Refreshingly, they start by saying they won’t just rehash the paper since it’s available online. Rather they’ve continues to check the blogosphere and will report on recent developments and other insights not in the paper.
Tracking the number of blogs shows essentially exponential growth after a slow start: as far as Jim can tell the first museum blog was infoTECmuseo, Quebec, Canada, started on 6.06.2002! They summarized some findings from the paper, with Seb mentioning how the bottom-up approach for starting a blog has been a theme. Just as the Walker blogs started under the radar with the NMI blog, PowerHouse’s Fresh+New started as an internal blog and later went public.
[ Interesting case study: Zeke’s Gallery – tries to have 3 posts before 10am. Uses Google Alerts to seed him with art news every morning. This model requires much less time than purely original content. ]
They included a well-done slide on “recommendations” for those about to blog or already blogging – the biggest one we’re missing is the format of our permalinks. It’s been on our list for ages, time to do it. The remaining points were all good tips for increasing searchability and keeping momentum rolling on the blog. One final bullet point recommended linking to other museum blogs. The NMI team has been debating this internally for a while, and I think we’ve decided to do it in a two-pronged approach: a blog-wide linkroll, and an author-specific blogroll that would show on their profile page. This will hopefully give us the resolution we need without cluttering the site.
First question had to do with that very issue – how to ethically cross-link without just throwing up an OPML file with no filtering. Jim addressed it by explaining how museumblogs.org vets inclusion into their site and recommending museums use a similar process of deciding who to link to.
A question about comment-friendly posts had Seb trying to explain how hard it is to predict – often comment solicitations are ignored. He basically summed it up by saying if you know your audience you may be able to prod them with an on-topic post that ends up generating discussion. In our workshop we essentially recommended people not ask for comments – nothing looks worse three months later than a request for comments followed by … nothing.
Seb mentioned he thinks the library sector is probably about 2 years ahead of the museum blogosphere – they already Radically Trust their users in ways museums are still learning. Jim also brought up political blogs such as Daily Kos and Huffington Post as being well on the front of the trend. The volume is so big they have to self-curate on Kos.
Bryan Kennedy piped up and said in addition to trusting users we need to trust time – it takes time and involvement to build a successful blog. Older posts can re-appear and become popular down the road. Seb followed up by pointing out F+N’s plugin that automatically pulls “related posts” – again, something we should do.
Kevin from RedShift Now cautioned that the care and feeding of a blog actually takes significant time and effort, and a committed team is important. A woman from the Antarctic project I linked to from the workshop mentioned that images in the posts were key, especially if they’re taken just for the post.
Donovan brilliantly tied in BF Skinner’s schedules of reinforcement – that our readers are the rats pushing the bar to get the positive feedback (our posts). Of course, isn’t random reinforcement the most effective? We’re there!
Robin gave a hat tip to the NMI team and emphasized trusting the staff with the blogs, especially the more junior staff who may be less intimidated by blogging.
Seb summarized: do it. Start a blog. It should be free, easy, and fun, so go start experimenting.