Blake's blog

Why didn't you post my story?

This is hard to answer in even one sentence, but the short answer is: "Because."

If we're lucky we get maybe a dozen submissions in a day, though most days it's more like half that. When we have time we look at what's in the submissions queue and post what we find interesting. Often there are stories in the queue that are interesting, but are not easily formatted, so they get either deleted or passed over. Something to keep in mind, the nicer you can format your submissions, the more likely they are to be posted. It's not that we're lazy, it's that we're doing this in our spare time, and if you can make it easier on us, we are appreciative. What's the old librarian saying? "Save the time of the reader?"

I'd like to be able to tell you what we're looking for, but really I can only speak for myself. I'm looking for interesting and relevant stories that somehow reflect what's going on in our profession. I'm looking for neat web sites, funny stories, helpful advice and things that can be useful to others.

I can tell you what I'm going to delete more easily than I can tell you what I'm going to post. Most of the political stuff gets deleted. Most of the nasty attack pieces. Most things that are just announcements from a company I've never heard of trying to sell something unoriginal. The original Slashdot FAQ lists some other good reasons:

• Badly worded subjects
• Broken or missing URLs
• Confusing or hysterical sounding write up
• It might be an old story
• It might just be a busy day and we've already posted enough stories
• Someone already submitted your story
• Your story just might not be interesting

This last one requires a little explanation: if you submit a story, and we don't select it because we think it's not particularly interesting, we're not making a judgment about you as a human being. Deciding the interest level of a story is a very subjective thing, and we have to take into account not only the intrinsic interest of the story itself, but what else is happening that day. On a day when lots of things are happening, we reject some very good stories. But on a day when nothing interesting is happening, we may post something not really as cool. The bottom line is that we have to select stories with an eye towards whatever is going to make LISNews be what it is for that particular day.

I can also tell you why I did NOT delete you submission and herein lies the reason I am writing this today. I did not delete your submission because I am a conservative. I did not delete your submission because I am a liberal. This week I was told I have become far too conservative because I deleted one submission, and someone else said I was a typical liberal librarian because I didn't post another. Had I posted these 2 pieces I would've been attacked for the same reason, but by different people. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. But I am slowly getting used to being called a liberal by conservatives and a conservative by liberals. Once someone even told me I make them sick. This has been a bad week for complaints. For whatever reason I've gotten 5 emails this week complaining about deleted submissions. This is actually rather rare, and I hope not the start of a new trend. Defending what we do takes all the fun out of running LISNews.

I also didn't delete your submission because I don't like you, or because I disagree with you, or because you disagree with me. Actually, it may not have been me that deleted it in the first place. All 15(ish) authors have the power to delete things form the queue. I can't speak for them, maybe someone did delete your submission because they don't like you, I just know I wouldn't do that.

I choose the stories that I think will be interesting, generate some discussion, be helpful, be entertaining, or just because I liked it, and I think others should read it as well. Some of what I post I know won't be very widely read, but I think it should still be there because it may open some eyes to a new topic.

The best thing about LISNews is I never know what's coming next. Like the original Slashdot FAQ said, the homepage is like an omelet. Over the past 5 years I'd like to think I've figured out what makes the LISNewselte taste best for the largest number of people. My goal is to make an omelet that tastes good to me, and if everyone else likes it, then that's great too. Some days it's definitely better than others, but overall we think it's a tasty little treat and we hope you enjoy eating as much as we enjoy cooking it.

A New Library Association?

The American Librar* Association?

For whatever reason LISNews seems to attract a rather large number of people ready to complain about the ALA's every move. The complaint that I've always found interesting goes something like "it's the American Library Association, and not the Librarian Association." I don't know if there is really a difference there, but if words matter, especially the words an association use to define itself, then there is a big difference between a "library association" and a "librarian association."

I just discovered the ALC (Note to anyone at the ALC: Your marketing stinks, how is it possible that I've never heard of you?) and as Rochelle pointed out, they're not entirely what I had in mind either, though I think they might be closer. I guess I'm just looking for more focus. A focus more on librarians, and our patrons and less on dumb issues that only indirectly effect librar* (That's librarians and libraries)

We [Librarians] make the difference, we build the library, we do better than Google and we are the ones that should be reaching out beyond our current patrons to bring everyone in our community into our library. We should have a group dedicated to doing just that, a clear focus on marketing our services to the world.

Is it time for a new association? One that has a clear focus on people, both in name, and in practice. By focusing on librarians and patrons we should be able to reach out and serve a larger number of users in ways we could be missing now. This would educate them that the web is not a library and Google is not a reference desk.. They would've read the Google announcement today and shrugged, they would've known they already get all that at their library. We can find better ways to show them they already have access to everything they're paying for at Questia, they have access to more, and it's essentially free! This association would bring in our vendors and make them market themselves to the world beyond our reach. Our vendors would spend less time marketing to us, and more time marketing themselves to regular folks, who would then get excited about what we (library*) have to offer. A system not unlike the one big pharma uses now (we're the Doctors in that analogy) An association dedicated to librarians, patrons, and really strengthening our libraries would need focus. No time wasted on pet projects, social issues, or red herrings. A clear mission to bring more people to libraries, to raise their expectations, to raise our place in society, to bring vendors, patrons and librarians to the same to table to promote our offerings to the increasing number of people who think we are relics of the past.

