Blake's blog

Here's To The Ineluctable Future

I was surprised to see LISNews has outlived The Juice. Seeing the end of Library Juice got me thinking about the future of LISNews. Though I'm not really sure I fully understand Rory's reason for calling it quits, I would think exhaustion must have been the major contributor. Library Juice must've taken an incredible amount of time and energy. Whatever his real motivations for moving on, I can relate, and I know exactly how he feels. There are many parts of The Juice I'll miss, and though I didn't agree with much of what he had to say, I was always impressed the the quality of what Rory did.

One interesting comment I saw him leave on The Stuff also made me think a bit:

"The format of Library Juice allowed me to mostly avoid certain kinds of discussions that I don't want to have and probably wouldn't be able to avoid if I started a blog."

Rory was a big part of LISNews for years, and if I remember right [and Rory says I don't remember right, so for that I apologize], one of his big problems with LISNews is how I let everyone have a say. I don't subscribe to that theory in any way. However much I may want to start firewalling people that annoy me, I'll just never do it. I'll never avoid conversations I don't want to have by silencing everyone. It's easy to figure out who is a delusional nut job and who is interesting and informative, and I read people based on the reputation they've made for themselves. I don't think it does any of us any good if I silence them. I welcome constructive criticism, and I also welcome people I disagree with into my world. Especially those who are respectful, articulate and interesting. I think I learn and grow by reading well thought out and rational arguments on any side of an issue. I'm not naive enough to think for a second that's all we get here @LISNews, but that's why we have the moderation system. I think LISNews strikes a good balance between openness and editorial control.

LISNews is also more than just a mailing list with a mirror on the web, like Library Juice. LISNews is a community, it's a mailing list, it's a book club, it's a collection of journals, and it's a source for news. It's not just one thing, written by one person trying to advance one agenda. LISNews is open to all, and it will stay that way. If we are a profession that truly believes in "resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas" then I don't believe LISNews should be closed to avoid discussions I don't want to read. I'm not one who swears by the Library Bill of Rights, but I think most of what is printed there is a good idea to follow professionally. LISNews is a forum that allows free expression, and free access to ideas. There is no editor making the decision to cut out things he doesn't agree with. There is no board of directors worried about bringing profits up for the shareholders. We have here tools to share ideas and our lives with others.

So Anywho… my point here, if I had one when I started, had to do with me thinking about what I do with LISNews, and how much I still enjoy it. We'll be going into our 6th year in a month, I've posted almost 10,000 stories, almost 700 comments, and this is my 200th journal post... all that, and I don't feel burned out even a little bit (well, most days). That doesn't mean I always feel this way, but the vast majority of the time I look at LISNews each day with excitement. LISNews is the first thing I look at in the morning, and the last thing I check at night. LISNews is part of my life that I still greatly enjoy and I believe in. I love that I can read stories about libraries from all over the world. I love that I can read bits from The Catholic Worker Digest, neocon delusions, stories about Law & Order, complaints about censorship (pro & con) and a reminder to back up my data all in one place. And here's the best part, and the part why I think collaboration is the key to longevity in most cases: I didn't write any of them. I just provide people with a space to write, and they take it (yet another reason this isn't Blake Carver's LISNews). They entertained me, they taught me, and the enraged me, and they chose to do it here, and that's what makes LISNews so great. If I start feeling tired or burned out, I just take a few days off and LISNews goes on. If I turn old and grumpy, LISNews can go on without me.

I hope LISNews will go on for years to come. I don't care about the environment in which we exist. My inspirations come from LISNews and the community we've built. I welcome new initiatives, both here @LISNews and elsewhere. I still enjoy the little original writing I do here, and elsewhere. Unlike Rory, I think much of what that is being written is interesting and insightful. I think there are many people out there that have many interesting things to share. What can I say, I'm easy to please. I hope the openness at LISNews will help us to grow in a natural way into something different over time. What that something might be I really can't say, but I hope it's something that we can all use and contribute to in new and exciting ways. And lest you think I disagree with Rory on everything, I too think that blogs are here to stay and are the beginning of something important and ineluctable. I hope LISNews is part of that "ineluctable future."

Batten Down The Hatches: Rita Is Coming Right At Our Servers

LISNews, LISHost and the other 100+ Domains we host are all sitting in the path of Hurricane Rita, in the EV1 Datacenters down in Houston, TX. EV1 Says they're prepared for the worst, so I expect you won't even notice bad things are happening. But… just in case you have trouble accessing any of the LISHosted sites in the coming days I thought it important to tell you why. I know you'll all panic if you can't get your LISNews fix!

