Is this thing on?

a microphone at a podium in front of a classroom of students

I just published this blog post.  And it felt great.  There’s just something about logging into my WordPress installation, typing up my own words, and publishing on a site that is mine.  (after doing numerous updates of course).  I get the feeling a few times a year, often in the summer or at the New Year for some reason, to post something.  Each time, I think it would be awesome to take up regular blogging again.  Pretty much every time I post a few things, then the blog goes dormant for several months.

I miss blogging.  Back when I first started this blog, there was no Twitter and Facebook was still limited to people with a .edu email address.  Blogging was the social media that connected me with peers in my profession around the planet.  It was awesome to see when others linked to something that you posted or commented on your site.  It was awesome to play with the A-list bloggers, and equally as incredible to discover a newcomer to the blogosphere.  We were a community. I made new friends.

Like many of my blogging peers, my job has changed with different and increased responsibilities from when I originally started blogging.  I’ve had more kids.  My hobbies have changed.  My free time has dwindled.

This was originally a library, tech-focused blog.  That was my niche.   I was big into wikis and instant messaging and Library 2.0 and gaming in libraries and all those buzzwords.  I’m still into that stuff, but have since climbed my way into middle management.  I’m not pushing as much new tech as I used to, and the middle management stuff isn’t something that I feel compelled (or smart enough) to write about.  Hence the lack of posts here.  My boss has told me I need to take more time to reflect and write.  Perhaps I should do that here.

They say you must have a niche these days in order for your blog to be successful. I don’t have enough content in one particular niche to continue this as just a Library-tech-teaching-focused blog.    I’ve got another blog that I haven’t touched in years.  Perhaps I will delete and merge that blog (also originally a niche) into this one.

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.  It’s rewarding to share some little bit of knowledge you’ve learned, or an experience you’ve had, or a skill you’ve practiced.  Reading that kind of content from others it what inspires me to try something new, practice harder at a hobby, or learn more about a topic of interest.  That kind of content can make the world a better place.  Maybe my content can inspire or help others in some small way.  We’ll see.

Edit:  I wrote all of this before reading Meredith’s post, in which she also ponders the good old days of blogging and community building as well as her dissatisfaction with social media.    Go read it.  And of course, just like the good old days, Meredith blows the rest of us away with her way with words.     It’s quite cool and interesting to know that others have the same thoughts about blogging.   FWIW, this is the first time I’ve linked to another library blog in years, and that feels great, too. I wonder if the old-school track-backs still work?

 

A decade of hits and future directions

Things have changed a bit in 10 years

Things have changed a bit in 10 years

On January 5, 2005, I stepped out into the blogosphere with my first post here at Library Voice.  My intention at the time was to use my blog to keep up with my professional community of librarians and technology enthusiasts, while also contributing to the conversations among those groups.  Through my work on this blog, I’ve managed to meet a bunch of great people, learn a lot, and share quite a bit as well.

With Facebook and Twitter and other social media apps, blogging has fallen by the wayside, especially in the library blogging community.  Many of us who were blogging like there was no tomorrow back in 2005- 20010 just aren’t blogging that much anymore.  We’ve decided it’s easier to participate in the community via  140 characters, pictures, or status updates.  Some would argue that the library blogosphere is largely dead.  Others have said the same about blogging in general.

My lack of blogging over the years can mostly be attributed to my professional and personal busyness, as well as changes to my roles at work.  I’ve historically blogged about the projects that I was working on at my library, but with moving into more of a management position, there’s only so much that I can really blog about.  With less library-specific content to write about, Library Voice has gone largely dormant.

My blogging slowdown has nagged me quite a bit over the years.  I’ve thought about taking the blog down, but then have also found the historical record of past projects or events very helpful.       I also know that there are topics that I still want to write about or things that I want to share that are best done in a longer-form venue.  I find there is something really awesome about putting your words to paper (albeit virtually) and hitting the publish button.  It is something that I have missed quite a bit.   It’s especially awesome when the content you publish on the open web helps someone out or gives them joy.

My most-popular posts on this blog cover a variety of topics.  While more library-focused content tends to get the most hits, I’ve found that many of the more-general topics are appreciated as well.  For some reason I used to think that if a topic couldn’t be tied back to libraries, I really didn’t need to write about it here.  I was censoring myself largely because I had a self-imposed niche for my content (largely driven by my domain name and original purpose back in 2005).  However, over the years I’ve developed multiple interests including gadgets, gaming, the great outdoors, photography, music, fitness, and much more (my wife jokes that I change hobbies every week) that fall outside of just libraries.  I also know that many of my librarian friends also share my many interests as well.  As such, I’ll be using this blog not only to continue writing about issues in my library profession, but also to share things I have learned through my other hobbies and interests.

