Bibs & Blather
Quick Updates: Limits and Slouching
I was about to apologize for this being an odd issue (I’d originally planned to include Trends & Quick Takes, My Back Pages, Interesting & Peculiar Products—or at least two of those three)—but that assumes facts no longer in evidence. That is, that there’s something like a “normal issue” of Cites & Insights. I think the most recent “normal issue” is November 2007.
Since I’m as proud of the last six issues as of most earlier ones, I’m beginning to think “normal issue” has as much meaning as say, “average blog.” Meanwhile, this one includes three perspectives on very different topics and the second Retrospective—and I think the Retrospectives are worth reading (I found them worth assembling). If nothing else, you can satisfy yourself that I’m not among the hallowed circle of Those Who Are Never Wrong. Not even close! That’s just as well. I find that people who are never wrong drive me up the wall, and I’d like to stay reasonably comfortable in my own skin.
Meanwhile, before we get to the big fat essays, I wanted to point to one earlier essay that might deserve revisiting in the near future—and add a little content to an essay from the May issue.
The trailing Perspective in Cites & Insights 8:1 (January 2008). I recommend it. Maybe I should expand on it, bringing in more issues and relating it to library issues. Some day…maybe.
Last issue’s Making it Work Perspective: Changes in Liblogs: Slouching Toward a Study offered up some numbers developed while I was doing preliminary work that might—or might not—lead to a truly broad view of liblogs. The less said about the length of the title, the better…
The preliminary work is complete—and I did do a little more after writing that essay. I still haven’t made any decisions about “the real project,” and I won’t until at least June 8. In the meantime:
Ø I did March-May 2007 tracking for the rest of the blogs, those that hadn’t been studied in 2005 or 2006. The baseline is complete.
Ø I decided to broaden the universe a little more—by looking at blogrolls within liblogs already in the sample. To avoid complete craziness, I narrowed “looking at blogrolls” somewhat. I only looked at blogrolls on a blog’s front page (not blogrolls from links), “plausible” blogrolls—those with a few or a few dozen blogs, not those with seemingly hundreds, and blogrolls or sections of blogrolls where there seemed to be some evidence of a library focus.
Ø Given those restrictions, I wound up going through slightly more than a hundred blogrolls in the first half of May 2008, with these results:
Ø I added 47 more blogs to the list, which now totals 585 blogs.
Ø I looked at more than 80 others, of which at least 21 were “essentially invisible,”, at least 42 were defunct or moribund (there were no posts in 2008 or at least no posts in March or April, meaning they wouldn’t qualify), at least four were official library blogs (and that wasn’t obvious from the name—there were dozens I didn’t need to check), at least 15 weren’t library-related (and that wasn’t obvious from the name), and at least four were too new (founded in 2008). I eliminated two more, one because of excessive objectionable language, another because it had an automatic soundtrack that started as soon as I hit the blog.
Ø While I could carry this further, I believe diminishing returns have set in. I’m certainly grateful that a little quick sorting and formatting made it possible to print all 538 blog names (before additions) on a single sheet of paper (two sides, three columns, very small type)—after all, I probably glanced at several thousand blognames during that process.
Here’s the baseline for any new project:
Ø The date distribution for liblogs is now 11 before 2002, 24 in 2002, 74 in 2003, 85 in 2004, 159 in 2005, 137 in 2006, and 95 in 2007—the same curve as before, moved slightly to the right. Of those begun in 2007, 48 began in May or later, so I didn’t calculate baseline statistics (a blog had to start at least by April 2007 to include March-May posts). That means the maximum for any 2007 analysis is 537: 585 minus 48.
Ø Further 2007 and year-to-year analysis will be based on at most 491 blogs for post count (46 others were either defunct, had no posts during the period or had inaccessible archives); 412 blogs for length of posts (79 had partly-hidden posts in archives or some other problem, e.g., inability to copy more than one post at a time); 443 blogs for number of comments (48 didn’t allow comments or comment counts appeared to be hidden—of those, I believe 28 didn’t allow comments); and 429 blogs for number of illustrations (there were a few cases where I couldn’t calculate length but I could see complete posts and count figures).
Here’s my three-way choice for proceeding:
Ø Least work: With no more investigation I could produce a C&I article or a series of posts detailing the 2007 metrics and listing outstanding blogs.
Ø Some work: I could do the metrics for 2008 and produce a much longer article (or series of articles) discussing changes from 2007 and metrics for both years—but, again, without any discussion of individual blogs.
Ø Lots of work: Full-fledged metrics in considerably more detail, commentary (objective and maybe subjective) on each blog, and an index—produced as a book.
I’ll do one of the three. Which? Your advice is still welcome—and now, thanks to a change at Walt at random, I can give you a meaningful URL for the post where you can add your comments (or you can email them to me at email@example.com, preferably by June 8): walt.lishost.org/2008/03/a-really-big-look-at-liblogs-good-idea-or-waste-of-time/
Your frank opinions welcome, but keep the language reasonably polite.
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