Libraries and librarians are losing the PR battle, and in doing so are jeopardizing our future and I don't see the passionate & vocal members of the ALA pushing for what I think we all need.

Introduction
$association dictates a narrow range of interests designed to promote the use and support of libraries. $association recognizes no broad social responsibilities. The responsibilities of the $association are defined in terms of increasing the use of libraries and their image in today's society.
$association promotes the use of libraries by lobbying, marketing and outreach to government leaders, vendors, the general public and any other citizens or organizations that may either benefit from using libraries, or who may in some way benefit libraries.

An idea for the Mission Statement:
The mission of the $association is to provide promotion of libraries, and information services offered therein.
Priorities
I: Marketing
$association will promote efforts to ensure that every individual has full knowledge of resources available at an appropriate library and what services are provided by the staff.
II: Legislation
$association will promote legislation & private sector funds that will strengthen librar*.
III: Library services, development, and technology
$association will promote the availability of information tools and technologies which assist librarians in providing services by working with the companies that provide services or by promoting open source projects.

A Few Random Tech Notes

I had to removed myself from my own whitelist. The majority of mail coming into the domains on LISHost is SPAM. Let me rephrase that, the VAST majority of mail coming into the domains on LISHost is SPAM. The latest craze is making the FROM: and TO: the same so as to squeak through using whitelists. The new Spamassassin really does quite well out of the box, but it can't catch anything from people on my whitelist, nor should it really. So I can no longer trust myself.

Desktop Linux seems nice, but it's just different enough to be confusing. I've been running Linux servers for several years now, and taken a shot at Linux on the desktop a few times, and now I've just started again. My 2 biggest problems so far has been my ability to completely lose windows and my Linux box is just too loud, though that's not fault of Linux. The first thing OpenOffice did was crash on me, but other than that, everything else is lovely. I'm still hoping for Photoshop on Linux some day. I love my Dell monitor because I can have 2 boxes plugged into the same monitor and switch back and forth quite easily.

Rob wrote in his journal they're going to rewrite moderation completely on Slashcode, and change over to CSS as well. Both good things, both a long ways off I'd assume. That'll give me something to look forward to, and maybe even something to help with, if I can ever get the hang of Perl. Now that winter is here and class is almost wrapped up, and the deck is done until spring, I may actually have time to devote to LISNews programming. Not sure I even know where to start. I have been cobbling together a Stats Page that pulls out some of the numbers I post at the end of each month. I'll keep adding to that as I think of more, if you have an idea let me know. I think I may actually be able to pull numbers out of Urchin as well, though I'm not sure.

The answer to the "Windows or Apple laptop" question I posed a few weeks ago is:
C: Payoff my credit cards. I can't justify spending any money on something that I'd only get to use for a few hours a day knowing that I've got a few grand in high interest credit debt eating away at me. So I'm doing the responsible thing and putting most of the money I've saved into paying down my debt.

Our Battle For Hearts and Minds

I just finished up "Empires Of Light" and one section really stuck in my mind. As electric lighting was catching on in the late 1800s there was a rather large group of people who said there would always be a place for gas/oil lighting because it was vastly superior to electric. It wasn't as dangerous, and they thought it to be better in other ways as well. For years the 2 different types of lighting were used in tandem, though eventually one system became the clear winner. I don't think I need to explain how that story ended. There was no small number of people who where certain they had the best way to do something. They had a different view on things, and they didn't see how the new way would be better, cheaper or easier for most people. They also thought their way of doing things was more stable and easier to use, and even more sophisticated.

Though people were certain they had the better system, they had ideas that turned out to be shortsighted, and enough people disagreed with them to eventually remove their option completely, whether they wanted it that way or not. Another example that occurs to me as being similar is the Mac Vs. PC crusades of the 80s and 90s. While that battle is still being fought, we do have a clear winner, at least for the time being. The battle has opened a new front in the Land O' Linux as well. But here again, a system many people knew to be superior, lost huge market share.

I don't know that my examples are perfect, but I think they illustrate situations in history that I can at least draw some parallels to make my point. There are assumptions I hear all the time that I am beginning to question, and I think you should as well:
There will always be a place for the printed word.
There will always be a place for libraries.

