If I ever do write memoirish things that are more than casual posts, they’ll almost entirely concern my non-work library life. I had 39 years in the library automation game, most of them good years. That life is over. I’m focused on the future.
  • I’ve now realized just how odd it was to state publicly that I was leaving a position not because “it was a bad fit” or “to explore other opportunities” or whatever, but because the position was being terminated. That’s almost as bad as admitting that I stopped writing “The Crawford Files” in American Libraries not because “three years was long enough” or “it was time to explore other kinds of writing” or “I was running out of appropriate topics” (which is, indeed, the actual reason I stopped writing “PC Monitor” for ONLINE at the end of 2006), but because the column was dropped by the publication. Oops. I did that too, didn’t I? Clearly, I was raised badly, never learning that “honesty is the best policy” has a big escape clause “…except when it could make you look bad.”
  • Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that when somebody writes a post noting various problems that they’re having–problems that legitimately deserve some sympathy or empathy–and says they don’t want a pity party…well, most of the time they do sort of want a little tiny pity party, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • When someone says “Nobody ever said…” with regard to some statement currently viewed as extreme, what they usually mean is either “Nobody ever used that precise set of words, although some people definitely wrote things that reasonable people would interpret that way” or “You shouldn’t actually look at the history–nobody should be held accountable for what they said two years ago.”
  • There’s a big difference between not picking up on every tool that comes along and being unwilling to use new tools when they make sense. To my mind, for many people (myself included) the former is a way to maintain some kind of balance–in fact, we do not all need to know X intimately, whatever X happens to be. (I don’t need to know how to modify a Second Life avatar. Neither do most other librarians.) But being unwilling to adopt a tool that makes sense for a real-world application you have because you’ve never used it before: That’s a sign of rigidity and impending retirement that I hope never to suffer from.
  • What? You want a real-world example? I never created a wiki–because I had no problem for which a wiki seemed to be the best solution. My new job will make heavy use of a wiki–actually, the wiki is the fundamental medium. I knew that before I applied for the job, and it appears to be the right tool for the job. So I’ll become a whole lot more familiar with the intricacies of one kind of wiki software–because it’s the right tool for the job.

That’s six little items, more than enough for now. I do plan to do more substantive posts. There’s no question that PALINET knows about this blog and about Cites & Insights–after all, the press release on my hiring mentions both of them. There’s no question that PALINET assumes I’ll continue blogging and publishing C&I, does not intend to censor or guide the content of either one, and assumes I won’t violate internal confidences or otherwise violate unstated blogging guidelines.

I would say blogging might be irregular as I dive headlong into the new situation come next week–but when has blogging at this here blog ever been regular?

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering: Yes, I will be at Midwinter 2008. Annual, too. Always barring various disasters, to be sure.

The job: Director & Managing Editor, PALINET Leadership Network

Posted in Passé on October 4th, 2007

Here’s the press release:

Walt Crawford Named Director & Managing Editor of PALINET Leadership Network

Philadelphia, PA, October 2, 2007 — PALINET is pleased to announce the appointment of Walt Crawford as Director and Managing Editor for the PALINET Leadership Network. Crawford is an internationally recognized writer and speaker on libraries, technology, policy, and media, and the creator, writer and publisher of Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, an ejournal on the intersections of libraries, policy, technology, and media published monthly since 2001. He also maintains a blog on these and other issues, Walt at Random. He was recently listed as one of the 31 most frequently-cited authors in library literature 1994-2004 (the only American writer on that list outside academic libraries.) Cathy Wilt, PALINET’s Executive Director, comments: “We are thrilled to have Walt direct the development of this library leadership community of practice. The PALINET Leadership Network and PALINET members will certainly benefit from his substantial experience, not to mention his editorial wit and wisdom.”

About the PALINET Leadership Network

Currently in beta release, the PALINET Leadership Network is an innovative online member service for library leaders designed to create a community of practice by sharing informative articles, forums on current issues, and collaborative discussions on cutting-edge topics. Designed as a wiki platform, the PALINET Leadership Network provides the latest innovations and most current leadership information in the library arena and beyond. It is an ideal vehicle for staying current with literature, blogs, and other leadership conversations, as well as a critical tool for mentoring staff.

About PALINET

PALINET, a member-owned and governed regional library network, was founded in 1936 and is one of the largest U.S. networks, serving 600+ members throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. PALINET provides innovative training opportunities through its classroom and online distance education programs and live events and discounts on hundreds of library services from more than 80 business partners through its group purchasing program. For the latest information on PALINET, visit www.palinet.org.

New position: Removing the uncertainty

Posted in Passé on October 3rd, 2007

Apparently my previous posts regarding “what I’ll be doing next” weren’t quite clear enough about the level of uncertainty. So, let me be as clear as possible:

I’ve signed the contract. I will be taking on an interesting, challenging, worthwhile responsibility starting October 15. I’ve made the near-term travel arrangements involved in that responsibility. I even picked up the discounted ALA Midwinter/Annual registration using the name of the agency on my badge copy.

What I haven’t done yet: Posted a formal announcement of exactly what the position is. I want to coordinate that announcement with a formal announcement from the agency. These things take a little time.

Will I be adding other new things? Possibly: This isn’t a full-time job (technically, it’s not a job at all, as I won’t be an employee as such.) But this will be my core position–the one that gets the most attention.

Sponsorship for Cites & Insights is also clear at least through 2008: YBP will continue to sponsor C&I.

I’ll post more when there’s more to post. That should certainly be within the next two weeks.
In the meantime, I would say that posting here might be even lighter than usual, given that I’m sort-of taking two weeks off (as described previously)–but I won’t say that, for two good reasons:

  • I’ve always said that bloggers shouldn’t feel obliged to tell us why they’re not blogging for a period, unless it suits them to do so. Life trumps blogging: always has, always will.
  • Blogging frequency here has always been erratic and unpredictable. My original “target” was two posts a week; based on that target, I’m covered through early 2011. I know there will be at least one more post this week (I’m watching the final movie on Disc 3 of the Hollywood Legends set, and you know what that means), and I could suddenly be inspired or irritated to put out several other posts.

Heck, I might even do a post about the freshet of posts from people who find themselves with a truly annoying version of “blogger’s block”: Where instead of simply not blogging for a while (no harm, no foul), people are sitting at the keyboard for significant periods of time and still not coming up with posts. Now if I had something useful to say about that…


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