Serious apologies, and a proposition

Another reason it's been quiet around here is that comments haven't been appearing.

This was my fault (though I am innocent of any ill intent), and I apologize with all my heart. What happened was this: I was getting quite a bit of the particularly obnoxious kind of spam that copies other comments to appear legitimate. I cranked up the behind-the-scenes spam filter, which cheerfully snaffled every single comment and then bitbucketed them after a few days.

I didn't notice this (except to wonder why nobody was commenting! I figured it was me…) until one gentleman asked me in gmail today whether I'd seen a comment he'd left here. I hadn't, so I investigated. I rescued the comments still in the queue and shut off the auto-delete, but I'm sure some comments have been lost—and again, I'm so very sorry.

I'm reading everything, comments and email. I may not manage to respond to it all; I'm finding it a little overwhelming. I am deeply grateful for the wisdom so freely offered. I am sometimes very stupid. I rely on people who aren't.

I do have a proposition. One way to shake the sense I have of feeling alone and exposed here would be not to be alone. I'm therefore opening up the possibility of making Book of Trogool a group blog. If you think you might be interested in penning some words here (in several senses of the verb), comment here or drop me an email and let's talk about it.

Librarians, researchers, IT folk, or others with a stake in the scholarly-communication or data-curation spaces would be welcome. I do ask that you have a basic knowledge of the problem-space (seekers are fine; clueless newbies are not, sorry) and generally like-minded. In particular, anti-open-access FUD is unwelcome in the extreme, though (as anyone who's read my writing a while knows well) grounded criticism of the movement's ideology and practices is fine. I also ask that you assent to BoT's continuance under a CC-BY-US license.

You may remain pseudonymous onblog if you like, but I need to know who you are, and you'll probably have to sign an agreement with ScienceBlogs. I will of course guard that information carefully; I'm a librarian, after all! We believe (I'm told) in freedom of information exchange. As for ScienceBlogs, they've successfully guarded the identities of other pseudonymous bloggers, such as the Reveres of the erstwhile Effect Measure blog; I believe (but of course cannot guarantee) they are trustworthy.

One last stricture: I can't accept a co-blogger from MPOW, not even pseudonymously. This is because of my own weaknesses, not anything else. It's too easy for me to imagine behind-the-scenes discussions with a close colleague tempting me to say things here that I really ought not.

I would hope that even if you're as much an enfant terrible as I (and honestly, almost no one is that!), you'd try to blog here with integrity. Blog for good, not ill. Own your mistakes; I have. Own the harm you cause, should you cause harm, and try not to cause harm in the first place. You'll make mistakes; I have, many of them. That's okay. What I don't need, though, is a soapbox zealot deaf to all argument but her own, or a namecaller, or a coward, or a bully.

Book of Trogool, like all ScienceBlogs, has a revenue-sharing agreement with the mothership. I don't even understand the details, as I don't want money from BoT and even if I did I've never been anywhere near the traffic it takes to be paid. If your involvement ends up wildly remunerative (or indeed remunerative at all), the proceeds are yours. Should you (or ScienceBlogs) insist on a split, my share will go to Creative Commons. I've never been in this game for money, and I don't intend to start now.

So. How 'bout it?

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Yes, I do find comments make one feel less isolated. So do other blog posts linking to and commenting on one's own thoughts.

I have been seeing less of those inter-blog links lately (and I think I've been doing less of it myself). Part of this is due to the decreased frequency of many liblogs, my own included. In my case, other tasks often end up taking priority; and when I do get some time to blog, I somehow feel like I should be saying something big and fully-formed, instead of something small and derivative or half-worked-out. I also wonder how other social environments like Twitter (where I see lots of folks now making the quick "read this; it's interesting" posts) have changed how we tend to use blogs.

There are some interesting "virtual group blogs" out there; we're both in Planet Code4lib, for instance. But they don't have the same sort of social interweaving as either group blogs or individual blogs that do a lot of interlinking. I don't know if I want to get involved in a group blog myself right now, but I do plan to at least make more effort to support inter-blogger conversations when I do post. I do value what you write, however you see fit and prudent to do it, and am quite happy to say that in public.

If you'd like, I could contribute occasional, short posts on what's happening at Distributed Proofreaders (the main supplier of free ebooks to Project Gutenberg and thence to many other free ebook sites -- closing on our 18,000th book). Or I could ask the DP general manager if she could post occasional *official* updates.

Being discussed right now: the *possibility* of a DP "premium ebook" repository, containing only ebooks that have been proofed and formatted to our latest standards. Standards have been improving since DP started in 2001. Our earliest books aren't all that good -- though they are usually better than the earlier PG books, which were done by individuals. Some of the individuals were conscientious, some less so.

Of library relevance: if such a repository is established (which is far from certain), it would probably need a librarian or librarians to make sure that the cataloging was done correctly, from the very beginning. PG is hopeless in that regard.

Zora, you'd be welcome as a guestblogger, if that suits you.

John, yes, the connection is happening elsewhere these days. That doesn't bother me, generally; I never had all that much invested in blog comments!

Personally I'm not sure about group blogs. Some seem to work (O'Reilly Radar, for instance). But when "we" (that was the DCC) tried it, we struggled. The Digital Curation Blog worked reasonably well being mostly me. I think that's because a blog needs a voice, an opinion, at its heart. Multiple voices mean multiple opinions, and that can be disconcerting.

I full intended to keep on posting to the Digital Curation Blog after retiring from the DCC, but in practice I haven't felt strongly enough that I should; I've felt that I wanted to feel more free to express things that weren't quite consistent with what the DCC might want to say (there were other things like partly implemented plans to move the blog on-site under Drupal as well). I think this feeling harks back to your own feelings of disquiet about CavLec and BoT in an odd way.

But guest blogging is different than group blogging, somehow. Guest blogging doesn't mean a confusion of voices, rather that you've asked your friend Zora to write a view on something you're both interested in...

But whatever, however, what I wanted to say in the lost comment was to find a way of keeping this up. You may need to temper the tone a little, as one does with a conversation in a public place (cf a library coffee room). Maybe put some posts in the buffer for decision tomorrow. But I think you've shown your voice is career-building as much as (or perhaps more than) it's career-disabling. Power to your elbow!

By Chris Rusbridge (not verified) on 09 Jun 2010 #permalink