A couple of months back I had a conversation with a colleague about encouraging our students to get embedded in the social media spaces many of us use as professionals. I’m thinking specifically of using Twitter, and getting our students to take that on as a space where they can connect with other professionals. I’ve realised it’s getting to be a harder sell, and I think the changing shape of the LIS blogosphere is part of the reason the benefits are harder to promote these days.
The fact my own use of Twitter has dramatically decreased doesn’t help. I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve opened the Twitter app on my phone in the last month. Actually I could count them on one finger. I was a really big tweeter. A while back I deleted about 11,000 tweets to clear public references to kids’ names before I made my account public. I’m still sitting at a pretty respectable / scary number of total tweets.
But I’m just not using Twitter that much anymore. Partly, this is because I have picked up Instagram in a pretty big way, and this is the space where I feel most at home. I’ve got a great network there, I’m comfortable posting about the kids because my account is private, and I share and document details of my life there.
I think it’s also partly a product of the fact I am not tweeting, retweeting or commenting on content related to the library and information professions, or more particularly, that I don’t feel compelled to tweet, retweet or comment on content related to the library and information professions. And the reason I’m not doing these things is because there is much, much less of it floating around.
There just aren’t that many good, active Australian library blogs out there anymore (and there’s much less from overseas too).
I think the impact of less blogging means there is much less critical commentary on professional issues happening on the web, and the community that formed around the blogs where this stuff happened has, to a certain extent, dissipated.
I think this is the missing link. I think this is why it’s gotten harder to sell Twitter to new professionals. There’s quite a lot that can’t be said in 144 characters, and people used to say the lengthier, meatier stuff on their blogs. But that just doesn’t seem to be happening anymore.
During Library and Information Week, Kim Tairi posted a drawing on Instagram of a super-person wearing the badge ‘LOL’, for League of Librarians. This struck a chord because I’d been thinking about the idea of returning to collaborative blogging in the wake of Thing 1 and the phrase ‘League of Librarians’ prompted me to spew out a massive comment on Kim’s pic:
I have been thinking lately that we’re not doing the in depth, critical commentary on professional issues that we used to see when lots of the thought leaders in LIS in Australia were in their blogging prime. I’ve been (selfishly!) thinking about it in terms of what my students are missing out on. I’ve also been thinking about who those thought leaders were and where they are in their careers now and wondering if the rise and rise of these guys up the career ladder has meant there’s just no time for blogging, or whether everyone has just moved on. I still love reading non library blogs, but the biblioblogosphere doesn’t get me excited anymore. I’ve been wondering whether a bunch of people putting their heads together might be able to sustain a group blog. Like LINT, but a broader group, new faces, new space, revised approach. A focus on regular posts, critical discourse and conversation (rather than volume or frequent posts or newsy stuff). Editorial team and calendar to guide posting. Some thought put into a schedule and planning before it starts. League of Librarians could be the perfect name! What do you think? Is this crazy talk? I know everyone is busy but I just feel like we’ve lost some important voices and we’re missing out on new voices who either haven’t gone it alone or are struggling to maintain a solo blog.
Not long after, Kathryn Greenhill emailed the LINT crew to see if any of us were interested in doing something with LINT during #blogjune, and I felt like the universe was telling me something. So I raised this idea of bringing LINT back and shared my thoughts around the lack of professional discourse. We had a conversation about blogging, whether it’s dead, whether we’re now a bunch of old fogies remembering the good old days, and whether our blogging died off because there was nothing exciting to blog about. Our opinions, of course, vary, but we did agree to kick off a conversation about blogging and see where it takes us.
Here’s the thing: I miss the extended critical discourse about professional issues, because we need robust discourse to move the profession forward. I miss the insights of people like Kathryn Greenhill and Peta Hopkins. I miss the thinking out loud I got to witness and comment on. I miss benefiting from others’ experiments. I miss the debate and the argy bargy. I miss the ready supply of fresh new content to share with my students. I miss the community that formed around these blogs.
I feel like I’m missing out. My students are missing out. The profession is missing out. I feel like we’re *missing something*.
So I want to pose some questions: Where are the thinkers and tinkerers hanging out? Where are they sharing about what they’re doing? Am I just missing the good stuff? Is this extended professional discourse happening and I’m just not seeing it?
And more: Is blogging dead? Is there just nothing to write about? Am I overthinking this? Does anyone even care?
And still more: Is there a need for more professional discourse on blogs? If so, how can we nurture that?
Is the answer collaborative blogging? Should we kick off LINT again? If so, what form should it take? Who should contribute? How should it run?
Tomorrow, I’ll post some thoughts about some of these questions on my personal blog. In the mean time, you should read what LINTers Con and Snail have to say (and make sure you catch Andrew’s comment on Snail’s post too).
And we would love to hear from you, too. Respond in the comments here, respond on your blog, respond via Twitter… Whatever works for you.