Archive for December, 2008

Seasoned greetings

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

I don’t often do link posts, but sometimes…

John Scalzi posted “The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time” on December 1, 2004.

He’s linked back to it once in a while, including this year.

I didn’t start reading Whatever (Scalzi’s blog) until recently, so this is my first exposure to this list.

Go read it. And before you object “But wait! Where’s The Star Wars Holiday Special?”– well, read it again, and think about it a little (if you can stop laughing).

Then read the comments, including ones taking it Very Seriously.

As a Modesto boy, seems to me I have two choices for a proper seasonal special:

  1. The Star Wars Holiday Special, which should be nicely aged by this time (since it’s 30 years old), but I’m not sure that would help. (And there’s no way to buy a legitimate copy of this show; let’s just say George L. isn’t likely to release it on DVD any time in this lifetime…)
  2. A Christmas episode of either Buffy or Angel that includes Spike (yes, James Marsters is a Modesto boy)–but, as far as I know, there aren’t any of those. (I could be wrong about that for Buffy, since Marsters was on 92 episodes. I know of one Buffy Christmas episode, but Spike wasn’t in that one.) Oh well, Once More with Feeling might do in a pinch…

Let me make this clear: No, I am not under any circumstances suggesting that anyone send me a bootleg DVD of TSWHS. Dear Gaia, please, no. If you own such a thing, do Lucas’ reputation a favor and smash it into little pieces. Or not. Just don’t send it to me.

Continuing the silliness: Typealyzer tracking

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

The profund-o-meter rates this post a big fat zero.

I thought I’d find a new home for the periodic retests of this blog’s “personality type,” rather than keep adding more and more comments to this post.

When I wrote the post (November 13, 2008), I was surprised to find Typealyzer rating me (or rather “me as in this blog”) as Myers-Briggs ESTP, particularly given that “E” stands for “Extrovert” and the description of this type, “The Doers,” includes “They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through.” I believe the latter is demonstrably false, and I’m pretty clearly an introvert (and scored that way on a real Myers-Briggs test).

A handful of people may or may not be doing their own tests every couple of weeks to see how things change over time. I was still ESTP on November 21–but started out as INTP, a much more plausible finding, on November 10.

I’ll try to remember to update this blog every week or two for a while…and somehow I forgot to do that on December 1. (Unless I posted it somewhere else.) So much for the controlled experiment. Anyway:

December 7, 2008: ISTP – “The Mechanics.” At least I’m back on the Introvert side, but “They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters”? Not so much.

Keeping it going

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Kathleen de la Peña McCook left a nice comment on the last of twelve promotional posts for The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look. She said, in part:

I think maybe all this (blogs) may fade and that your books may document the movement.

I think blogs are already fading in one sense, but I also think it’s unlikely that they’ll fade away any time soon–no more likely than, say, the end of mail lists or email itself. I believe they’ve become reasonably well established as one medium; the uses for that medium are changing as other media emerge–so, for example, Twitter and delicious are probably reducing the number of pure link posts.

But that’s another discussion. It’s the second half of the sentence that generates this post.

Sponsorship and sanity

I did this particular project, by far the largest and most time-consuming blog-related project I’ve done, because I thought it was interesting–and hoped it would generate some interest. It’s too early to tell whether the amount of interest (as expressed in book sales) can in any sense justify continuing the project.

I have not, so far, continued the library blog investigation, which I believe could be useful to the field (probably done differently, certainly done over time)–because I don’t find it quite as interesting and it’s pretty clear that book sales can’t possibly justify continuation.

Sanity enters in here. The time spent on that project would serve the household budget a lot better if I was writing freelance articles, preparing possible courses or workshops, or, for that matter, greeting people at a big-box store or flipping burgers somewhere. (Flipping burgers would pay much better.)

Alternatively, if income isn’t the answer, then there are a few thousand novels I’d like to read, a lot more time I’d like to spend with music, more places to visit (if the budget allows–you can’t check trips out from the library), and other ways to use unpaid time that make more sense.

I suspect sponsorship is the only reasonable answer–I’m sure of that for library blogs, and unless ongoing sales surprise me, I’m fairly sure of it for liblogs. And, frankly, I’m not sure who to approach for sponsorship (I sent out a handful of remote possibilities, which all turned out to be as remote as expected).

We’re not talking big bucks

I’ve recently seen another library-related service asking for sponsorship, and specifically approaching most library schools (which could certainly sponsor my work). The amount that service is looking for, for one year, would sponsor my library blog/liblog investigations (and free PDF publication of the results) for three years.

