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A Blogging Landmark – 100,000 Words and Counting

Odometer by Melissa Doroquez via Flickr

This afternoon I realized that I had passed a new landmark here on Spellbound Blog – I have published over 100,000 words! 100,208 words in 137 posts to be exact (thank you TD Word Count plugin).

Since I managed to miss my 2 year blogiversary back in July, this seems like a fine time to thank you all for sticking with me and giving me such great feedback over the past 2+ years. Since my Happy Birthday post in July of 2007, Google Analytics tells me that I have had 14,901 unique visitors to my blog from 139 different countries and territories and Feedburner tells me that I have over 400 subscribers to my RSS feed.

So, thank you everyone for giving my posts some of your precious time. Now, onward to 200,000 words!

Image Credit: 100,000 Miles by Melissa Doroquez via Flickr.

BlogDay2007: Five New Blogs for Your Consideration

Blog Day 2007 I am taking a moment out of the flurry that is SAA2007 to list five blogs I enjoy to celebrate BlogDay2007:

ResearchBuzz posts about internet research. It touches on databases, search engines and all sorts of ways to find information online. I believe that reaching out to the online research community is a huge opportunity for archives. ResearchBuzz is one way I stay connected with what that world is thinking about.

Available Online is about digitization (or rather digitisation as it is spelled in the UK). It is a creation of Alastair Dunning, the Programme Manager for the JISC Digitisation Programme.

A Beautiful WWW focuses on a neat cross section of information visualization, research, web programming and data mining.

Mashable is a popular blog on Web 2.0 and social networks. This one is very high volume, but if you have been feeling out of the loop on all the latest Web 2.0 developments – this is a great blog to add to your RSS reader and skim through for items of interest.

StorageSwitched! is the blog of the CEO of StorageSwitch. I like this blog because it gives me a view into the hardware world of storing data on disk – but also ponders everything from using your empty disk drives space to pondering preservation efforts.

To see other lists of fabulous blogs, take a look at all the BlogDay2007 posts on Technorati.

I hope you enjoy discovering some new blogs today.. and now back to our regularly scheduled SAA 2007 programming!

Happy Birthday Spellbound Blog

One year ago, when I posted my Introduction post on July 19th of 2006, I had taken only 3 courses towards my MLS degree. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about.. or how often. I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in my posts. I was about a month away from standing in front of my poster at SAA passing out home-made cards with the name of this blog on them (and my blog URL scribbled on scraps of paper when I ran out of the cards). I posted summaries of many of the sessions I attended, but we never really reached critical mass with bloggers at the SAA 2006 conference in DC.

One year later and I have written 45,028 words in 72 posts (special thanks to the TD Word Count plugin for easy access to those stats). I have completed 7 out of the 12 courses required for my MLS. I am on a panel at the SAA conference in Chicago. I have shiny new cards to hand out to anyone who might want one. There already exists a page in the unofficial conference wiki waiting for people to sign up to cover various sessions at SAA 2007 in Chicago.

I have 145 subscribers to my RSS feed (thank you Feedburner). Most of those subscribers use either Bloglines or the Google Reader. I am proud that this blog is included in the ArchivesBlogs aggregator. According to Technorati, this blog has an Authority of 33 (which means that 33 blogs have linked to it in the past 6 months).

According to Google Analytics, I have had just over 5,000 unique visitors to my Spellbound Blog website. Those individuals have viewed a total of 13,900 pages (each with up to 10 posts on them). I have had visitors from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa (those are Google Analytics geographic breakdowns). 27% of the visitors to Spellbound Blog are recurring visitors. While almost 25% of my visitors arrive because they just typed my URL into their browser, 37% have been referred from other sites and 38% referred from search engines. A full 35% of my site traffic is the result of organic Google searches – but those site visits average a 75% bounce rate so it is possible that many of those visitors take a quick look around, realize they are in the wrong place and continue on their way.

In contrast with what Google Analytics tells me, Awstats reports that I have had over 9,000 unique visitors in 2007 alone – but that seems somehow to include requests for my RSS feed. It is interesting to note here that it is not easy to be sure what the various statistics really mean. This stats confusion made me think of this quote: “A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure.” (Lee Segall).

The most popular post due to organic searches is the post titled 129th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Invention of the Phonograph. Google currently returns this post in the 2nd slot for searches of impact of thomas edison inventions and at the bottom of the first page for invention of the phonograph. I would like to imagine that the 330 or so middle or elementary school students who stumbled onto this post were intrigued by my ideas, but the average time on the page is only a bit over 2 minutes – so who knows how many of them are actually reading it.

It is hard to know who is really reading what I write. I always appreciate comments on my posts – it makes me more confident that folks are in fact reading. I also just like the feedback.

All I can be certain of is that I still enjoy the research and the writing. I haven’t run out of ideas. During this past semester (during which I was taking 2 courses and working full time) I actually found myself annoyed by all the duties that prevented me from posting more often. I had one of those moments in which I realized that writing for this blog had turned into a reward rather than any sort of ‘work’.

