AIC 2012 Notes: Conservators and Social Media

Conferences are not all about the sessions.

The Good News: AIC’s Conservators Converse has done a great job of blogging talks from the annual conference. If you are looking for the Book and Paper Group sessions, the Electronic Media Group sessions, the Photographic Materials Group sessions, or any other session, you can easily find them (filter by category for ease of finding what you want). This is a fantastic way to share the event and kudos to them for wrangling so many people to blog the sessions.

The Bad News: You can now find almost all of the sessions on the Conservators Converse blog, which leads very little for me to post here. So what is left for me to talk about?

Let’s start with the session I participated in, “Communicating Conservation.” The panel was expertly put together by Nancie Ravenel, author of Social Media for Collections Care wiki. The panelists discussed how they use various social media and gave tips for effective blogging. Melissa and I focused on what platforms we use and why, who our audiences are and some of the ideas we have come up with that have been successful. Our presentation is available online. The presentations have been written up for Conservators Converse by Rose Cull (thanks Rose!). There is a good discussion going on over there and I encourage you to chime in. I wrote more about the resulting discussion and my lingering questions over on Preservation Underground.

Issues I’m Still Mulling Over

As a blogger both here (the “personal” me) and as part of my institution (the “professional” me), I am stuck on this idea of participation and how we can increase readership and response. It is called “social media” after all, which implies something beyond the simple act of writing. It’s been difficult with this blog to inspire conversation, although we have some loyal readers and responders and we are thankful for all of them. But all bloggers hope to spark ideas, share experiences and talk with people. How can we get more readers to comment or even to write guest posts? What content really gets your attention? Without feedback we are just shouting into the wind and expending energy that we could better channel elsewhere.

Which leads me to the next point, that of eyeballs, attention spans and the proliferation of really interesting blogs. When Holly and I started this blog there were not many preservation blogs out there. There were some, mostly personal blogs, but not too many that discussed issues or trends in the profession. Now we are competing with so many really great blogs that I wonder if we have hit a saturation point and capturing anyone’s attention will be increasingly difficult. Are there too many blogs out there now? Are we simply competing with them or is there more opportunity to collaborate across blogs (I would personally love that)?

Why are so many organizations reluctant to post their social media guidelines? I was asked during the discussion if my library has posted it’s blogging guidelines, they have not. I am in conversation with the key people who have the authority to make that happen, let’s just say the guidelines are still not available. You can find some on Nancie’s wiki, and Rose pointed to this link, but as we were putting our library’s guidelines together the organizations we found  sharing their documentation were mostly small public libraries. Why don’t we share more with the public and with our colleagues? this came up at the Great Debate, too. I realize there are privacy issues, and sensitive subjects, and it’s hard to stick your neck out in a profession that loves to judge and question. But I do think we should continue this discussion of why we use social media, what best to do with it, and how we can share more.



One Response

  1. I commented a little about the whole blog thing recently on the AIC blog, but I’ll comment some here too (because I like to be supportive of others’ blogging endeavors.)

    Responding to your perhaps rhetorical question “Without feedback we are just shouting into the wind and expending energy that we could better channel elsewhere[?]” I would say no. I did a quick calculation on my own blog numbers and it looks like I get one comment for every 100 page views (and nearly half of those comments will be mine.] I’ve not gone back to count how many different people have commented on my blog, but I’m guessing most comments came from a few people. And so I’m always amazed when I hear from people – who are not commenters – who tell me that they read and like my blog. So, I’m just not certain the value of a blog and the number of comments it gets are directly related.

    Or take the recent AIC meeting blog posts on the Conservators Converse site as an example. I did a quick count, there are approximately 75 meeting related posts, and about 7 have comments, and I think 3 have more than 3 comments. I think the AIC meeting blog posts are an incredible success, but did they create much blog conversation? Not really, except of course for the post about your presentation. 😉

    So yeah, blog comments are nice and encouraging – I’m pleased that I had 2 by people I admire on my blog today – but that’s rare and I don’t think their absence is necessarily an indication of wasted energy. (or at least I keep trying to convince myself of this.)

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