July 17, 2007

Blog- or Print Publishing?

Which is better in library-land (or scientific-land), blogging or print publishing?

I seem to remember that Jim Rettig, vice-president/president-elect of ALA, wondered in a campaign statement if librarians were blogging or writing in the print library literature? [note to self: the fact that YOU can't find this statement by Rettig should serve to keep you humble when you try to help patrons who don't remember where / when they read something. but we digress]

Stephen Abram said, when I slobbered over how much I love his Stephen's Lighthouse blog at ALA, (and I paraphrase): "It doesn't matter where you write, just get your ideas out there."

In an interview with Ken Auletta at the The New Yorker Conference The Web: 2012 in May, the Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington said that in the future, there would be blogs like the Huffington Post and New Yorker style writing and not much in between. That is, short bits of (accurate) information online and longer, more analytical, background-y pieces in print.

All of which I agree with -- even tho' some bits contradict other bits.

What I wonder is ... does it matter that librarians are writing more on blogs than in print? That by the time our ideas are in print, they are almost old news? Who is the audience for print library literature, anyway? Is it those of us in the biblioblogosphere? Is it those of us who want more detail than our old eyes can read online? Is it those of us who don't read library blogs but need (arguably) to keep up with what the young'uns (and I mean young-at-heart, creative, if you will, rather than age-young) are thinking and doing?

Why would I write something thoughtful on my blog rather than try to get an essay published? Hmmm. First of all ... timing. I can write here and 30-40 people a day will hit my blog -- a mix of librarians & non-librarians. Quickly. Immediately.

Another reason: I control the writing. Good & bad -- I've had some good editors who have helped me shape my writing and make it substantially better. I've also seen published articles in that could have used a good deal more editorial intervention.

Which reminds me of what Chris Anderson said in an IT Conversation with Moira Gunn: in between writing his Wired article on the Long Tail and his book of the same name, he blogged. Wrote up his ideas, got feedback from readers, revised his thinking and writing, got more ideas from readers, retweaked his own writing, and ... his book was better for it. According to him, anyway.

Of course, if you're going up for any kind of peer-review promotion, you need to publish in peer-reviewed journals. At least, that's the old way.

What's the new way? I don't know... only that I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'd like to hear from you on this, either on the blog or by email. Even better if we can get a conversation going on the topic from librarians, future librarians, and other kinds of folks, academics, interested parties, etc.

Blog on!


waltc said...

Arggh. I have an essay for the August Cites & Insights on this very topic (sort of), just needing final revision, and now I have to see whether to fit your thoughtful post in. Thanks, I guess. Well, yes, thanks: You ask good questions. Watch C&I for one partial response.

Anonymous said...

I think that each method has its own pros and cons, some of which you already mentioned. Blogging, as you say, allows you to reach certain people in a timely fashion. If I'm looking for articles about a certain topic, however, I'm more likely to search in a journal database instead of searching the blogosphere for past posts so that's something positive for the print side. Of course, that's just me. Others may do just the opposite, but I think that this brings up a good point: value is frequently in the eye of the beholder. If one were to write an excellent article, but nobody read it because it was in a format that the intended audience didn't use, then is the article any less valuable? I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet that we won't find a rock solid answer anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

See my comments at Twilight Librarian: http://tinyurl.com/3b598m

CogSciLibrarian said...

Jim's comments are at http://keillor.richmond.edu/blojsom/blog/jrettig/blogs+and+blogging/?permalink=Differences-between-blogs-and-journals.html

Anonymous said...

I agree with the author of this article. Printing publishing is becoming a thing of the past as more and more people use information technology tools to communicate. Print publishing takes a long time such that by the time it gets out the information may be obsolete.
Printing costs are higher than posting on blogs.
There is larger distribution of the material than through print.
We are having more e-journals an indication that this may replace print journals all together.
The advantages of print is that material can be preserved for a long time but with digital material-- the storage and retrieval technology may become obsolete rendering the information useless because it can't be retrieved.
People living in areas where information technology is not readily available may still need print materials.