So three cheers for a great first blog year! I have lots of ideas for the year ahead. I hope I can meet some of you at SAA in Chicago. My talk, “Communicating Context: The Power of Digital Interfaces”, will be part of the panel titled Preserving Context and Original Order in a Digital World (Session 804: Saturday September 1 at 1pm).

Thank you to everyone who reads Spellbound Blog. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for keeping me in (and adding me to) your RSS feed readers. Without all of you I would just be talking to myself.

Ideas for SAA2007: Web Awards, Wikis and Blogs

Online since late March of this year, the new ArchivesNext blog is wasting no time in generating great ideas. First of all – I love the idea of awards for the best archives websites. How about ‘Best Archives Blog’, ‘Best Online Exhibit’ and ‘Best Archives Website’? It seems like barely a week goes by on the Archives and Archivists’ listserv between each announcement of a new archives website or online exhibition. I think an entire blog could be created just showing off the best of archives websites. I would love to see those making the greatest online contributions to the profession honored at the annual conference.

Another great ArchivesNext idea is a wiki for SAA2007 in Chicago. I was amazed at the conference last summer to see the table where you could buy audio recordings of the presentations. I live so much in the tech/geek world that I had assumed that of course SAA would have someone recording the sessions so they could be posted online. I assumed that there would be a handy place for presenters to upload their handouts and slides. A wiki would be a great way to support this sort of knowledge sharing. People come from all over the world for just a few days together at conferences like this. Many more can’t make the trip. I think it would go a long way to build more of an online archival community to have something beyond a listserv that let groups of like minded individuals build a collection of resources surrounding the topics discussed at the conference.

What about blogging the conference? Last year suggested we all use SAA2006 to tag our conference blog posts. Technorati shows 25 posts with that tag (and yes, a lot of those posts are mine). One major stumbling block was a lack of wireless in the hotel where the convention was held. Another was a combination of lack of interest and lack of coordination. Too few people were mobilized in time to plan coverage of the panels.

We could leverage a conference wiki to coordinate more effectively than we did last year. Simple signup sheets could help us ensure coverage of the panels and roundtables. I think it would be interesting to see if those who cannot attend the conference might express preferences about which talks should definitely be covered. If there are wiki pages for each panel and roundtable, those pages could eventually include links to the blog posts of bloggers covering those talks.

Blogging last August at SAA2006 was interesting for me. I had never attempted to blog at a conference (Spellboundblog was less than 1 month old last August). I took 37 pages of notes on my laptop. Yes, there was a lot of white space – but it was still 37 pages long. I found that I couldn’t bring myself to post in the informal ‘stream of consciousness style that I have often seen in ‘live blogging’ posts. I wanted to include links. I wanted to include my thoughts about each speaker I listened to. I wanted to draw connections among all the different panels I attended. I wanted someone who hadn’t been there to be able to really understand the ideas presented from reading my posts. That took time. I ended up with 10 posts about specific panels and round tables and another 2 about general conference ideas and impressions. Then I gave up. I got to the point where I felt burdened by the pages I had not transcribed. I had gotten far enough away from the conference that I didn’t always understand my own notes. I had new things I wanted to talk about, so I set aside my notes and moved on.

I hope we get more folks interested in blogging the conference this year. Feel free to email me directly at jeanne AT if you would like to be kept in the loop for any blogging coordination (though I will certainly post whatever final plan we come up with here).

Reflections on Blogging at SAA 2006

Mark A. Matienzo’s recent post (and its related comments) On what “archives blogs” are and what ArchivesBlogs is not over on got me thinking about my experience of blogging SAA2006 again (as well as making me want to send out a special thank you to everyone for their kind words – as much as I am writing for myself, I will admit to being encouraged that there are others who find my posts worth reading).

Since there was no internet available in the rooms where the panels were held – I found myself taking notes on my laptop. 37 pages of notes later and sitting at home alone trying to convert those notes into coherent posts and I found it hard sometimes to not be overwhelmed. It was interesting to try and strike a balance between sharing the ideas the panelists had presented and including my own insights. I think what I ended up with was a decent mix – with the opportunity to include ideas about the connections among many of the panel topics, as well as other ideas and websites from outside the conference. On the downside – I never did finish writing up all the talks I took notes on. The scale of the task got to me – and realized that I had started to wish I could write about something else. So I did!

I do wonder how different my posts would have been if I could have posted them live. I think that I would have covered a greater breadth of speakers – but with a loss of depth. I would have had less opportunity to reflect on how the speakers talks connected with the rest of the archival world – especially those examples and other ideas I was able to link to as a result of my extra time.

I hope that we (ie, anyone who wants to try their hand at it) can coordinate a broader group of bloggers at SAA 2007 in Chicago, both to expose the ideas presented with those who could not attend as well as to permit further reflection on connections among all the new ideas that might otherwise be hard to share. The library community is ahead of us on this front. Take a look at the page for the Public Library Associations’ recent conference in Boston. This page gives people an easy link to view the posts from the PLA 2006 conference – while spreading the work among many keyboards. Perhaps there is a place for something like this in the future of archives conferences.