It's easy for us (librarians and our patrons) to see a place for libraries in the future, we spend our time in libraries, when we're not in them, we're thinking about, we probably dream about libraries as well. Most of our patrons probably agree with us when we say we'll always be around. But what about everyone else? What about the people who don't know what we have to offer, those who don't know what we do, and they just don't care. What about the people who think libraries are just buildings full of liberal propaganda? What about the next generation of users, those born digital? I don't think the latest Pew & The Internet Life study scared enough of us. Let me give you just one sentence that should scare you:
Students think the web is a library.
If the web is a library, why do we need a building full of books? Why do we need librarians? That's an easy question for us to answer, but I don't think it is for much of the population, and that should scare us. In my mind the most pressing problems we face are not censorship, the PATRIOT Act or Filters, but rather the growing gap between what we offer, and what people think we offer. Just think about the reaction to the Google books announcement.

Front page stories everywhere telling us about a revolutionary and exciting new development in the world of printed books. Suddenly we can search a few pages of books for sale. Through services like eBrary we've been offering not just partial searches of what essentially amounts to a book catalog, we offer the entire book. When your library started offering this service did it make it to the NY Times? Did it even get a mention in your local paper? Why can't I do this with my library's OPAC?

Something equally as scary was the article from Tacoma Washington where in a 2002 survey by Elway Research Inc, libraries ranked last of eight core services three times.
When surveyors asked what services the city should emphasize most over the next two years, respondents named library services last. When surveyors asked what services the city should emphasize in the long run, respondents named libraries last. When surveyors asked, “If you had to choose, what services would you say are the lowest priority?� respondents listed libraries lowest.

Where are our vendors in this land of missed opportunities? OCLC might be an exception to a group of vendors that have done next to nothing to promote what they do for our users, but other than that, do any vendors do any marketing to end users? We are bombarded by booths at conferences, magazine and web ads, and phone calls, but we already know what they have to offer. We should not be the customers, our patrons should be. Like drug companies pushing their prescriptions wares to the general public, our vendors should be on our side pushing them selves to the general public, pushing them into our offices begging for a prescription for what ails them. Out patrons should be coming into the library in the same way they go to their Doctors office, begging for something they saw on TV.

Imagine putting the adverting and marketing departments of all our vendors to work FOR us, instead of them working ON us.

I am truly afraid that if we don't start to market ourselves to people who think we are useless we will witness the death of the public library in our lifetimes. We increasingly find ourselves marginalized by a product [The Web] we can see is currently inferior. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that matters. Ease of use & price will always trump powerful more useful results, it's a sad fact, and one that we need to work with our vendors to over come very soon.

Maybe I'm wrong here, and I really hope that I am, but if I'm even half right, we're going to have a long hard battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation of library users. Unless we're going to be thinking of Blockbuster as our main competitor in the coming decades, we need to start marketing ourselves as better than anything available on the web. We need to tell people our print and web collections are up to date, and our electronic resources can't be found elsewhere. It's a message that is just not getting through.

So, To Blog Or Not To Blog

So* I was just going to reply to Rochelle's post, but it turned into more than just a comment….
It's always interesting to read about how or why people decide to blog, especially why they decide to do it here @LISNews. I don't see much of a difference between doing a blog at typepad or blogger and doing one here. Actually, now that I think about it, I do see at least one noticable difference, there's a much larger built in audience here @LISNews. There are, of course, differences in what you can do with the limited number of functions here. Most of the "real" blogging sites provide you with oodles of options. But if blogging is supposed to be about the writing, then the Slashcode journaling area does the trick. I'd love to add new features to not just the journals, but many areas of the site. That's on my "some day" list. Someday there'll be more feeds, better error messages, easier to use pages, CSS support, fewer bugs, better journals, we'll get bought out by OCLC, someday I'll have some free time to devote to really improving what we have. But that's all some day.

The question of why someone chooses write publicly is another that always interests me. Some people are writers. Walt, Michael, Gary, Steven, these are all people who I can tell just love to write. Some people write a blog for just that reason, they're a writer. Other's do it to communicate with friends, influence politics, looking for friends, pick up chicks, whatever, they all have their own reasons. One thing we all share in common, I think, is the belief that at least someone, somewhere is reading and enjoying what we right. Other than that, I think there are a million different reasons why someone would write. Notice I'm not really drawing any distinction between writing and blogging here. I'm not sure that they're the same thing, but the more I think about it, the less I understand why we feel the need to set apart blogging from other kinds of writing. The medium or the message? Blogger and writer, to me, are essentially the same word.

As far as loyalty to me & LISNews goes, we all know that the world would be a much nicer place if everyone took a loyalty oath to us! But seriously, lame jokes aside, I feel loyalty to LISNews because I've put so much time and money into it, Rochelle and some others have done the same, and that's something that I suppose does tend to build loyalty, or at least becomes a habit, maybe even an addiction. I've had more than a few people email me talking about they're daily LISNews "fix."