How big an audience could these investigations serve? I’m not sure, but I can give you a few figures for the last year’s use of Cites & Insights (December 6, 2007 through December 5, 2008):

  • More than 36,000 unique IP addresses visited Cites & Insights in a total of 127,000 sessions.
  • There were more than 79,000 downloads of full issues.
  • There were some 170,000 views of HTML pages–that is, individual articles (excluding the home page and other overhead pages).

A quarter per download and a dime per article view would yield more than enough money (by a long shot)–and, without mentioning figures, that’s a whole lot more than the sponsorship I do have (or than the maximum I’d ever suggest for C&I).

(If you’re wondering, this blog has had 48,754 unique IP addresses over the last year, for a total of 490,000 sessions and just over a million pageviews. A million pageviews? Really? Apparently. At one point, I had Google Adwords–and was earning a grand $3 to $5 a month. Yes, I have more traffic now than I did then; based on that, I might earn some huge amount like $6 to $10 a month: Librarians aren’t much for clicking on ads.)

Holding my breath

I won’t be. I was pleasantly surprised that sales of Cites & Insights 8, 2008 in paperback form are infinitely higher than I expected: It’s sold one copy, and I wasn’t really expecting to sell any.

Know of a possible sponsor? I’d love to hear from them. I discussed that possibility just exactly a month ago. More details are here (noting that C&I is off the table for 2009, at least).

I’d love to “document the movement”–but with no full-time job and a lack of independent wealth, I really can’t justify doing it as a lark. I may be a little crazy, but not quite that crazy.

Prefer an ISBN?

Friday, December 5th, 2008

If you’ve been holding off on buying The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look because you really need to have an ISBN, your time has come.

The link on the title takes you to the CreateSpace page for this book. The CreateSpace version (which should also be available via Amazon in a day or two) has ISBN13 978-1440473845, ISBN10 1440473846.

The price is $35.00. Other than an ISBN, it’s pretty much identical to the Lulu edition–and since CreateSpace now offers cream book paper as an alternative to bright-white paper, it’s on comparable (maybe identical) paper. (The Lulu edition will be $22.50–plus shipping–until January 15, 2009.)

Wrapping it up: Liblog Landscape 12

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

First the pitch:

Buy the book!

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look.

This 285-page 6×9 trade paperback looks at 607 liblogs (nearly all English-language) and, for most of them, how they’ve changed from 2007 to 2008.

It’s the most comprehensive look at liblogs ever done–and the only one I know of that shows how they’re changing from year to year.

From now through January 15, 2009, and only from Lulu, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 is available for $22.50 plus shipping.

On January 16 or thereabouts, that price will go up to $35.00. If and when the book is available on Amazon, it will immediately sell for $35.00.

Why there’s not more personal commentary and evaluation

At least a couple of you have said you were looking forward to my comments about blogs–and, at least on the individual level, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.

The book includes lots of comments about how liblogs work in the aggregate and how they’re changing. The first 11 chapters are very much in my voice and include my opinions.

But I don’t attempt to discuss what bloggers are posting about–that’s just too complicated and too transitory. To be honest, with some of the more prolific blogs, I was just marking-and-counting: Adding up the number of posts, comments and figures, and measuring total word count, but not really reading each post. (Hey, the blogs included more than 22,000 posts during March-May 2007 and more than 19,000 during March-May 2008. I’m a fast reader, but that’s a lot of reading–more than 9.5 million words, or the equivalent of at least 95 good-size books.)

As I was building the preliminary version of Chapter 12–that is, building the profile for each liblog as I measured its metrics, knowing I’d go back and fill in some derivative measures later on–I was adding a brief evaluative comment in some cases: One or two sentences describing the blog’s nature as I saw it during the 2008 period.

I wound up stripping out all of those comments for four reasons:

  1. In a few cases (maybe half a dozen?), I didn’t feel I could include a comment because I really didn’t like the blog (or some aspects of the blog, or disliked the blogger)–and I’d already decided to follow the “grandmother rule” (If I couldn’t say anything nice, I wouldn’t say anything at all.)
  2. In a lot of cases (scores of them), I didn’t find that I had anything useful to say, because the blog was in an area I don’t understand very well or for other reasons.
  3. As I worked my way through, I found my comments becoming less and less useful.
  4. The killer: Those comments would take up at least 100 pages of the book, probably more like 150 pages. Maybe it might make sense to write “Walt’s BIG Book of Liblogs” some day, but this isn’t the day. I was hoping to keep the book under 300 pages (and finally succeeded, partly by using slightly smaller type) and certainly wanted to keep it under 400 pages.

