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As I've been looking at the future of Cites & Insights, I've realized that lack of monetary reward isn't the only problem. (If anyone's wondering, voluntary contribution rate is still substantially less than 1% of apparent readership, and I'm not making another pitch in the September issue.)
And I wondered why I was thinking C&I wasn't as much fun as other writing--even though putting it together is interesting, it has good readership, and has impact.
I think I've figured out one aspect of this, hinted at in the subject line: There's no delayed gratification in Cites & Insights.
By which I mean: With any traditional publication, there's a time lag of at least a few days (typically a few weeks) between finishing with the manuscript, or even the camera-ready copy, and seeing the final product (or, for a column or article, the final product in a larger context, probably with editorial improvement I didn't know about). Even after a couple hundred of these, it's still sort of a gas to see it "in print"--and to be able to read it fresh.
With C&I (and with weblogs, and with postings here), it's published as soon as it's done. It's worse with C&I: The last few hours before publication are mostly copyfitting, which is not (shall we say) the most thrilling work in the world--and the first hour or so after publication is updating the running volume index (a Word "document" that consists only of index entries, built on the fly and normalized to some extent in late December, before publishing it).
By the time I'm done with the index updates, the last thing I want to do is read the issue--and it wouldn't be fresh in any case.
I'm going to try something to see if it restores some of the joy of doing C&I. I've taken 4:1 out of the 3-ring binder I use for this year's issues (before preparing a bound volume of the full year), put it in a folder, and set it with my other current reading. I'll read it "fresh." Then, a little later, I'll move on to 4:2. I'll see some of the gaffes and stupid comments, but maybe I'll also see the good stuff...
The timing's useful here. A week ago, just before coming down with a cold (now mostly gone), I submitted the final column in my highest-profile series. Times do change.
I may be stubborn about PDF, but far be it from me to insist that people use email (or check here!) to get notifications for new Cites & Insights issues.
On behalf of RSS bigots and others (OK, let's face it, LISNews is now one of very few weblogs I check directly rather than via Bloglines), I've started
C&I Update, a simple Blogger weblog with an Atom (RSS) feed, primarily to get that RSS feed.
I'll post each time there's a new issue, and occasionally for administrative reasons (monetization, expanding the zine, changing directions, that sort of thing: rarely more than once or twice a month).
You can pick up the Atom feed at C&I Updates, or you can--I think--just copy this link. (cical.blogspot.com/atom.xml)
Maybe I just don't understand "social software." No, come to think of it, that's a given: I don't understand social software.
I joined Orkut because someone invited me. I accepted as "friends" anyone who asked--with one or two exceptions--if I had even the slightest idea who they were. I might have done the reverse--called myself someone's friend in absence of their action--once, maybe twice.
Some time last week, Orkut said I had more than one million contacts via the 19 "friends." As of today, that's up to 1,194,628.
And I'll be d***d if I know what that means. That I could reasonably expect any of 1.2 million people to pay attention to a message I send them? Probably not. That there are six degrees of separation between me and 1.2 million people who are somehow on Orkut? Probably, but so what?
There does seem to be an emphasis on dating, but I'm not looking. I'm in two "communities," but although I check Orkut more-or-less once a day, I don't even remember to check those communities for postings.
And, of course, Orkut's currently running so slowly and badly that it wouldn't help much. Today, even trying to see who the 19 "friends" actually are and what posts might be on the LISNews forum, I was logged out twice within 20 minutes for "30 minutes of inactivity," and it took an average of two minutes to get from screen to screen. This may say something about Google's commitment to this whole idea: Seems like they have a 486 somewhere hooked up to a phone line...
(If I put quotes around "friends" it's because I've only met 10 of the 19, and there are only five or six who I'd consider anything more than very casual acquaintances.)
What am I missing? What's the big deal with Orkut or other "social software"? Or is it just that I'm asocial, and thus not a very good fit?
[First: Go read other journals. As rarely as I post, it's absurd that this is the most-read journal. Now, we return to our previously scheduled posting.]
"He not busy being born is busy dying."
The shark is forever swimming, forever feeding. It stops, it dies.