The "blockbusters" like Walt, and shoe (when she was still around more) are just a part of the site like everyone else. They're just a bigger part than most. Walt is unique in that he's "Walt." In the library world he's like Madonna, he needs no last name, when someone says Walt, we know they mean Crawford. Obviously that's not due to anything he's done here @LISNews, that's because he's a prolific writer and speaker who just happens to see some value in LISNews as well. Why he chooses to participate with us here is not something I've asked him about, but it's always surprised me. I remember after the first comment he left @LISNews I got several emails from people asking me if I thought it was really him, and if I was excited. It turns out it was really him, and it was pretty exciting to get validation from someone who's considered an authority in our profession. Shoe was a blockbuster because she wrote. She writes well, about things that interest us, and she did it frequently. She's still writing, she's just not doing in here these days. I guess my point here is the popular blogs here, and anywhere, are popular because the folks that write them do so frequently, and the do it well. There may be a trillion blogs out there, but very few of them are interesting to more than a few people, and most are only updated once a month. When you're writing about libraries, at a site about libraries, read by librarians, you'll tend to be read more than if you're writing elsewhere.

LISNews as a place to keep a blog is unique because there is already a community here, and your posts stand a much better chance of being seen and read because they show up on a page that is read by several thousand people a day. The journals (yes, I'm using journal and blog interchangeably to confuse you) have become part of the draw here, they are part of the reason that people come back to LISNews a few times a day. All of us LISNewsterz are part of the community and because we can all have our own journal, and we can all comment, we are all part of the reason for the sites popularity. It's a group effort more now than ever. Walt & shoe do bring some traffic and boost stats, but so does everyone else. They just have built a larger audience than the rest of us because they are very good at what they do.

* So... there's a part in Geeks by Jon Katz where he talks about how it's only geeks who start sentences with So... I've noticed that to be true as well.

LISNews Numbers from October 2004

We ran 306 stories last month which recieved 1080 comments from 102 folks. Those are up 721, and 91 last month.

--
Total Sessions 205,390.00 (175,519.00 in Sept)
Total Pageviews 892,437.00 (650,988.00 in Sept)
Total Hits 2,354,970.00 (1,791,315.00 in Sept)
Total Bytes Transferred 24.06 GB
--
Average Sessions Per Day 6,625.48 (5,850.63 in Sept)
Average Pageviews Per Day 28,788.29
Average Hits Per Day 75,966.77
Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 794.76 MB
--
Average Pageviews Per Session 4.34
Average Hits Per Session 11.46
Average Bytes Per Session 122.83 KB
Average Length of Session (HH:MM:SS) 00:10:51
--

Most popular pages where, as usual, article.pl, lisnews.rss, index, comments.pl, descriptions.rss, popular.rss and index.rss.

Most popular Journals: nbruce, daniel, show, djfiander, and birdie. Daniel also had the 3 most read single entries, followed by one from shoe, and a couple from djfiander.

Most popular journals via RSS: Walt, slashgirl, nbruce, Samantha, shoe, ChuckB, Daniel, birdie and Fang-Face.

Anything else you're interested in please let me know and I'll see what I can grep out of the logs.

Apple Power Book or a Dell with Windows?

I've been saving my pennies for the past several months and I've saved just about enough to buy my first (and perhaps last) laptop computer. I've always had desktops, Macs for about a decade until I turned to the dark side about 5 years ago. I currently have a Dell/XP box and a Linux machine running at home, but I spend most, heck, 99% of my time on the Dell.

So now I'm looking for advice on where to turn for my portable. I expect to use it at home, around the house, out on the deck (if I ever finish it), and probably bring it to work to listen to music. I'll also be doing a fair amount of traveling (20+ flights this year, hopefully half that next) so it'll be good to have a computer while killing time in the airport. Not really any situations that call out for a Mac, nor any that really call out for Windows either.

What applications do I need, you ask? SSH, Photoshop, Chat (AIM, ICQ, etc…), email, Office, all the usual stuff. Nothing here that really stands out on one platform Vs. the other. I Know there's no Access on the Mac, but that's not a bid deal. Again, nothing that really makes either platform jump out at me here either.

So we're down to price? Again, here we're about even as well. I priced out a few of the Dells and a few of the Macs, and they come out within about $300 of each other, not enough to really change my mind. I'd expected the difference to be MUCH larger, but with the options I chose things were pretty close.

So what about the hardware? Apple's 17" PowerBook is hard to compare with anything Dell puts out, but the 15.4 is close enough. Apple also has the back lit keyboard. Ports and other I/O issues seemed to be a draw. So I think Apple has the edge in hardware. I don't need to plugin any special printers or other odd peripherals, so I think I'm not cutting myself off by saying Apple has the edge. True, the PowerPC is only 1.5 Vs. about 2 ghz on the Dell side, and battery life seems to be longer on the Dell.

OS. Maybe here is the biggest difference. It's XP Vs. OSX, the death match of the new millennium. Strangely enough, I consider this a draw as well. I can see the strengths and weaknesses of both systems, and I am able to work well in both the Mac and the Windows worlds. Call me crazy if you must, but it's just not a deal breaker for me either way. I like the Mac, but I admit XP is a good OS as well. I may be a bit more productive on Windows when I have a dozen apps running at once, but for the most part I feel I can work well on both.

