Pushing and blogging

I’m trying to avoid inside-baseball entries (that is, blogs about blogging–or, worse, blogs about blogs about blogging), but this is a tough one: Steven Cohen commented on my first post, and (as frequently happens at Library Stuff), I got an error when I submitted a comment–and now there’s a “1 comment” signal but I get nothing but empty box when I click on it. So I’ll respond here…and refer you to Perspective: The Dangling Conversation from the March Cites & Insights for lots more comments about the problems with “conversations” in weblogs.

In the credits in that first post, I included a thanks to “all the people who did not follow Steven Cohen’s suggestion that they push me to start a weblog,” noting that I don’t respond well to pushing. Here’s Steven’s comment on this:

Sure, I’ve been telling Walt to start a weblog for a few years and it is possible that I told people to nudge him a bit (although I can’t find any evidence of that – I didn’t look hard though), but I don’t understand why it matters. The irony is that Walt started a blog as a reaction to a negative essay in Library Journal and not a proactive push from me and probably a few fellow bloggers (I couldn’t have been the only one asking Walt to start a blog, although I was probably a bit more vocal about it). And whether he admits it or not, my pushing may have been a small factor in his decision to start a blog.

[He follows this with some very nice comments, which I thank him for, although I’m not sure that a fading library person who really didn’t do much of anything professionally until he was 39 years makes such a great mentor, and I’m certainly no role model!)

Well, here’s the thing, Steve: The last sentence of this post is: “So, help Walt out and Name That Blog (and push him to pursue the possibilities).” I interpreted that parenthetical clause as a suggestion that people push me to actually create the weblog. Maybe I misread it.

In any case, I didn’t intend a dig at Steven Cohen. He’s an advocate for weblogs, RSS, and other stuff–a pretty successful advocate, I’d say, given that his weblog is sponsored, he’s one of the few “A-list library bloggers,” and he’s speaking 16 (sixteen!) times this year, according to his blog. (That’s fifteen more than me, at least to date–and at least six more than I’d be willing to do under any circumstances.) He’s a mover and a shaker; just ask Library Journal. He’s also a nice guy; if he does regard me as a mentor, I’m honored.

The dig, if it was a dig, was at me–or, rather, at character elements that could be called “flaws.” One of them is that I’ve grown stubborn over time. I listen (or I try to), I look at what might work, and I’m reasonably flexible–but my response to continued prodding in one direction is somewhat mulish. Thus, I started doing HTML sections of Cites & Insights only after people had stopped bugging me to do a full version. I started using an aggregator when it didn’t require downloading or installing software and when I could use a single aggregator from home and work without difficulty. And I started a weblog after Cites & Insights left its formative, experimental stages and I concluded that I do have occasional things to say that just don’t fit there (either for time, topic, or approach reasons).

And I really do hope that this is the last blog about blogging that I do for a week or so…

8 Responses to “Pushing and blogging”

  1. Walt? I’m 32. When I graduate school in May, I’ll be a month shy of 33. If I get anything done, anything at all, for the library profession by the time I’m 39, I’ll count myself pretty d—-d lucky.

    I don’t get the impression you’re fading, either, just that the nature and sphere of your influence is changing. How many of us could get a sponsorship deal for a zine?

    Just a wee bit of perspective, I hope, no annoyance intended.

  2. Bwah hah hah, we have caught you in the snare of self-referential blogging! This isn’t such a Bad Thing. Your insights about blogging are particularly helpful because it’s clear you are not guzzling the KoolAid, and because you’re new to blogging.

    I am patient. I am hoping that at some magic tipping point in the future you decide C&I really belongs on a blog. But I won’t push. You like publishing C&I the way you do it, and some people will print out and read 24-page PDFs. Miss Karen already has her print reading assignments and then some, thank you very much, but she appreciates that Walt *likes* publishing C&I the way he does it. Dude, it’s your car.

    I’m cautious about anointing anyone an A-List blogger. Many small blogs make for great reading. They may not be the most widely read blogs, but they are good nonetheless. Pushing someone as the “it blogger” may not be as useful as talking about the blogs you like and why you like them.