See a connection? Yes, I've been musing on Blake's story from last week for a while--and continuing to muse on the future of the far-less-significant Cites & Insights. Actually, not just Blake's most recent comment, but his earlier thoughts about (for example) starting up a LISNews-related magazine...
I think that, for both of us, there's the felt need either to move forward or to drop back. (And if I'm putting words in Blake's mouth, well, he knows how to comment.)
I don't think it's lack of recognition or appreciation (in either case). Blake even knows that he can count on some fiscal support when he needs it. (I may have been too clear about not actually needing it!)
I do think it's about the "grow or die" situation.
Not sure how that works out for LISNews. The journals represented a growth of sorts. The readership continues to grow. Already there are enough stories that if you only visit once a day you'll have to bring up old stories to get the full picture.
For C&I, well...technically, it's been growing, in pages, coverage, and (I think but can't currently be sure) readership. Support pretty much stalled after the first couple of weeks. The COWLZ-related posting, as you can see, drew zero comments: That still seems permastalled.
Given my druthers, and if I could put together the support mechanisms (e.g., say, three or four vendors or regional library networks--none of whom get dealt with directly in C&I, so conflicts of interest can't arise, agreeing to serve as cosponsors for a modest sum), here's what I'd like to do:
C&I already has a substantially larger readership than the one library-related newsletter I know of that has included a fair number of conference and program reports--and it beats the price of that now-overpriced publication all hollow! I'm beginning to despair of LITA itself ever getting the kind of substantive program reports that we used to have (geezer alert) in the good ol' days of the LITA Newsletter; this might be one partial solution.
It might also to be another stupid idea from ol' Walt. And yes, there's still that small temptation to slide gracefully into early tired senior status and spend all those extra hours reading books and the like...
The temporary problem has been solved, and Cites & Insights 4:10 is now back at cites.boisestate.edu, where it belongs.
It will also continue to be available at the cical.home.att.net address, since most weblog references to it point there already. I'll never know how many people downloaded this issue; no big deal.
Only a few people have ever seen my sad list of the five people I just can't deal with any more--four of whom I've never met (for which I'm grateful). I wish there was no such list, but you know, sometimes you realize that responding to certain people is beating your head against a stucco wall, and the bleeding isn't worth it.
Two of the five popped up at LISNews this weekend, both laying into me for one reason or another. One has added an obsession with how Cites & Insights should be produced, how detailed its table of contents should be, and other stuff, to his other set of obsessions--and doesn't quite seem to realize that the more he complains (repeating the same complaints over and over), the less likely I am to actually pay attention. Tossing in compliments about the content doesn't help. This is a prime example of not only looking a gift horse in the mouth but trying to kick its teeth in; it's really not appreciated.
The other...well, you know, once someone's called you a "hater" in their own weblog, there's really nowhere to go but out. The range of insults was amusing at one point but got tiresome pretty fast. I certainly don't mind disagreement (as I think the current issue demonstrates!), but I do get turned off by sheer nastiness.
What I can't for the life of me figure out is why these two so obviously grab onto Cites & Insights (spelled variously in their various rants) as soon as it comes out, given that they find it and me so variously unacceptable. Do some people just love looking for stuff to pick at, hate, disagree with? Even after they should be aware that they're not going to get a direct response from me, ever? Or, even more, that I'm likely to be persuaded by their hostility and repetition?
[OK, it could help persuade me to stop doing Cites & Insights altogether, which I'm sure would please one of the two--but then my stubborn streak kicks in...]
Oh well. It's Monday, the weekend was less productive than usual, and I'm grumpy. Never mind.
The problem has been solved. See brief entry on Wednesday, July 28.
The biggest newspaper in these parts is pretty regularly labeled as extreme-left (despite being owned by Hearst). But I've noticed something the past few months:
Every time there's any reporting on John Kerry's campaign, by the fifth or sixth paragraph there's always a "response" from some Bush or RNC flack. Always.
"OK," I thought, "they're making a point of providing balance."
Then I started reading the reports on Bush campaign speeches--and that's what they are, whether the taxpayers pay for them or not, when he's telling us what he's going to do the Next Four Years.
No "balance" quote. Nothing from the DNC or Kerry campaign.
