Blogging was one of the popular tracks at the Internet Librarian conference a few weeks ago in Monterey, Calif. The presentations focused on using the Web to improve information services and knowledge exchange. Lots of people got excited hearing about using blogs for "emergent information." Less than a week later, the editors at Information Today, Inc. (ITI) were busy test-driving our own blog and experimenting with the technology as a news communication medium. Today, Dec. 1, marks the official launch of the InfoToday blog to cover news and events at Online Information 2003 in London.
The purpose of the Live From London blog is to provide immediate, breaking news coverage of the conference and the exhibition. The blog will feature postings of news and commentary throughout the week by ITI editors in London as well as editors on this side of the pond. It will end on Dec. 5, one day after the conference ends, at which time the blog will be "frozen" and archived.
Reporting from London are Dick Kaser, ITI's vice president of content; Marydee Ojala, editor of ONLINE; and John Eichorn, editor of Information Today. I've warned them to bring comfortable shoes and power bars so they have the stamina to cover everything at this sprawling event—well, almost everything. Coordinating company press releases and announcements from the U.S. will be yours truly, ITI's news bureau chief. (Hey, next year I get to go to London!) Also contributing, as appropriate, to the news and commentary will be Barbara Quint, editor of Searcher, and Michelle Manafy, editor of EContent.
It was surprising to me how quickly our blog took shape. Dick Kaser bounced his idea for an ITI blog off several of us while still in Monterey. Then, following Kaser's direction, our Web design staff implemented a test blog within the familiar ITI home page format, using the resources of blogger.com. With a bit of urging, all of us had posted and published to the site within a few days and had figured out how to do headlines, format, add hotlinks, and upload photos. (Not bad for mostly print-based editors.)
We discussed some issues like length (shorter, bite-sized chunks are better), typos (use the built-in spell checker; WYSIWYG editing isn't supported on the Mac OS, however), and finding a personal voice. We soon felt quite comfortable within the blogger space.
Kaser commented that he found blogging "no more labor-intensive than handling a routine e-mail." He also affirmed that our blog use is "consistent with what we do as editors and reporters at ITI." He expects to have fun doing the London blog and predicts that it "is going to read like a collaborative news story or a magazine feature article."
If you want to know more about blogs, there are certainly good resources to help. Darlene Fichter wrote on "Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library's Services" in the November/December 2003 issue of Marketing Library Services. She also wrote "Blogging for Knowledge" in the September/October 2003 issue of Intranet Professional. An article posted in Link-Up Digital is called "Blogs: The Latest Option in Raising Your Voice Online" (http://www.infotoday.com/linkup/lud051503-goldsborough.shtml). And the November/December 2003 issue of Computers in Libraries has three articles on blogging.
By the way, visuals from many of the presentations at Internet Librarian, including several from the blogging track, are available at http://www.infotoday.com/il2003/presentations/default.htm.
Surprisingly, of those visiting the ITI site who chose to answer our snap poll question—"Have you implemented (or are you planning to implement) a blog within your organization? Please comment."—only 41 percent said yes, while 59 percent said no. One comment was revealing, I thought. The anonymous respondent wrote: "We implemented a blog on our library's Web page, then discontinued it due to lack of interest—poor planning on our part, since we never had a real need for a blog in the first place. Blogs are vastly overhyped, in my opinion."
I guess having a mission to fill a real need is still important for any venture. And maybe after the success of the Internet Librarian presentations on blogging, those percentages will change.
So, we hope we fulfill your need to know what goes on in London. The event's organizers expect a crowd of 11,000 and some 250 exhibitors. Attendees will hear a roster of international presenters over the course of 3 days. The NewsBreak posted today by Marydee Ojala gives a pre-conference view and some perspectives from the event planners.
Click the Live From London blog from the infotoday.com home page, or go directly to http://www.infotodayblog.com. If you have a news tip for the London bloggers or comments on the news, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.