Returning

It’s been a long time since I last posted. I’ve been off earning my PhD in Library Science. Some people might be able to continue blogging while earning a PhD, but I’m not that energetic!

I focused on school libraries and youth services in my research and classwork. This blog will focus on issues of library services to youth and the underserved. I’ll also look at technology and new media in connection with how it shapes library work with and by youth.

This semester, I’m teaching Youth Services and Internet Reference, so it’s likely most of my posts will be related to those two topics.

Blogging ALA

I said yesterday that I would be blogging ALISE and Midwinter (live-blogging will depend on whether I have an electrical outlet handy, since my computer has a battery life of less than an hour.) Shortly after I posted that, I got an e-mail from ALA about how they’re enabling bloggers. I can even get a blogging badge! I’m not sure what the purpose of that is, but it sounds neat. I joined ALA’s Midwinter Flickr group, so I will be posting some of my pictures there. I’ll also be posting other pictures on my own account so my family can see what I’m up to.

I love technology!

Commenting

John at Library Clips posted a link to CoComment, a way to track your comments on other sites. So, I signed up. There is a box on my sidebar that might eventually get filled with comments. I’ve been using Furl to track my comments, but that’s not the intent of Furl. I hope this works better. It might be a good start as far as bringing conversation back to blogging.

Blogs and Discourse

Are blogs really good for two-way communication? I’m starting to suspect no.

I belong to a forum of people who have only one thing in common. We represent a wide range of political beliefs, religious beliefs, ethnicities, and gender identities. Somehow, on this forum, we are able to have real discussions, including disagreements. People still generally respect each other while engaging in dialogue.

I used to blog a long time ago, when Blogger was still brand new. It seems that people were willing to disagree with each other, while respecting each other’s rights to have an opinion. Two things changed the whole environment. The 2000 election and September 11 and its aftermath. (Some might argue the Iraq invasion, but the shift started long before that, I believe.) I quit blogging a few months after September 11 because of the hostile atmosphere.

I don’t see discourse any more in blogs. With a few exceptions, the blogs I have come across tend to have commenters who always agree with the main post. Commenters who do not agree are ignored, dismissed, or treated as if they’re attacking the original poster. (Ignored is more common.) That’s if a person who disagrees even bothers to post a comment. There seems to be an intolerance for people with different opinions and priorities.

Is it the medium that leads to this kind of environment? Much like how Power Point is often blamed for poor presentations? Or is it people who like to pontificate and be agreed with are drawn to blogging? Or am I altogether wrong?

How does this seeming lack of tolerance for differing opinions and priorities translate to real-life librarian work? Again, how does it represent our profession? If a non-librarian were to come across some of our posts, what would he or she think of librarians? Librarians are, of course, people, entitled to their own opinions. But we also represent a profession, one that people are increasingly finding to be irrelevant (whether true or not, the perception matters.) If we are presenting an image that makes some people uncomfortable with “asking a librarian,” what does that do to us?

Can blogs be used for true two-way communication?

Blogging

My professor brought up an interesting point in class yesterday.  He was talking about librarians who blog (as librarians, rather than as bloggers who happen to be librarians) and mentioned that they are representing the profession to others.  It’s an interesting thing to think about.  When a non-librarian reads a librarian blog, what are they learning about the profession?  The point came up when we were talking about bloggers who discuss their patrons in ways that could be considered unethical.

Then he mentioned that if we have a blog, future employers will find it.

The biggest thing I do wrong on this blog is that I don’t update it enough.  And I would not work in a place where just having a blog would keep one from being employed.  But it is a point that cannot be repeated enough.  Everything we put online is available to anyone, so we need to make sure it represents us honestly.

Meta

Again with the metablogging.  Word Press just refused to recognize my password.  I upgraded, and voila, there it was again.

Sometimes, notepad and FTP just seem like such attractive options for updating.

Organization

I’ve been spending the day organizing my online life and trying to get through the 19,000 unread email messages in my Outlook. (I subscribe to some high-volume email lists and keep the messages for searching purposes, so I end up with a lot of unread messages. And I still haven’t subscribed to the YALSA and AASL lists.) I realized I hadn’t updated at LISNews since last October– before my MoLib presentation! I rectified that with a quick post. And I added their feed to my bloglines.

I’m also setting up Firefox to open a folder instead of just one link as a homepage. This will remind me to check certain pages every day, and to update my blogs. I would love to find a program, desktop or web-based, that would give me a single blog entry page with a pull-down menu of all of my blogs. I suppose with the APIs of my blog software, I could probably eventually make my own, but I’d rather find one done by someone who knows what s/he’s doing.

Well, back to it. I still have some Gramsci to read and I need to work on a take-home midterm. It’s just so nice to be home for once on a Sunday afternoon.

Change

I finally changed to word press. I was just really tired of the nonsense with movable type. Comments are still restricted, but now, after you comment once, the rest of the comments are automatically accepted. I hope this doesn’t change anyone’s feed subscriptions!
ARGH!  I lost my comments!  Grr.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving or a happy Thursday! I got caught back up in school and haven’t been able to finish my write-ups. I might be able to do them this weekend and post them next week.