So what are your thoughts? Anyone made the switch recently and have any good stories to share? Should I be considering Linux?

LISNews One Point Oh!

We're just a couple weeks short of the 5th birthday of LISNews, and to celebrate I've been trying (and trying, and trying, and trying) to find version 1.0. Just as I'd given up all hope, Steve Galbraith came through for me, and found the first page in his old G3.

So, presented here, for the first time in several years, is version 1.0 of LISNews, from the first week of November, 1999. It's only the home page, and many, if not all, of the links are broken. This version was around for about 6 months or so until I managed to get PHPSlash up and running. I'm still hoping I can dig up all the old stats as well, but I think I've long since lost them as well.

User Name Issues?

If you're one of the people who registered a username that you thought was lovely, and had it chopped short by the slashcode, let me know and I'll fix it.

I've just noticed a few usernames that look like they ran up against the 20 character limit in the database. I've upped that to 30, so if your stuck with half the name you wanted, I can now fix it.

Pies, Class and Green Day

3 completly unrelated and useless things in one!

If you've ever thought about making an apple pie, here's some things I've learned after making 20 or 30. I imagine you could apply these lessons to any type of pie, I just happed to like apple.

Make sure the apples are ripe, very ripe
Use at least 2 different kinds of apples, the more the merrier

Don't put too much water in the crust or it'll shrink & droop when cooked
Use both butter and shortening in the crust
Use frozen butter, and add that last
Using kosher salt adds a nice salt kick to some bites of crust
Use a food processor
Egg white brush followed by a raw sugar sprinkle on top makes it pretty
Roll it out by hand, between plastic wrap makes it easier
Refrigerate over night before you roll it, and again after you roll it until it stiffens up

Just a pinch of nutmeg will do fine, and not too much cinnamon, fresh is best
Start out with the oven around 400 for a few minutes or the crust wilts
300 is too cool, it makes the apples mushy, keep it up around 350 for the remaining time
Don't forget to add flour or corn starch to the apples/sugar mix, add some butter as well
Just sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour, keep it simple inside

So far, class is kicking my ass. The students aren't, but the work is. I love the topic, the students, and the work, but there's so much of it! For those of you who've taught, you know how it is (for all you stuck in class still, here's a secret), it's hard as hell putting a class together the first time you teach it, especially a graduate class, and especially one that only meets once a week.. It's an interesting topic and some of the students are simply brilliant, so it's been great fun reading the papers and home work, but preparing a 2 hour lecture takes me at least 6 hours, it's just exhausting. I've got my fingers crossed that a) they'll ask me to teach again and b) it'll be the same class. I wish I had the money to quit work and go back and get my PHD, I'd love to do this full time. Too many balls in the air this fall, though I think I've complained about that already, haven't I? Even with all the work I'm happy that I'm doing it, and hopefully the students are as well!

I broke down and bought a new CD for the first time in years. Lately I've just been buying used, but I was so excited by the Green Day I kept hearing on the radio I finally gave in to temptation and paid $14 for the CD at Record Theater. What a horrible disappointment, I should sue for false advertising. That one song is about 100 times better than everything else on the CD. Grrrr, Green Day has finally "jumped the shark."

Another Interesting Blogger Piece

Joey sent me This Link to a Language Log post on blogging. It begins with a look at This Newsweek column from Steven Leve who says "the Blogosphere is looking more and more like a nation of ankle-biters."

Mark Liberman has some interesting comments and links to add as well.

My feelings are some people focus on the good, others on the bad, and the forest for the trees analogy works quite well. Some people can see the big confusing forest made up of good healthy trees, and some old dead wood, and they say the forest is dying, others see the trees that are growing, and say the best is yet to come. Both sides might be right.

LISNews: Numbers for September 2004

Urchin shows just over 1.4 million sessions (that's about 118,300/month) for 2004. We've served up just over 4.4 million pages (that's about 370k/month) and came close to 17 million hits.
For just September '04:

Total Sessions 175,519.00
Total Page views 650,988.00
Total Hits 1,791,315.00
Total Bytes Transferred 16.85 GB

Average Sessions Per Day 5,850.63
Average Page views Per Day 21,699.60
Average Hits Per Day 59,710.50
Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 575.15 MB

Average Page views Per Session 3.70
Average Hits Per Session 10.20
Average Bytes Per Session 100.66 KB
Average Length of Session (HH:MM:SS) 00:11:09

Those numbers are all up again from last month.

Most popular pages? Article.pl, lisnews.rss, index, comments, descriptions.rss, journal.pl, geek.rss and academic.rss. We should really be putting more stories in the popular RSS feeds.

Most popular journals? nbruce, Daniel, slashgirl, Fang-Face, birdie, Walt, Blake, ChuckB, Rocelle, Gregs*, and Samantha. The interesting thing now is the RSS hits far outnumber the regular hits, so most journals are now being read through readers.

