TagBiblioblogosphere

Come Down and Play Around

One of the best things about the old biblioblogosphere… a term I will continue to use even though, or especially because, it probably annoys people. See also: webinar.

Ahem.

One of the best things about the old biblioblogosphere was when one librarian wrote a post, then another librarian picked up on that post and expanded it, and then another librarian took the idea into another direction. It wasn’t that we all felt we needed to have our own take on a topic (although sometimes it could feel that way). We were just inspired by each other and that inspiration lead to an interesting kind of collaboration.

The rise of social media platforms changed the way we interacted with each other. In theory, social media made conversations more linear and compact, but in practice it took away from the way we expanded on and cultivated our thoughts through our blogs.

It made sense for us to set up shops in social media. In “Back to the Blog,” Dan Cohen writes, “Human beings are social animals and centralized social media like Twitter and Facebook provide a powerful sense of ambient humanity—the feeling that ‘others are here’—that is often missing when one writes on one’s own site.”

Meredith Farkas writes about what we gave up to join those centralized platforms in her post “We are atomized. We are monetized. We are ephemera. Do we deserve more online?

What was most frustrating about blogs was the distributed nature of the conversation, but moving to a centralized space destroyed the close sense of community, at least for me. In the move from blogs to the centralized ecosystem, what we gained in the ease of connection and the quantity of connections we lost in quality of those connections.

Kathryn Greenhill echoes the sentiment in “Ten years after Peak Biblioblogging.”

I think this move away from our self-hosted blogging platforms, as much as us all moving on to other responsibilities and interests, eroded that daily “I will post in my blog or comment on three others this morning because if I do then this great conversation and growth of knowledge and ideas will keep going.”

To be fair, we were able to create a vibrant community on particular social media services. Kathryn alludes to Meebo, which along with FriendFeed was part of the epicenter of that community. (If you’re not familiar with either, I describe them both briefly in “A Post About Slack That Isn’t Really About Slack.”) But that meant we ceded control of our conversations and our ideas to entities that would shut down our spaces as soon as it was no longer viable to keep them going. Moving to other social media platforms doesn’t really solve the problem. As Meredith puts it, “We’re also giving ourselves — or at least our digital representations and content — to companies that don’t protect us in any meaningful way (from others or themselves).”

Fiona Bradley expands on this in “What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?

I posted about some of the reasons why I restarted this blog a couple of months back (with a note about some life changes). A sense of ownership and control over my identity is among them. I had the opportunity to work on policy and advocacy around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before leaving the UK, which made me keenly aware of the ways in which many companies did not give us choices about what they collect and how, until they were forced to.

Taking all that into consideration, I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that a lot of us almost simultaneously started to think about this topic and started to blog about it. To wit: Chad Boeninger notes that he began working on his post “Is this thing on?” before Meredith published her post.

Also, I spent four days trying to come up with a summary of what I am writing about here and Chad just nails it when he writes:

Possibly related to my recent interest in writing again is social media has got me down lately. There’s lots of sharing but not much caring.  I’ve always liked the sharing aspect of blogging.

So I am giddy that folks like Fiona, Tara Murray, and Morgan Wilson restarted their blogs this year after long hiatuses. “These days, a librarian type blog which is active and has posted within the last year or so is kind of special,” Morgan says in “Return of the Blog Roll.”

But I think the time is right for more library blogs to come back or start up. In “Library blogs reach mid-career,” Tara writes, “It seems many of us are about the same age and are struggling with the same kinds of issues.” A long Twitter thread or a detailed Facebook post just doesn’t seem to be the right place for us to work out those issues and “Like” buttons aren’t enough to fully express our solidarity.

You Wonder Where You Are

Why, hello there!

It’s taken me a while to get back into the swing of things since last I posted. I traveled to a workshop for work and then got home just in time for Eurovision to properly kick off.

My wife and I write a lot for our blog during the days leading up to Eurovision. I originally planned to keep writing for this website as well, but realized very quickly how unrealistic that idea was. I do not think about anything else but the Song Contest when I am not at work or child-rearing. And even child-rearing has become more about Eurovision now that our son is old enough to have strong opinions about it.

I had planned to write about my experiences at the workshop, but I am still trying to strike a balance between what I think is awesome or interesting or challenging about my job and what will be of interest to people who aren’t me. The workshop was a lot of fun, but so much of it is tied to minutiae related to my place of work that I struggle to make it broadly applicable.

