Business Blog reviewed by library school student

I love it when library school students stop by and chat. They usually reach me via the chat widget on this blog or via the chat widget on the Biz Wiki. The students usually have a few questions about using Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, or screencasts. Occasionally students will blog an analysis for some of the tools I’ve used, and it often gives me some good feedback on what I’m trying to do with this blog and with the Biz Wiki. Library school affords you the opportunity to take a more scientific (and perhaps new) look at how things are done, so I appreciate the outsider looking in perspective.

In a recent post, Claudia analyzed the Business Blog and offered quite a few good comments. I thought I would take a few minutes to address a few of her comments at this time.

1. Claudia writes:

The identity/brand of the blogger is clearly visible (Kroski, 2008, pp. 24-5), as the blog is integrated into the Ohio University Libraries Web site.The header of the Web site, including the name and logo of the organization, is displayed on top of each page of the blog. In addition, a picture of the author as well as his name and job title are displayed on the right sidebar, clearly indicating to the user who the individual librarian is who is blogging on behalf of his organization. Finally, the blog has an About page with more detailed information about who is blogging and why.

When I first set up the Business Blog, and many of our other blogs, we decided that the blogs should try to look the same as the rest of the library website. WordPress is pretty flexible in that you can add headers and styles to match existing websites.  We do have a few other blogs that we have added recently.  For one reason or another, the creators of those blogs chose templates that did not match the library website.  I can understand their reasons for this (mostly because they like other templates better) but from an administrator’s standpoint it makes trouble-shooting the blogs a litte more difficult.

As far as my name, picture, and contact info on the blog goes, I think it is very important for the readers to know a little about who is writing the content.  In my job, I try to make sure all business students know my face and name, and this blog is one way to facilitate that.  The “About” page also is my best attempt to tell readers what they will find here, but sometimes my posts don’t necessarily stick to what is written there.

2.  Claudia writes:

In addition to the personal photograph, the right sidebar also displays a short video showing the author which gives the blog a very personal touch. Detailed contact information, a chat widget, and a twitter widget are provided as well making the author seem very approachable to the user.

The Twitter widget, photos, videos, and contact information are my best attempt to make me “very approachable to the user,” and I would like to believe that our business students and faculty see me as such.  One of the most valuable things that I learned while attending the ACRL Immersion Institute in 2004 was to try to put a little of your personality in your teaching. I’ve tried to take this a step farther in making my online presence more personal as well.  Bear in mind that I’m not trying to be best friends with our students, but simply to show that there’s more to me than books and databases and business knowledge.

3.  Claudia writes:

While feedback is encouraged, only few comments have been posted thus far. The author doesn’t reply to any comments (at least not on the blog itself), and, therefore, fails to “join the conversation” with the users

Comments on the Business Blog are pretty difficult to manage.  Most of my comments are from online marketers or other online business sites, and generally they are just commenting to get a cheap link back to their websites.  I’ve since made a commenting policy, but that has yet to deter these commenters (or they simply do not read).  I have not received any comments on the Business Blog from students or faculty, although several have told me in person that they have found particular posts or videos especially useful.

4.  Claudia writes:

The blog is updated frequently (once or twice a week) and most of the posts seem to be relevant to the blog’s objective and target audience. Many posts include videos and images making the blog more interesting and visually appealing to the user.

I do my very best to keep the content fresh, but the content often comes in cycles. Since I use this blog primarily to point students to databases, books, or articles in the Biz Wik, much of the content is created based on the questions they have.  If it is a slow time in the quarter and I’m not getting many research questions, then the blog posts tend to be further apart.  However, I’m looking at ways to post more regularly, although I don’t have an idea of what is realistic.  I try to keep a running list of potential posts, but sometimes the timeliness of those posts disappears before I can get to them (or I forget what I was going to write in the first place).    I would venture to say that most of the readers of this blog are not Ohio University faculty or students, so I potentially have a larger audience for other types of posts.  It’s pretty cool to see how people find this blog through web searches, so I’m glad to see the blog has a larger use outside of my univeristy’s population.  That’s what is so cool about what I do and the web in general.  If someone has a research question, odds are somebody else has the same question as well. If I blog about what I’ve found in the research process, someone might be able to use that information with their own research needs.

Once again, thanks to Claudia for the very thorough analysis of this blog, and for the very positive comments.  One of her classmates, Amy,  also stopped by to chat online today, so that was very cool as well.  Best of luck to Claudia and Amy and the rest of their classmates this summer.  Please feel free to stop by sometime.