Interesting behavior from the "liberal" media.
I'm just tossing this out to see if there's any hope of reviving an interesting but dormant effort. (LISNews has a bigger audience than Cites & Insights, although a smaller one--I assume--than American Libraries, where I've also discussed this.)
A somewhat closed Topica discussion list drew a dozen or so zine/newsletter publishers and some very helpful people--Dan Lester, who provided disk space for a COWLZ archive (which also serves as the home for Cites & Insights) and Eric Lease Morgan, who put together a database and dark-archive harvest mechanism for the effort, among them.
And that's been about it.
I'm not sure that this is a call for renewed effort and excitement. Maybe it's just a recognition that we're all busy people and that the effort wasn't going to achieve the kind of recognition/publicity/etc. that was hoped for.
Comments welcome. If there are people who think there's still something there, maybe COWLZ could start up again. Maybe not.
Here's an oddity, maybe even an excuse for someone much more hip to internet code to show off their stuff.
If you've used Firefox (or, I assume, some other Mozilla/Netscape variants), you've probably noticed that some bookmark rectangles (the folded-corner page where you click, left of the name) get replaced by mini-icons when you first visit the site. Wired News turns into a little W on a red background, LISNews a big L with little IS tucked inside it, Bloglines a capital B, and so on.
I'm impressed by the creativity involved in crafting recognizable letters/pictures in the tiny number of pixels apparently available for these bookmark/icons.
Today, suddenly, it got interesting. I was asked for a publicity photo, so, naturally, went to my website to provide the exact address. And, to my considerable surprise, I now have a tiny Netscape icon (at least that's what I think it is) in place of the standard page. The same thing happened with Consumer WebWatch--but nowhere else. Including Cites & Insights.
Neither site has fancy HTML (putting it mildly). I can't imagine how the "Walt Crawford" site is picking up a Netscape icon.
And the icon seems to come and go, which is even stranger.
[Yes, I do use Firefox, except for two sites that absolutely require IE.)
One of LISNews' illustrious posters, in commenting on book burning, threw in a question as to whether we supported a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.
I didn't respond there because the question was so off-topic.
I find the question interesting because, as far as I know, the only approved way to dispose of a worn-out or damaged U.S. flag is to burn it. Anything else is considered inappropriate.
So would a Constitutional amendment be phrased such that you were a criminal if it could be proved that the flag you burned was not sufficiently worn to be ready for burning, but OK if it was?
In practice, I would say that anyone who burns a flag as a form of political protest--something that's happened very rarely--is asserting that the flag has been metaphorically soiled by what they're protesting against. I might not agree--I think burning a flag is a stupid way to protest much of anything, just as I think burning books is a stupid way to protest much of anything--but there it is.
Or is this another attempt to equate love of country with love of a particular piece of cloth, and to make any form of protest that could conceivably be seen as denying that love a crime?
As a result of an earlier ill-written journal entry, I have added a couple of blogs to my Bloglines account, and have found the results interesting. Thanks to those who suggested them.
I haven't added any LISNews journals because I come directly to LISNews, and check recent postings directly here. Not to start another argument, but I have to say that I find most of the journal entries of mdoneil, ChuckB, Bibliofuture, and kctipton--THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST!--thoughtful and thought-provoking. (Yes, there are others, but those four come immediately to mind.)
For that matter, I'm getting rid of my "foe" flags in all but one case (and that one has absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with obsession--the "foe" now posts anonymously-but-transparently anyway). Heck, I read the comments anyway, and conclude that pre-labeling the posters is not a way to keep a semi-open mind.
Sorry about that, Blake. Seems to me there are at least 20 journals here more interesting than my infrequent, erratic posts... but who am I to argue with results?
I figure people check to see whether I'll succeed in starting yet another "controversy" through use of even sloppier language and thinking than in Cites & Insights. And by the time they find out that I haven't started another flamewar, it's too late.
I'm back in the moderately-warm, low-humidity Silicon Valley. I might have comments about programs and encounters at ALA Annual later (here or elsewhere), or I might not. Meanwhile, a quick personal note about the site.