Blog-U 1.0 Was A Success

I find myself sitting in National Airport once again after another fantastic ITI conference, this time with an offer to upgrade to first class for just $50.00. The flight is less that an hour long, so I think I'll pass, this time. Blog-U was, from all accounts, a success, and likely to be repeated. The class evaluation were without exception positive. I was surprised at how well the group worked together, and how well received the entire program was by the almost 30 participants.

LISNews Numbers For Agust 2005

LISNews Number for August 2005

Total Sessions 353,023.00
Total Pageviews 1,084,480.00
Total Hits 2,572,820.00
Total Bytes Transferred 26.70 GB
Average Sessions Per Day 11,387.84
Average Pageviews Per Day 34,983.23
Average Hits Per Day 82,994.19
Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 881.88 MB
Average Pageviews Per Session 3.07
Average Hits Per Session 7.29
Average Bytes Per Session 79.30 KB
Average Length of Session 00:11:49

Blog-U: Writing Good Blog Content

I think my Blog-U presentation is about done, so I thought I'd post a sneak preview here. There's much more to my presentation, but I can't post the entire thing yet, so here's a very brief outline. I think the full presentation came out pretty darn good.

Start by asking questions about you and your audience.

About the Junk E-mail Filter

More than one week away from LISNews isn't a record for me, but it's darn close. Nothing like a few days away to make me miss you miscreants. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

A Math Word Problem (Just Like The SATs)

A yard is about 70 feet wide.
A shovel is about 8 inches wide.
The cable I watched Adelphia bury in my backyard last year is about 1/4 of an inch wide.

Now, figure out the chances of me putting my shovel over the exact center of that cable (on the first try) and making a clean cut. For extra credit: Correctly describe the feel of a shovel cutting through cable, and for double extra credit: Correctly guess the number of profanities I uttered after cutting the cable. Triple extra credit: Correctly guess all those profanities (hint: Several were never heard before)

LITA, CSS, Must Reads, Too Much?

1. Sadly I've had to pull out of presenting @LITA this year. As the old saying goes, circumstances beyond my control will prevent me from making the long journey to San Jose.

2. The CSS version of Slashcode is finally almost ready. I've been waiting on the CSS release to upgrade LISNews, so hopefully within a month or two we'll be ready to move on up.

3. I completely forgot about my "10 must read library blogs" story until I saw Walt's piece on blog numbers. Now I'm glad I forgot so I can work those numbers into my list. I'll work on that this weekend.

LISNews Numbers For July

Whoops! I completely forgot to post the July stats. Also, because Slashcode cleans out some tables after a few days, some of these numbers are off significantly, but I'll post what I have just in case the lack of stas has been keeping you up at nigh.

Random LISNews Bits Again

I forgot all about these notes I took during the WebJunction talk at CIL in March. This is just a bunch of random thoughts inspired by what they were talking about. I might have touched on some of these already, and some of these will be worked into my talk @LITA this fall. So I thought I'd post them here and see if I could get any feedback.

A couple of neat phrases they used "Nonstop community to learn" and "Blended Librarians Online Community"

An open and diverse librarian community devoted to educating and informing it's members and the entire information science profession. We bring together diverse viewpoints and people that might otherwise never meet and interact. People are free to share their ideas and beliefs in an open forum. You could think of LISNews as an ideas portal, where people devoted to keeping current and sharing news meet to share and educate each other.

LISNews brings together a truly diverse group of people interested in libraries in a uniquely collaborative and creative environment that enables encourages the open exchange of ideas.

Can we do original reporting me? Our original reporting would be a new and fresh voice, the first new voice in decades and something not supported by advertisements.

As a blogger I've learned there is no way to engage people (that is, make people participate), they must engage themselves. The best thing to do is post things that interest you. The best way to encourage participation and engagement is to make the site available

There is no way to force people to participate or even visit the site. Gentle reminders like what Tara does weekly for Research Buzz would certainly help. We should really start doing that. Building site audience only encourages participation with participation comes better content, which brings more people, which raises participation… and so on. To what end? What do I gain if we get a million people visiting LISNews every day? I have no idea.