But still…

Part of me wants to do that part–but I think it would be a separate book. Is that book worth doing? Am I the right one to do it? (Would I be able to keep on as even a part-time participant in the library field after doing it?)

Damned if I know. For now, I’m not sure how I’d go about it. The task of categorizing and judging 19,000 posts is far beyond me, I think; the task of providing useful evaluative comments on even 500 blogs–well, possible, but I’m not yet sure how.

We shall see. Meanwhile,

What’s here, the remainder

Here are the remaining liblogs included, with the number of times each appears in the index.

Generalization and PDFs

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I was browsing a blog I rarely visit and ran into an authoritative statement from someone, talking about all the time spent converting “images” like PDFs into text, saying that only text can be reflowed and resized.

And I scratched my head. And opened up Adobe Reader to my latest book. And clicked on View, then Reflow, then changed the size of the window in various ways.

Odd. It sure looked as though it was reflowing the text. If I wanted to resize the text, I could Zoom–and as long as Reflow was checked, it would just keep reflowing.

(OK, the reflow isn’t perfect: It turned a series of bullets into a single paragraph. But that’s not so terrible.)

I also tried the read-aloud feature, which I haven’t really tried before. Much better than I would expect, with a reasonably natural-sounding flow (a female voice). I could listen to that without being bothered by its artificiality.

Some are not all

Sure, some PDFs are just images and won’t reflow worth a damn (nor will the read-aloud features work). But some are not all.

Some PDFs–many PDFs, I’d guess, for contemporary documents as opposed to scanned books and the like–are PDFs in order to preserve desired typography and layout. Such PDFs can, unless the creator says not to allow it, be reflowed, resized, read aloud…

Am I missing something? Was I imagining that Adobe Reader was reflowing the PDF?

Or is this just another example of sloppy generalization, probably coupled with an anti-PDF attitude?

Liblog profiles (Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, 11)

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

What blog has (a) been around six years, (2) is written in English but comes from a European country, (iii) has an ISSN and (d) has as its slogan “Essence, effervescence, obscurity”?

In this case, the answer actually is in the chapter discussed here–Chapter 12, Liblog Profiles, which makes up somewhat more than half of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look.

And, for those who somehow missed it over the past week or so, the book is on sale for an introductory price of $22.50 from now through January 15, 2009, only from Lulu.

What’s here, part 11

Fifty (or so) more liblogs and the number of times each one appears in the index:


Page 123 introduces that blog, including its author, his affiliation, and 19 metrics (there would be 20, but the 20th is blank for reasons that may be obvious). Some of you probably recognize it from the slogan. More would from the unusual animal that forms part of the blog’s name.

Visibility and the larger blogosphere (Liblog Landscape 10)

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Here’s a precision grouping: What do Swiss Army Librarian, Ramblings on Librarianship, Technology, and Academia, Tinfoil + Raccoon and the pod bay door have precisely in common?

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: Introductory Offer

You’ll find the answer and more in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look.

This 285-page 6×9 trade paperback looks at 607 liblogs (nearly all English-language) and, for most of them, how they’ve changed from 2007 to 2008.

From now through January 15, 2009, and only from Lulu, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 is available for $22.50 plus shipping.

On January 16 or thereabouts, that price will go up to $35.00. If and when the book is available on Amazon, it will immediately sell for $35.00.

Chapter 10: Visibility

Many blogging gurus (mostly outside the library arena) would say visibility is the most important thing for a blog–how many readers, how many ad impressions, how many links?

In previous studies, I’ve looked at it as an interesting factor–but also one that’s hard to judge externally. (Internally too: Given the way aggregators work, it’s hard to tell how many readers you actually have.)

This brief chapter discusses how I’ve looked at visibility in the past, what I did this time (and why it was only used as a lower limit for inclusion, not as an actual metric), why it’s getting even more difficult–and what I’ll do in future studies.

Chapter 11: Liblogs and the larger blogosphere

This very brief chapter looks at the 2008 Technorati State of the Blogosphere report and draws some comparisons between the liblog landscape and the larger blogosphere. Portions have already appeared elsewhere.

Who’s here, part 10

Fifty-one more liblogs (if I’m off by one or two, hey, counting while you’re marking to copy is hard):


Page 48.