No disrespect to south Floridians, but blecch. At least as an ALA site. I was expecting the heat (which I like) and the humidity (which, combined with the heat, left me feeling 80 years old after ten minutes outside). Those I could deal with.
I wasn't expecting the sheer distances, pedestrian hostility, and general inconvenience of getting from one place to another--and the lack of anything like a "downtown core" in the whole conference area.
I think the conference arrangements people did the best they could with shuttles, and Gale must have spent a fortune on the busses, what with nine different routes. But at most conferences, you don't need shuttles for most programs if you're willing to walk 15-20 minutes. Here--well, unless the session was in the CC or at the Peabody, Rosen Centre, or Rosen Plaza (and you could remember which Rosen was which), you were in trouble.
I wound up doing a geosliced schedule: Except for mandatory events, I dropped those that weren't at one of those four sites. The same thing happened with Miami/Miami Beach. I don't think Orlando was quite as inconvenient as Miami. But it sure wasn't convenient--and, until last weekend, I'd never thought about the extent to which most ALA sites (Midwinter and Annual alike) really are fairly pedestrian-friendly.
That being said, it was a worthwhile conference. I missed the big social events (Scholarship Bash, both the F911 showing and the new Disney "everything's wonderful in America" movie showing that nobody mentions, but that was well-publicized and actually free, etc.) but managed all of the exhibits, some receptions, the program I was part of, and two or three other programmatic sessions. And, as usual, ran into a few hundred friends and acquaintances I only see twice a year.
One other thing: I don't get targeted ALA exhibitor mailings since I'm not a likely buyer (not being in a library, and all that). But I got more exhibitor mailings this year than I can remember in the past decade or more--seemed like half our mail on some days was postcards and flyers for ALA exhibitors. Unfortunately, half a dozen of them arrived way too late to do any good--including two that arrived yesterday!
I'm sure someone will find this controversial, but here goes anyway.
The land hereabouts used to be orchards. While it's pretty much all housing (7,000sf lots typical) now, and absurdly expensive, the land itself is still high-quality. Not as good as where I grew up, maybe, but good.
We haven't planted trees (we've only been in this house for six years), but when we got here, there was one Meyer lemon tree in the back yard--and, across the back fence, an apricot tree with lots of limbs overhanging our yard. We don't use pesticides or much of anything else; we know our neighbors-to-the-back don't either.
For the last couple of years, we've been supplying work with Meyer lemons during prime ripening season--picking, rinsing, and bringing in 50-90 lemons a week for five-eight weeks. (We keep a few for our own use, but neither of us use lemons much.) If you don't know Meyer lemons--well, they're the big, relatively sweet, highly flavorful lemons that make supermarket lemons look and taste like travesties. Unfortunately, they don't ship well, and when you do see them in markets, they're likely to cost $1 each or more. (High-class restaurants love them for desserts, where the pies, tarts, etc. are always identified as Meyer lemon whatever.) In our microclimate, parts of Mountain View and Los Altos, it's notoriously true that one established Meyer lemon tree will produce hundreds, maybe more than a thousand, high-quality lemons.
More directly to the non-point, this year our neighbor's apricot tree was highly productive, and my wife's been picking some of the apricots on our side of the fence (observing that the neighbor just lets them fall). I've been having two with breakfast each morning this week.
Fresh apricots--ripe apricots, off the tree--are one of the greatest fruits around. As far as I know, it's just not possible to buy decent apricots in a store: To ship at all, they have to be picked too green, and never ripen properly. I grew up with fresh apricots (in Modesto, you grow up with fresh everything!), and I'd just given up on eating them... until this week.
Makes it hard to fly to Orlando, missing not only a few days of wonderful apricots but the return of Bing cherries (another guilty pleasure, but one that does ship).
Good grief. I apologize profoundly for the previous journal entry. I should really know better.
Although it has been educational. Greater minds than mine have told me:
What I know and don't know, e.g., about who has weblogs (They're psychic!) (And they presumably know which weblogs I already do and don't read.)
What matters and what's irrelevant.
That I don't know much about conservatives.
Guess I'll just go on my ignorant way. Albeit with one weblog added to my aggregator.
Rory: I am not suggesting any change in LISNews policy. This post has nothing to do with LISNews.