Most popular journal RSS feeds? Walt, Blake, nbruce, slashgirl, shoe, Samantha, Daniel, Birdie, Fang-Face, ChuckB and Karl.

Between the RSS feeds and regular HTML, The journals are being hit A LOT now. I'll add an educated guess that the LISNews journals are read far more often than many blogs. Much larger built in audience here.

Not much interesting stuff in the referral logs this month, apparently we were somewhere in Fark and Slashdot last month. Google continues to absolutely dominate the referral numbers. I'm also noticing more SPAM in there as well.

Calvin, Kogitans, and Thinking in Chunks

As a quick follow up to my last post, something I forgot to mention was LISFeeds. If I really wanted a quick way to read all the library blogs I could handle I'd pay more attention to our little project, but alas, it sits, mostly ignored, at least by me. I am looking forward to the Bloglines account Aaron popped together for me. Maybe I just don't want to read library news after it's been run through the blogfilter, I prefer to read it in it's native format. In some ways I feel like more of a creator and less of a consumer of librarian news and information. I know that's not exactly true, since most of what we post isn't original, but we bring on the news nonetheless.

I might as well come clean on the lie I've been living for the past several years. Though I've been working as a librarian and I have my MLS, I only became a "real" librarian 2 months ago, that is, I've only had a cat for 2 months. I know it's written somewhere, maybe in the ALA charter, maybe it was Ranganathan or Dewey, someone said that all librarians must own a cat. I've never lied about owning a cat, I've just always avoided the topic. I knew that the secret would've leaked out to the liberal media at some point, they always find the truth.

I know many of you are gasping, maybe a few people spit your morning coffee all over your keyboard, someone fell off their chair, but it's true, to be a real librarian you must own at least one cat, and having more than three isn't weird, it's seen as normal, all the cool kids have at least 4!

So, I'm officially the last librarian to own a cat, and now I feel like a real librarian, next year at ALA I can sit around and say "oh my cat's much cuter than that, you'll never believe what he did last week…." and so on, just like a real librarian.

Speaking of librarian traits, I was thinking about how "we" think. Do Librarians tend to think in chunks? Do they think in terms of issues, volumes and pages? Do they think about things in a linear, regularly ordered way. Do we need a world where one volume or issue follows another in an ordered in predictable way? Is this how we used to think, that is, is this how "olderbrarians" think, and us darn kids can't be bothered to think in this nice orderly way? I wonder about this because I wonder about librarians embracing blogs.

Maybe these are stereotypes, seeing how librarians have embraced the web, but are librarians really embracing web logs? I'm obviously very biased in my opinions, but I see a real value in what we do, not just at LISNews, but all of us bloggers. So what does the average librarian think about blogs? Do they care about them, do they see them as a trend? Can we be a blog and a source for original news? Since I now work as a solobrarian I'm rather out of touch with what the average librarian is up to these days.

Traditionally libraries have dealt with monographs and serials. There was order, there was continuity and there was predictability. You knew when the next issue of Library Journal was coming in, you could count on your standing order with Scarecrow to arrive each month, or you knew which catalogs to check for good psychology titles. Then along came the web (along came a spider almost worked so well there). Suddenly there was chaos, but librarians, strangely enough, embraced it. Though we continue to attempt to bring some kind of order to this chaos through projects like the LII or through the infinite number of best of the pages built at most library sites.
It's something I've always asked myself, and the other authors at LISNews, how can we do a better job, can we be real reporters and actually have original work, can we be not just like Slashdot, but more than Slashdot, more like LJ or AL. The very idea frightens me, the work involved, the tax forms, and all that jazz. Not to mention the new idea of having employees, pay checks, deadlines. Questions that this would raise: How do we get paid? Who does the writing? What do we report on? Can we do a print version? Do I need to INC us? Can we be a non-profit INC? How would ever want to read this crap? Are we just duplicating what's already being done elsewhere? Is there any audience for what a bunch of nobodies would write about? Is Kogitans a good name for a journal? Can't I even answer my own questions?

A Not Very Interesting Post On Not Being Interested

For someone who has done more than a little blogging in the past few years, I feel like I don't read enough other blogs. First, allow me to digress for no good reason. Let me define what I mean when I say "blog." I tend to use a rather loose definition for the word blog, I figure it's still new enough a word that it's open to interpretation. I'll just define by example:

Marylaine writes a blog, Walt does a blog, Rory does a blog. So does Jessamyn, Steven M. Cohen (yes, I always call him Steven M. Cohen, even when I am speaking to him), and Gary.

Anyone who does some writing and then posts it to the web on a somewhat regular schedule does a blog. You may call sites that don't use blogging software blogs, or find some other reason to avoid using the B word, but I feel we're all more or less similar. If you'd rather not define blogs so widely, well, tough, it's the definition I like and you're not the boss of me. Maybe I shouldn't use the B word, and just call them all web sites? I'd make up a new word to cover all these different formats, but it doesn't seem worth it. Call them what you will; zines, blogs, journals, diaries, web journals, blozines, zinlogs, zlogs, blines, webzines, whatever, the end result is the same, I have something to read on my computer that stands a good chance of teaching me something new. It's not the medium, or format, it's the message that matters. The message is often original, timely, interesting and helpful.

