Peer Review, Journal Articles, and Blogs – an Example

I recently saw Sarah, Michael, and Marcus discussing the peer review/journal article/blog thing, and Michael mentioned the long time it takes to get something into print publication via a print journal.

Here’s an example of that. Remember those posts from a few years back, from a few different bloggers, on how to lose your techie staff? I have recently (almost) published an article based on those posts. Here’s a run-down of the dates, which I find interesting:

  • The original blog posts took place between March 10-12, 2006
  • At Internet Librarian 2006 (October 2006), I synthesized those posts and others into a presentation
  • Then the editor of Public Library Quarterly asked me to write an article based on the presentation – emailed around March 2007, I submitted the article June 2007, it was accepted in July
  • I just edited the galley proof on 5/16/2008

Does anyone see a problem here?

My article is being published more than two years AFTER the original conversation took place. I don’t really fault the journal for their slow time-frame. That’s how it currently works, and my article will hopefully achieve some good: it will point people to the original blog posts and will introduce the topic to non-blog reading librarians. But the original conversation is done. And if I remember correctly, it was a good conversation that branched out in lots of comments and blog posts. Readers of those blog posts could participate. Readers of my soon-to-be-printed article? Not so much.

And now, coming back to peer review. Anymore, when I think of peer review, I think of my blog. I submit an idea in the form of a blog post, and it goes out to quite literally thousands of readers (I’m amazed – thanks for reading!). Each of those readers are my peers – other librarians and emerging tech professionals. And they comment on my ideas… in a matter of hours/days. And I have a chance to respond, to develop the idea further, and to actually interact with my peers. To me, that’s true, useful peer review – instant feedback, criticism, and suggestions from my peers.

Now compare that with the traditional model of peer review – 2-4 anonymous reviewers who grant the right for an article to be published or not. No discussion, no conversation, no interaction. To respond, one has to either write a letter to the editor or write another article – in which case any true discussion is killed.

Which is better peer review?

The 24th Thing

I’ve been enjoying reading Chris Brogan’s blog recently, and his post titled The Target is Not the Weapon made me think. Here are some quotes:

“In social media, the tools aren’t the same thing as reaching a goal. If you’re a marketer looking to use these tools, then make the first goal to learn how the community moves, listen to its ebbs and flows, and then make the next goal to try starting conversations.”

and

“If you’re seeking to hit a target, is the goal to use a dart or an arrow or a bullet, or is it to improve your accuracy, or is it simply to hit the bullseye? The answer is C, even though A and B are part of the equation.”

Now apply that to libraries. Say a library wants to start a blog. Is the goal to have five posts a week, to have a cool blog, to learn how to blog, or even to share what’s happening at the library? Those are all ok goals… but they’re LITTLE goals. How about these goals:

  • connect with your community in a real way
  • connect with a new, online user base
  • start real conversations with patrons
  • become an active community resource (sorta like your physical library)
  • once you’ve connected… figure out how best to meet these patron’s special needs.

Remember Helene Blowers’ Learning 2.0 / 23 Things? Maybe your 24th thing should be this: figure out what your real target is, and how these emerging tools and trends work into that equation.

My Mountain Plains Library Association Talk

The Future is Not Out of ReachJust got back from Salt Lake City yesterday – I gave a breakfast talk titled The Future is Not Out of Reach: Trends & Transformations for MPLA’s annual conference. Some of you might enjoy the pdf of the slides, too – feel free to click and peek!

James Rettig, of all people, attended my presentation (hey – a free breakfast is a free breakfast)! I was able to meet him briefly – he seemed pretty cool. I shook hands and said “hi…” I SHOULD have said “thank you for all those amazing books and articles that got me through library school!”

Anyway… enjoy the slides, and thanks, MPLA for inviting me to speak!

Working Your Community’s Blogosphere

Recently, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger posted Five Reasons Why Mom Blogs Are the Blogs to Watch. Darren says “Mom blogs are poised to become the next big “It” when it comes to the internet–they’re gathering power like no other blogging niche and will only get bigger and better.” Then he lists some reasons why – go read the article to get that list.

And now, a thought (that I’m swiping from more than one presenter at PLA) that continues to swirl through my head weeks after PLA is over: what local community blogs are you reading? Sure – you read 800 library technology blogs, and another 500 non-library tech blogs (no, I don’t read that many blogs). But how about some local blogs?

The gist of what I heard at PLA goes something like this: subscribe to some blogs in your local community and start participating on them via commenting. What does that look like? Here are some initial thoughts:

  • answer questions they ask – even link to library content in your comment
  • answer those questions they needed to ask, but didn’t – you know what I mean…
  • Make normal, interested-sounding comments… that is, if you’re really interested
  • Supply useful additional details when you see them – again, linking to the library’s stuff in the process
  • Friend some locals on twitter/facebook/myspace/etc
  • Set up some vanity searches in technorati and Google alerts, and thank people when they mention your library! How cool would that be?

So yes – this is a bit more “active” than what librarians tend to be used to… but if you want to make an impact in your local [digital] community, you need to be participating. Because if you aren’t participating, you don’t exist.