If people have thoughtful conservative-librarian weblogs to suggest, I'll add them to my personal Bloglines list, nothing to do with LISNews or anyone else, at least for a while.
"Thoughtful" equals, at a minimum:
Being able to differentiate between liberal and socialist
Being able to distinguish between the commons and socialism
Being able to distinguish constitutional conservatives from neocons.
This isn't a hypothetical. There are (in my opinion) a fair number of thoughtful conservative comments at LISNews, along with some that don't deserve the adjective. I wouldn't mind keeping track of what some of the former have to say on their own sites.
So you'll see in the stories (assuming someone else approves it--I may have "author" status but I won't approve my own postings on C&I) that the promised pre-Annual Conference Cites & Insights (July 2004, volume 4, issue 9) is out, actually three days earlier than the planned June 21 pub date.
That's 11 days after the special Mid-June issue.
How can I square this with previous journal entries about being overrun by real-world events?
Not really--but sort of. The family matters did chew up one weekend and a fair amount of other time--but they also got me into a mode of fitting C&I work into spare hours here and there. I pushed to make sure I'd have time to get things done.
Then two other things--maybe, actually, one other thing--happened. After the tooth came out, I haven't had the "sinusy" headaches--and, in the week that's followed, several sections came together a lot faster than I'd expected.
I'm sure the editing is as atrocious as usual, for which I apologize: It really is hard to edit your own stuff.
Now, back to "paid projects" before and after ALA. I'm targeting the August issue for late July, no earlier than July 23. Given that some themes should slow down during the summer, I think that's reasonable--but there are always surprises.
Last time ALA Annual was in New Orleans, someone at headquarters did a smart thing: They suggested, through a variety of means, that we all dress down for the occasion--shuck those coats & ties in the heat and humidity of the Big Easy.
It worked pretty well. Of course, some folks would never be seen at a conference in less than a three-piece suit and perfectly coordinated tie & shirt, and some exhibitors would be violating sacred dress codes to even consider such a thing, but for some of us (who don't wear coats & ties at work, but usually do when at a conference), it was liberating.
I haven't seen any such effort for Orlando. It's going to be hot and humid there, too--probably a little hotter than Nawlins, from what I'm seeing.
Last time I spoke at Florida Library Association, in Orlando, they not only discouraged overdressing, they had the Dress Code Squad: Wear a tie, pay a buck to their scholarship fund. (I had some fun with it at the opening keynote--started out the talk in a proper coat & tie, was interrupted by a whistle blast from the Dress Squad, paid the buck, then peeled off the coat, tie, and dress shirt, continuing the keynote in the tropical shirt underneath. And, of course, wore tropical shirts for the rest of the conference.)
So, since nobody's done it formally, I'm doing it informally, at least for some of us:
Open collars in Orlando!
I'm not even taking ties. Short-sleeved shirts, tropical shirts, whatever: That's the ticket.
Sometimes the vicissitudes of real life intrude more than you'd like--but that's what makes it real.
Last week was pretty much a washout because of such vicissitudes--and, looking back, I think the last few weeks have been affected.
That latter first: I had a tooth extracted last Thursday afternoon, and should have had that done a month or more ago. (My dentist said to set it up when I returned from a speaking trip; that was in March.) Constant headaches/sinus problems the last few weeks finally got me to call; after I made the appointment, naturally, they got worse. So if I've been blunter and even less coherent than usual the past few weeks, there's an excuse. (Now, how that resulted in the "Catching Up on Copyright" issue of Cites & Insights, which has gotten kind comments, is one of those mysteries...and, actually, I was more productive than usual at work...until last week.)
Last week added a second flavor: A death in the family. Not unexpected, not tragic, but nonetheless involving three lost days last week--one of them, the most exhausting, the day after the tooth extraction. (The surgery may go well, but it still takes a lot out of you!)
Things begin to return to what passes for normal around here. Prepping for ALA becomes a bit more urgent. Keeping up with massive changes hereabouts is strange. Such is, well, life.
Relevance to LISNews: Minimal, except for any blunter-than-usual comments I've left. None of which I'm likely to withdraw or apologize for.