The web is full of really interesting reading, which is why I think I may be missing out by skipping the blogosphere. I don't do it on purpose. I really believe there is something going on that is very interesting, and very powerful, and it really excites me as a concept, just read a few of the stories on how blogs attacked the CBS memos, there's good stuff going on here. I just can't seem to get interested enough in what's being written to keep up with many sites. I'm too busy, I'm not interested, I'm bored of them, I dunno, I just don't read many blogs.

Part of the reason I don't spend my time on many blogs is I end up reading a lot of the same things on every site. Part of the reason is I don't go blog reading much is just forget to find my way back, my bookmarks file hasn't been touched in ages. I actually just ran across one of my first book marks files I used during the late 90's, interesting stuff there. Another part of the reason is I'm not well read in the blogosphere is I don't want to know what everyone else is writing about, maybe I'll find out we're just doing the same ol' thing at LISNews, maybe I'll be tempted to get lazy and just lift some links. Probably a stupid reason, I know, but it's one that I'm not afraid to admit. And one more part is I just have a short attention span, and if I can't find something worth reading, I just move on and pretty much forget about the site. While the total number of sites I visit on any given day is probably staggering, the number of starting points I have are limited. A few news search engines, a few blogs, and other news sites, and that's about it. I've become rather insular in my web browsing. Slashdot is the one and only site that I've stuck with since the first day I saw it.

Steven M. Cohen keeps my prayers would be answered by an RSS reader, maybe he's right.

LISNews talk at "Computers In Libraries 2005"

I have a few months, well, several months to be more accurate, to put something together for my big LISNews talk at "Computers In Libraries 2005" I've done a several conference talks in the past, a couple alone, one with Gary, and one with Steven, and I've enjoyed most. I'll never catch up with Gary, or Steven, but I'd like to do a few more next year as well. I'm looking forward to this one because it's about something that's been a huge part of my life for almost 5 years now. I'll post more details in the coming months, but keep it in mind. A full 45 minutes of me blabbing about LISNews, what could be better?!

That reminds me, it's just over a month until LISNews turns 5 (That's such a cute age). I just looked at the stats for the first time this month and at first glance they seem to be way up over last month. My absence has certainly not made LISNews any less popular! In case you missed it, I've been mostly AWOL from LISNews this month.

As the old saying goes, I've bitten off more than I can chew this fall. Teaching, building a deck, work, family and personal commitments have all used up every second of free time I hoped to have to devote to anything else. Class has been especially hard, though I feel like I'm over the hump, though I still have 2 more months of class to make sure I'm fully prepared for. Teaching a new class for the first time is always the hardest, especially when it's only once a week. I'm finding it especially hard to remember names because I only see the faces once a week. I forgot how much I really do enjoy doing this. I really do love teaching, it's one of the few things I do that I feel completely focused on. Maybe I should follow Michael Stephens lead and go get my PHD. That'll be the first thing I do when I win the lottery I guess.

And a big thanks to Steven M Cohen for putting together the CIL track that we'll be a part of.

Keeping Up

Every time I read a story at The Register I think I really should to add that site to my links bar, but I don't, nor do I have any other single source news sites in my list O' frequently visited sites. The Register is just a single source of news, one of many single excellent sources. Slashdot is a source of many, which is one advantage blogs have over traditional single source outlets. I was trying to figure out why I never go to sites like The Register any longer, but I do stick with sites like Slashdot. The register is focused, and that's great, but for me at least, I want to know what else is going on out there, something with a lack of focus fits with how I like to stay informed more than something with a more focused approach. I like that blogs generally bring together an eclectic collection, an omelet if you will, of news in one spot for me. Add in the comments & journals, and I think it's an unbeatable way to stay informed. This is one reason why people keep saying how blogs are so great, and how they're replacing the traditional models of reporting. Hype? Probably, but blogs do have some advantages, and they fit well into my outlook on staying informed.

But, and it's a big but, the entire blog model relies on traditional sources, free sources, of original reporting. Good reporting takes money (money comes from ads), focus, training, standards and so on. We're just taking bits and pieces from them, and pointing people at the good stuff. If current trends continue, every traditional source of original reporting will be behind a wall of registration. What does that mean for the future of blogging? I don't have an answer, but I do know it's not a positive trend.

I like blogs like Slashdot and LISNews because we're meta news sites, I like the Google news site because it's more or less the same thing, albeit without the human interaction, posting headlines through some mysterious algorithm that works to figure out what's important. I also like the Yahoo most popular stories page. They all share the common format of posting a mish mash of stories that are for some reason important enough to have made it through some type of filter. The web allows me to read as much or as little as I choose, I'm not left asking questions about where the story came from or who wrote it.

