One of the Problems with Blogs

One of the problems with blogs (or any published medium) is that the information that they disseminate is often stale almost as soon as you hit the “Publish” button.

In the blogosphere, everyone is a self-proclaimed expert, but the truth is that the accuracy and usefulness of our information can be anywhere on the spectrum from really right to really wrong.

Regardless of one’s actual expertise, practices and procedures for software often change between versions (sometimes in accordance with documentation and sometimes not), and sometimes while the basic interpretation of a writer is correct, they doesn’t completely understand the advanced concepts of the topic and write incorrect or misleading guides and commentary.

When I look back through this blog, I see some posts that contain useful information and others that could benefit from revision or possibly even removal.

Unfortunately, for those of us who don’t blog professionally, it can be extremely difficult to keep this backlog of posts up-to-date. The temptation is to mark everything as private and start fresh, but the same thing will happen again unless the content or methodology of the blog changes. Plus, you might be depriving someone of that one useful post that you did publish. So, what to do?

Well, I still want to talk about libraries and technology. I want to talk about my experiences. I want to provide others with useful information that will help them to learn how to use (library) technology.

However, I’ve found myself writing my processes and procedures in non-published short-hand documents that I go back and update as needed. These are a lot easier to re-write and maintain than a public facing prosey blog, and there is less risk of bad advice and misinterpretations being spread out to others.

So, what to do?

Well, what do librarians do?

Often, we acquire collections of resources, organize them in a coherent fashion, and present them to be discovered by information seekers.

Back when you were a grad student at library school, you also wrote a lot of annotated bibliographies. That is, lists of resources with short comments discussing the resources.

 

Going forward, I think I’m going to try to adopt this approach.

I think that I’ll categorize my posts by project, provide links to the resources I find, and possibly provide some annotations.

I’m reluctant to offer step-by-step guides, because they are the first to go out-of-date  and they’re almost never going to be as comprehensive as the official documentation. Wherever possible, I’ll lodge bug reports on issue trackers and contribute to official documentation. Perhaps this stance will be untenable and I will throw in a few step-by-step guides, but we’ll see as we go.

I don’t want to duplicate information. Rather, I want to link to useful information and provide insightful commentary.

Of course, sometimes the information isn’t there. Sometimes, you can only link to data, and you need to (attempt to) explicate the results. I think this is often the case when it comes to library standards. They can be quite inscrutable. However, I’m not (yet) an expert on library standards. I might know a lot more than a lot of other people, but there will possibly be gaps. I suppose that’s why we have expressions like “disclaimer” and “in my opinion”.

I’m not sure if I will  keep up with this blog, as the short-hand notes are much easier to create and maintain, but I hope to have something to share with those of you reading this.

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