This is part of the reason why I often find myself struggling to maintain a library science-related blog. I get stuck on trying to make my work experiences feel universal and then shut down when I can’t do it. So my task is to figure out how to get out neutral and move forward. It’s all apart of my broader need to get out of my own head, I guess.

Until then…

The Future Fades Away Too Fast

Did I just spend the better part of a week building a blogroll?

Yes. Yes I did.

I was feeling nostalgic for the days when librarian blogs were the newest in new, especially after reading Meredith Farkas’ terrific post, “Wayfinding and balance at mid-career.” It’s the type of thoughtful writing that blogs are made for. I risk sounding like an old fogey here, but a Twitter thread wouldn’t have done the subject justice.

My nostalgia was fueled further by reading “Small b blogging” by Tom Critchlow:

I think most people would be better served by subscribing to small b blogging. What you want is something with YOUR personality. Writing and ideas that are addressable (i.e. you can find and link to them easily in the future) and archived (i.e. you have a list of things you’ve written all in one place rather than spread across publications and URLs) and memorable (i.e. has your own design, logo or style). Writing that can live and breathe in small networks. Scale be damned.

Librarian blogs never were what he calls “big B blogging,” the type of blogs whose posts would populate Digg’s front page. Even if we sometimes made a splash on a site like Metafilter, we were always writing for a niche audience. You know, librarian blog people.

I lament that an era has passed where something like the Carnival of the Infosciences could thrive. More often than not, the blogs featured in the Carnival archives are either gone or long dormant. Hell, I contributed to the detritus myself.

So I hope that Critchlow is right and small b blogging is the wave of the future. Then the conditions would be right for the biblioblogosphere to grow again. Maybe I’m an old, sentimental fool, but I’ve got to keep writing just in case.

Promise Me No Promises

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I shouldn’t write mission statements or apologies or anything when I inevitably try to revive my blog. I’ve got years of broken promises cluttering up my website.

I am aware that I am 44 words into my first blog post in just over six months and I am already drowning in self-loathing. It’s a thing that I do.

The thing is, this week is LIS Mental Health Week, and that is what inspired me to pick up the blog up again. I am working on managing my anxiety, so I would like to share a checklist that I devised to help me out.

  • Determine and prioritize goals
  • Block out time in a calendar to work on tasks
  • Make a daily mood check to assess how I am feeling
  • Write a daily diary entries or other forms of writing (blog posts, poems, etc.)
  • Do something enjoyable
  • Beware of the drink when stressed or depressed
  • No devices at bedtime
  • Deep breathing when struggling to fall asleep
  • Doodle more
  • Separate what you can control from what you cannot control

It’s not perfect and I am not perfect at sticking to it. (Boy, do I ignore that “no devices at bedtime” suggestion.) But frequently re-reading the list has been helping me get through my daily grind.

I have also taken to heart something I read by Tammi Kollinger on the Bullet Journal blog: “Humans are messy and make mistakes.” In my mind, it is a corollary of the Cult of Done Manifesto. I should tape it to the wall and re-read it every time my creative destruction tendencies creep up again.

Where Do I Begin?

Here is as clear a mission statement for this blog as you are going to get:

This blog will explore how librarians use data to understand audiences and improve services.

What does that specifically mean? I don’t know. We’ll see.

To start, I’ve written brief summaries of a few articles and reports that have been influential in my work over the past six months or so.

Pip Christie. “Are Librarians Becoming Data Analysts?Vable (2016).

Christie points to potential opportunities librarians have to market themselves as data analysts and discusses ways to use data analysis tools to one’s advantage. Useful from the perspective of identifying ways librarians can put their skills to use in new ways.

Mahesh Kelkar, et al. “Data-driven Decision Making In Government.” Deloitte Center for Government Insights (2016).

A team from Deloitte Center for Government Insights describes best practices in U.S. government data-driven decision-making and outlines techniques government offices can use to improve their analytics capabilities. Really nice report that offers a thoughtful road map for building program evaluation capacity.

Bill Pardi. “If You Want to Be Creative, Don’t Be Data Driven.” Microsoft Design (2017).

Pardi discusses potential problems with being too reliant on data to drive decision-making. Reminiscent of Darrell Huff’s “How to Lie with Statistics.”

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