    Re sponsorships, I note Liz Lawley just ended her sponsorship arrangement for mamamusings. Her blog is just as good as it was before and during the sponsorship–better, in my opinion, because she isn’t hampered by the sponsorship. The very big blogs (BuzzMachine, EdCone, etc.) don’t have sponsors. I don’t think having a sponsor necessarily hurts, but it’s not an indicator of success and sometimes it can work against your aim. As a measurement of my blog status, I would rather have an occasional positive mention by one of the major non-library blogs (or, hey, as long as I’m dreaming, a book deal from a non-library publisher) than have a vendor approach me about a sponsorship. But whatever tints your parachute…

  3. Walt:

    Commenting on comments is when you know you might be in trouble, as far as I am concerned, but I keep doing it. On a complete tangent, but since you did the self-referential thing, you did promise to tell us what the winners of the “Name Walt’s Blog” contest were–http://www.lisnews.com/~Walt/journal/2860. So????

  4. walt says:

    I’ll respond to all three at once (and on my own blog, commenting on comments is almost a necessity: one way of showing that I’m paying attention!)

    Dorothea: You’re assuming that you haven’t already had some professional impact with CavLec. I wouldn’t make that assumption.

    Karen: That tipping point is extremely unlikely to happen because I really and truly don’t believe C&I makes sense in a blog format, particularly given that the average section runs 2,000 to 3,000 words. I believe in multiplicity, different media for different purposes. C&I serves its purpose well. If it doesn’t serve all potential readers equally well, that’s pretty much unavoidable. (I have started the HTML separates for those only interested in reading one particular story, and who don’t care about my personal blather.) As for “A list” and the like, it’s only a judgment of readership, not quality: I comment on that briefly in a comment on a comment in my LISNews journal, and may expand on that later here or in C&I. Or not.

    Elizabeth: Other than being bemused by the fact that yours is the first comment that triggered the moderation requirement that’s supposed to be present for all “first comments” (and your comments should now go in directly)–why didn’t any of the other 20+ comments trigger this protection?–I would note that I did name the winners of the contest, as you’ll see if you go back to that entry and scroll down to the bottom: A 3/14 addition to the entry. Briefly, I awarded prizes to Tangognat and Daniel for “Something to Say”–but didn’t use that name because there are already blogs with that name. (The prizes have been mailed; each got a book and a DVD.) Nobody (except me) suggested “Walt at Random,” but it plays off one of the suggestions. Although part of me still thinks that Lorcan Dempsey has the right idea, in which case this weblog would be “Walt Crawford’s weblog.”

  5. rochelle says:

    I emailed my suggestions to Walt and thought them purely brilliant. Alas, the sentiment was not shared by the recipient. Regardless of the title, like everyone else, I’m delighted it’s here.

    Analog Came Walt
    A LITA Bit of Walt (a lita bit too specific, I realize)
    Full Mettle Crawford

  6. I don’t think it matters why or when you decided to start a weblog, but we’re glad you did.

  7. Ted Morris says:

    Regarding Karen’s suggestion, and Walt’s counter-opinion, regarding making C&I a blog: Karen, I for one print out the 24-page PDFs, because I don’t have time to read them when I’m in front of my computer doing work things or (not often enough) research things. Rather, I read them in bed, lying down (even with a PDA I think it would still be easier to hold up a stapled sheaf of papers over my head than a plastic box of electronics and batteries). I pick them up and put them down and it may take me a month to get through one, but by then there’s another one coming down the pike. I can’t possibly stay plugged in to all the sources I “need to” to be a top-notch researcher and educator–so I fill in as best I can with the tools and sources I find most valuable. C&I is by no means comprehensive but fills in some holes in my net that need plugging. Reading myself to sleep with them is the best way I’ve found to squeeze in that last bit of catch-up. (Not that they put me to sleep, Walt!)

  8. walt says:

    “C&I is by no means comprehensive but fills in some holes in my net that need plugging. “–That’s a great description for what I’m after, for those who like it. Thanks!

    I’m trying to avoid too many 24-pagers. 16 to 20 is still my ideal, but it somehow doesn’t seem to work out that way. The current issue started at 25, though, and I did peel it down to 22, only losing one important paragraph in the process…