LISNews Number for Last Month

Real quick run down on some numbers from last month.

Total Sessions 37,103.00
Total Pageviews 110,579.00
Total Hits 331,766.00
Total Bytes Transferred 2.83 GB
Average Sessions Per Day 5,300.42
Average Pageviews Per Day 15,797.00
Average Hits Per Day 47,395.14
Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 413.42 MB
Average Pageviews Per Session 2.98
Average Hits Per Session 8.94
Average Bytes Per Session 79.87 KB
Average Length of Session (HH:MM:SS) 00:10:52

Most of those numbers are up again from last month I think. Hope to have more time for better numbers at the end of this month.

Back In The Saddle, Again

I'll be getting back up to speed this weekend hopefully. I was pretty good about checking mail while down at Disney, but I've got allota catching up to do still. September is turning out to be rather busy. I'm hoping to build a deck on the house, work is sending me away twice, I've got my "Reference Librarian" issue to finish up, plus class started yesterday, so that'll keep my busy for the rest of the year.

Disney was fun. There seems to be 4 kinds of Disney people. Those who've never been to Disney World, those who hate Disney regardless of whether or not they've been there, those who love everything Disney, and those who don't love it, but who are impressed with what it takes to run an operation of that size. I'm in that last camp, it's not what I'd call a magical place, but it's mighty impressive. The shear size of everything is just mind boggling. It takes something like 52k employees (cast members) to run that place, spread out of something like 40 square miles, I can't even imagine what it takes to just run payroll for that many people in so many locations. Buses, boats, trams, trolleys, cars, vans… moving people around is a huge undertaking. I'm not quite clear on why they made everything so spread out. It had an entirely sanitized suburban feel everywhere I went. Getting a "cast member" to break out of the scripted lines they're given was next to impossible. I'm not talking about the folks running around in the costumes, even the dorky kid from TN that took us on a boat tour wouldn't loosen up at all. They've got all they're employees programmed, er, trained well. It turns out Florida is hotter than hell in August, who would've thunk it?

I'll grep out some stats for August some time this weekend I hope. It looks like things were quite active around here over the past week. The weather is supposed to be lovely all weekend, so I'm hoping I'll be too busy outside to worry much about inside pursuits, though I know I have quite a bit left to do for class. It looks like it'll be a good group this semester; I'm looking forward to it.

Ten Thousand Comments

We've more or less hit 10k on the Slashcode comments now, which got me
wondering what I could quickly grep out of the database and learn about our comments and users
thus far.

The users: The LISNews user accounts can be broken down into three groups.
1. The early adopters, those with a userid of less than 602, 2. The old
schoolers, those with userids of between 602 and 2211 and the new guys,
anyone with a uid of 2212 or higher. There are 3 groups because of how
LISNews has evolved since I started the ball rolling almost 5 years ago now.
There was the LISNews 1.0, a rarely visited static HTML site, then there was
LISNews 2.0, a more popular PHPSlash driven site, and for about the last
year or so there has been LISNews 3.0, a site powered by Slashcode. So let's
begin by looking at who's been doing what.

The early adopter have left 6345 comments, those comments have an average
score of 1.8. The old schoolers are a quiet bunch, and have left a total of
only 435 comments, with an average score of 1.53 while the new guys have
left 3118 comments with an average score of 1.7, the overall average score
is 1.5886. I'm using the average score of only those comments that have been
moderated, currently about half of all comments have been moderated.

LISNews in The News

I was digging around in Lexis today looking for something else (making homework for class actually) and I thought I'd see where LISNews had been mentioned. It turned up in most of the spots I'd expect it, and one I didn't, the Columbus Dispatch. I also found a few articles I missed, one in particular had a review of the site that caught my eye:

NICHE PORTALS: LISNews (lisnews.com)
Audience: Librarians
Search Engine: Site search only
Daily News: Library, publishing, technology
What They Sell: Nothing
Type of Student Resources: None
Community Tools: None
Content: Links to outside library news sources
Cost: Free
Best Feature: Headline service sends you a preview of the latest news via e-mail--daily, weekly, or monthly
The Final Word/Grade: [A] This volunteer-run site will be nirvana for library-news junkies. Pray it doesn't get bought out by a vendor

That's from the Library Journal netConnect Supplement back in 2000. I've only been asked about being "bought out" once before, not that I was asked because someone was thinking of making an offer, it just came up in conversation, but it was from someone at LJ. It really caught me off guard at the time because the thought never even crossed my mind, but I guess it's been on at least one other persons mind. Don't take this to mean anything other than the review from several years ago caught my eye. I've never had an offer to "buy" LISNews, nor do I think it's a good idea, nor do I even know how such a thing could even happen, nor do I think anyone would find it a useful purchase.

It's nice to get an "A" grade. Less than 2 weeks till class starts and I'm actually ahead of schedule at this point. Syllabus and first few weeks of lectures are done.

In other Blake news, I'll be in Disney for a week starting the 25th.

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