Its not really up to us as managers of the site to create participation and content. It's up to us to provide the tools, provide the opportunity for participation and allow people to find it themselves. By moderating or controlling the discussions in more than we do we'd probably stifle discussions rather than encouraging them. I've always been very hands off.

So how do we raise the LISNews profile? How do we make LISNews a respectable and integral part of every librarians daily routine? We post stories that matter, we provide good content in an open environment. We report the numbers, everyone can submit and comment, things are very open. We make the site easier to use. We make all the content easily accessible. We encourage friendly relations.

The site is heavily personalizable. While usability isn't our strongest suit, much of what Slashcode does well is personalizable. Very few people use much of what the site can do. It's all just a pain in the ass, who has the time.

We are underutilizing our sections. Each section could have an editor, or 2 or 3 that would be responsible for everything that goes on there. They would be good advocates for the site and would help to raise our profile and standing in the profession. Is thinking of the site as different sections a good thing or something that works against us by fragmenting our audience? Good question.

More integration of the three components they really think of these things as different components and separate areas within the site. Would we make the site as a hole more interesting to more people if they had their own sections? Maybe, librarians do like to specialize.

How do we get more advocates that work to promote the site and make it more high profile to more parts of the profession?

The one advantage we do have is we're not just another new blog, we're the original, one of the first. We were the first to have RSS feeds, open commenting, and multiple authors. We're an established site that has been around for ages. I think what we do is a sustainable model in the blog space.

What about our participation rates? Is it low? Is it important that we have 50% of users logging on any month, or is it better that we have 40,000 unique IP addresses a month, more lurkers than participants? I'd say more the former, because if people participate it's more interesting. A million lurkers don't entertain, but 10 active participants will.

What’s the Center of LISNews and how do people decide to participate? What are our strengths and why do people keep coming back? What's our hook?

A few different monthly things would be good. Enough so that once a week a "something of the month" shows up on the homepage. I'd look forward to that. Another monthly thing would be some kind of monthly summary that happened on each section. Bentley's blog summary on Monday's is my favorite part of the site right now.

We need to start pushing more things out by email to more people, more blogs, more lists and all that jazz. We need better content to push out to people. We have so much stuff, I know a lot of it is overlooked.

Monday Funny

I just got one of those "introduction" letters from someone who just started their own business in the area and they want to do business with MPOW (My Place Of Work, as Karen always says). The person is a technical editor, copy editor, writer, proofreader and designer, or so the letterhead tells me. The new business offers editing, document production, writing and proofreading, something we all I know I could use. Here's part of the letter:

[company name]'s expancsion places us in a position to. . . .

"Welcome Back Potter"

There must be 10,000 Book Six stories in my 500+ Google News Alerts right now, and only one writer was clever enough to come up with "Welcome Back Potter" as a title.

Anywho... I now officially hate traveling by plane. I really don't understand how people like Gary Price can be on the road 50 weeks a year. I would go crazy. And, no, nothing went wrong this trip, it's just not something I enjoy.

Trying to get all caught up this time has been a challenge. LISHost is running me ragged this week, and I really need to finish up with my bathroom remodel project soon.

St. Louis, Anyone?

I'll be trapped in St. Louis next week, Monday - Thursday, with nothing much to do a night. Anyone out there in St. Louis? There must be more to the city than a giant silver arch.

The LISNews Numbers For June

It's July already! Here be the numbers from June, and a few from May because I think I've added some to the page I've been using to pull out database numbers. June was a surprisingly busy this year. Normally things quiet down in June because of ALA and vacations, but that doesn't seem to be the case this year. Urchin was stable this month for a change so the Apache log numbers are as accurate as those numbers can be, which is less than perfect, but better than nothing.

Total Sessions 308,825.00
Total Pageviews 881,203.00
Total Hits 2,232,472.00
Total Bytes Transferred 22.19 GB

Average Sessions Per Day 10,294.17
Average Pageviews Per Day 29,373.43
Average Hits Per Day 74,415.73
Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 757.43 MB

Average Pageviews Per Session 2.85
Average Hits Per Session 7.23
Average Bytes Per Session 75.34 KB
Average Length of Session 00:11:03

-- June --

Busiest Authors:
Blake: 240
birdie: 74
Rochelle: 43
Karl: 17
Amke: 6
John: 4
Ryan: 4
bentley: 4
Daniel: 3
Hermit: 3
Samantha: 3
Bibliofuture: 3
Aaron: 1
Bill Drew: 1

Total Number Of Articles:

Total Number Of Submissions:

Number of Accounts logged in:

Total Number Of Comments:

Total Number Of Commentors:

10 Busiest Commentors:
Anonymous Patron 166
GregS* 113
Daniel 71
birdie 69
Blake 42
Fang-Face 38
mdoneil 37
tomeboy 31
Redcardlibrarian 27
Great Western Dragon 27

10 Busiest Journalors:
nbruce 22
Daniel 21
Blake 17
birdie 10
slashgirl 9
GregS* 8
Bibliofuture 7
mdoneil 6
librarianscott 6
Samantha 5

Total Journal Entries:

Total Journal Comments:

Total Metamoderations:

Total Moderations:

Distinct Annonymous Patrons Comments:

----------- May -----------

Busiest Authors:
Blake: 173
Rochelle: 90
birdie: 43
Amke: 36
Ryan: 5
BrianS: 5
Bibliofuture: 4
Samantha: 4
Daniel: 3
John: 3
Bill Drew: 2
Hermit: 2
rudimyers: 1
Mock Turtle: 1
bentley: 1

Total Number Of Articles:

Total Number Of Submissions:

Number of Accounts logged in:

Total Number Of Comments:

Total Number Of Commentors:

10 Busiest Commentors:
Anonymous Patron 85
mdoneil 58
Fang-Face 54
GregS* 50
birdie 46
Redcardlibrarian 38
nbruce 36
Daniel 26
tomeboy 25
Porch Geese 22

10 Busiest Journalors:
nbruce 19
Daniel 14
slashgirl 12
Bibliofuture 10
mdoneil 9
Blake 8
Redcardlibrarian 6
Fang-Face 6
Samantha 6
AshtabulaGuy 6

Total Journal Entries:

Total Journal Comments:

Total Metamoderations:

Total Moderations:

Blog Icon?

I want to give bentley's "This Week in LibraryBlogland" a topic but I can't settle on a good topic icon.

Anyone want to help me design an icon or suggest ideas? I need a single small image that says "This Week in LibraryBlogland"

Why Do You Paticipate?

Later this year I hope to talk about "collaborative web sites" and how to encourage participation. So I've been thinking on the topic of "how to encourage participation" or maybe "running a successful online community." I think we get a fairly decent amount of participation from a relatively eclectic group of people. Though I always think we'd benefit from more people participation, I think we do a pretty good job, all things considered. Slashcode isn't the easiest thing in the world to use, and I think that's probably one big barrier to entry.

How Did You Find Us?

Referrals from other sites usually make up a rather insignificant portion of LISNews traffic. Normally over 90% of recorded visits start with no referral. Google normally sends the most visitors our way, followed by Yahoo, followed by various aggregators and random other sites from time to time. I was looking at the "Search Terms" Urchin collects, and I can't help but think many people are disappointed when they happen upon LISNews based on what we can guess they were looking for. Here's the top 10 search terms for the year:

1. desiree goodwin
2. harry potter
3. pick up lines
4. loonatics
5. pickup lines
6. harrypotter
7. lisnews
8. harry potter book six
9. desiree goodwin
10.desiree Goodwin

Not too bad, but the top 10 only accounts for about 20% of all 52,000+ terms recorded by Urchin. The long tail is indeed long when it comes to search terms on LISNews. The top 10 search terms for this week looks a bit different than the full year:

1. lisnews
2. harry potter
3. pick up lines
4. greatest novels
5. harry potter book six
6. pickup lines
7. library news
8. lis
9. matrix story
10. arabia sex

Top 10 referrals of this week:
1. (no referral)

Top 10 referrals for the year (so far):
1. (no referral)

A Friendly Reminder: Only You Can Stop Data Loss

Stop whatever it is you're working on right now and back up your important files. Burn them to a CD, drop them on a Zip or floppy disk, upload them to a server, just do something, back those suckers up.

Front Page News From Coast To Coast: The Downing Street Memo

I was suprised to see the Downing Street Memo made the front page of todays Buffalo News, so I took a quick look at A Few Other Cities to see if this was common. I was suprised to see the same thing in many other cities. I only scanned about 20 pages, and found mentions on more than a few.

Doctor Who: a Time Lord's Timeline

For some reason I always forget about Kuro5hin, but everytime I do remember to have a look I find something good. This time it was Doctor Who: a Time Lord's Timeline. What follows is a look over the years at the various incarnations of the Doctor.


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