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last 10 years, or just the last 10 minutes, I hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come.

 

This post as well as the TL;DR version below , was inspired by Jason’s Revisiting my Medium post as well as the first #blogging101 assignment.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for 10 years.  To keep this blog, and my online presence, going for the next 10 years, I’ll be branching out beyond just libraries and tech to write and share about many of my other interests including gadgets, gaming, the great outdoors, photography, music, and fitness.  I hope you’ll find what I share informative and fun.

 

Are blog comments necessary or just a pain?

Click to see my blog spam

Web Worker Daily has a post where they ask “Are Blog Comments Worth It?” I often ask the same question, particularly with the comments I get on my Business Blog.   The Business Blog is primarily aimed at the faculty and students that I work with, although I do believe most of the hits to the blog come through search engine traffic.   While the blog has a modest 150+ subscribers (again, not likely my intended audience), I don’t get many comments from those readers.   Instead, I typically get comments like the ones that appear in the image in this post.   These comments get through the spam filter because   they are submitted by a human.   As you can see from the image, most commenters don’t have anything relevant to say but are simply looking for a link back to their own blogs.   The page ranking for the Business Blog is pretty high, so others are simply trying to cash in on the high Google indexing.   Since I moderate all comments on the Business Blog, these comments tend to sit until I get a chance to delete them all without approval.   I suppose if the Business Blog received more comments that were actually relevant, this would be more of a pain to deal with. I do have a commenting policy, but have only recently linked it on the comment submission form. We’ll see if that fixes things a bit.   I have also closed comments on the Business Blog for posts older than 60 days, and that seems to have reduced the quantity of these irrelevant replies.

Here at Library Voice, comments remain open and un-moderated.   The Akismet spam filter for WordPress does a decent job at getting the really nasty stuff, and the comments with links get held for moderation automatically.   This blog doesn’t get nearly the comments as other library/tech blogs (though comments are welcome! 😉   ), so I don’t have to worry so much about spam and trolls.   I will say, too, that most of my traffic to this blog is not from the intended   library/tech audience.   The WordPress stats offer a ton of information that tells about how people found your blog, and from those stats I can tell that most visitors find the blog through Google searches.   I have a healthy number of subscribers according to Feedburner, but those numbers don’t come close to matching the search engine hits.

Since the posts on the Business Blog tend to cover things like money, finance, company and industry analysis, etc, it gets a lot more people who are trying to link back to their own site.   I guess spammers figure there’s not much money in linking off Library Voice, a blog of some dude who posts about libraries, video games, open source software, teaching, learning, and bike rides.   I’ve never thought about turning the comments to the Business Blog off, but this has got me to thinking.   I know some very well known bloggers don’t have comments enabled (Seth Godin, for example), but isn’t the purpose of a blog to share information with the potential of promoting conversation?   Are not libraries in existence to share information, promote conversation, and foster learning?   What messages would a library blog that did not allow comments send?   If you’re not getting comments from your intended audience, is it okay to turn comments off, or should you re-evaluate who your audience is or should be?   If you’ve got an answer, I’d love to hear it.   Maybe post a comment.   They’re allowed here.   😉

Business Blog reviewed by library school student

I love it when library school students stop by and chat. They usually reach me via the chat widget on the Business   Blog or via the chat widget on the Biz Wiki. The students usually have a few questions about using Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, or screencasts. Occasionally students will blog an analysis for some of the tools I’ve used, and it often gives me some good feedback on what I’m trying to do with the Business Blog and with the Biz Wiki. Library school affords you the opportunity to take a more scientific (and perhaps new) look at how things are done, so I appreciate the outsider looking in perspective.

In a recent post, Claudia analyzed the Business Blog and offered quite a few good comments. I thought I would take a few minutes to address a few of her comments at this time.   For my comments on Claudia’s awesome analysis, please see the post on my Business Blog.

Performancing is now ScribeFire

I was looking for some Firefox extensions this morning and noticed that Performancing has changed to ScribeFire.  “ScribeFire (previously Performancing for Firefox) is a full-featured
blog editor that integrates with your browser and lets you easily post
to your blog. You can drag and drop formatted text from pages you are
browsing, take notes, and post to your blog.”  Version 1.4 changes include:

  • Rebranding of Performancing for Firefox as ScribeFire
  • Improved support for Blogger accounts
  • Improved file upload support
  • Added support of the new WordPress.com API

I’ve been using Performancing since David King recommended it to me last fall at Internet Librarian.  It’s a great tool for publishing to blogs, particularly if you author or maintain quite a few different blogs.