"Mattering in the Blogosphere: Observations from the Well-Connected."
"AL asked 16 much-visited librarian bloggers why the medium continues to appeal to them and what keeps
them posting. The 10 who replied are, in alphabetical order:"
- Blake Carver, LISNews
- Nicole Engard, What I Learned Today
- Rochelle Hartman, Tinfoil+Raccoon
- Sarah Houghton-Jan, Librarian in
- Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian
- Kathleen de la Pena McCook, Librarian at the Kitchen
- Mary Minow, Library Law
- Joshua Neff, Goblin in the Library
- Jack Stephens, Conservator
- Jessamyn West, Librarian.net
Nicole, Rochelle, Jessamyn, and Kathleene have all posted their answers, and here are
mine. Normally I'd reread and edit this because it was so long ago I have no idea what I wrote at this point. Unfortunatly I don't have the time, so here 'tis:
What does it take for a blog to have an impact on the biblioblogosphere?
A writer who's obsessed/possessed & smart, and a really good writer. There are soooo many people writing
now it's really hard to stick out. But a good writer who writes regularly will stand out in the crowd. A
new blogger needs to write A LOT. It's easy for people who were way out in front of the curve to stick
out because they've been around forever, or someone like Walt Crawford because everyone already knows who
he is, but for someone just starting out, it's going to be tough to go at it alone and get noticed if
they're not working hard. I guess I'd also separate someone who's just a blogger who posts links and
quick thoughts from a real writer who will write thoughtful and intelligent essays. It's those writers
that will find it easier to stand out from the crowd.
What do the readers of your blog value about your posts (i.e., â€œvoiceâ€? as an online columnist,
value-added news coverage)?
There's only one thing I've heard regularly over the years, and that's "You never know what's coming
next". Since LISNews is collaborative I don't even know what's coming next. We might post a story about a
book that's been overdue for 70 years, a student getting tazed in an academic library, or something about
Cuba, you just never know. That's my favorite thing about LISNews and blogs in general, you just never
know what you'll read next. Since we're a group we don't speak with a single voice, but rather try to
cover a wide range of topics that won't be seen elsewhere.
How do you decide when to postâ€”inspiration, obligation to keep the blog fresh and readers engaged, or
The "official LISNews FAQ" used to say "We post stories and links we find interesting. If you find the
interesting too, then today's your lucky day." The instructions I give the new authors are about the
same. We post things we find interesting, things we learn from, things we laugh at, and things that will
provoke discussions amongst our readers. It doesn't really matter to me if anyone else likes everything I
post or even finds it interesting. It doesn't matter if there's a million readers or just 10, since we're
a noncommercial site we don't need to follow any numbers.
How do you determine what the right length is for a given post?
For me the biggest determining factor is time. I simply don't have the time to write long, involved
original essays. I would love to be able to have each new post at LISNews be a literary masterpiece that
will be studied for decades. Instead, 99% of the time, I only have the time to post a quick link and a
summary of what I've seen elsewhere. There really isn't any right length, some topics lend themselves
very well to long expositions, others are just a line with a link or two.
What has surprised you most about the process of blogging?
How quick people are to criticize and attack. How mean spirited and angry people can be. And how kind and
sharing people can be. The best thing about being a blogger is the people who read and comment on the
blog, and the worst thing about being a blogger is the people who read and comment on the blog. I've
also been really surprised at how hard it's been to get more people to join LISNews as an author. I beg
and beg for more people to write at LISNews and it's hard to keep anyone around. Bloggers tend to be lone
writers, they tend to be very interested in self promotion and generally don't jump at the chance to work
with others. It's really surprising how little we all want to work together.
What lessons can libraries learn from your experiences as an individual blogger?
Don't be afraid to open things up. The first thing I hear from librarians about any interactive web
products (blogs/wikis/comments) is they're afraid of what will happen. They're afraid of criticism,
spammers, kids and any other evil doer you can imagine. LISNews has been open and interactive for almost
8 years now, and while we have had some problems, all the positive things that happened have far
outweighed the bad. When you're open and honest and allow people to participate they really feel more
attached to what you're doing. Librarians need to let go of their fear of losing control and of using a
less than perfect system.
Whatâ€™s missing from the LIS blogosphere that youâ€™d like to see someone take on?
More collaboration. Getting bloggers to work together is like trying to pick up greased cats in a bounce
house. There's so many of us writing about so much of the same thing I'd love to see more collaboration.
I can't imagine there's a topic or niche that's not being covered out there by someone.
How will the blogs of today be regarded a decade from now? Should digital libraries collect
Blogs of today will be more or less similar to blogs a decade from now. The purpose of blogs is
communication, and that's not something that'll change. The tools may change, the method of getting that
information will change, but the content will essentially be the same. People who use blogging software
to share and promote themselves will be doing more or less the same thing in a decade. They might use
more video or audio, the software will be easier to use, there will be more bandwidth, and small hosting
providers might not be around, but the primary goal of communication/promotion will never go away.
Because of how much is being written, and what's being written it would be wonderful to have a collection
of blogs to view in 10 or 20 years. Much of what we write about is so transient and easily forgotten
about, so a way to preserve this content for the future is important.