Friday, March 25, 2005

Metablogging

Well, I'm feeling a bit under the weather today. I won't be going to the ALA-Student Chapter to do a talk about internship blogging. So I'd thought I'd do some blogging about blogging (metablogging I guess you'd call it). Here's a picture of me for starters, doing what I've done best over the last ten years...dealing with CDs and working at radio stations.


(A picture of me at IU's public radio station WFIU where I catalog their sound recordings)

I've been using blogs since last fall. I really think they're useful for specific purposes, like if you are intensely focused on one topic, or a specific project. I read some general blogs--friends, political, music, arts-related, but they're just not what I'm interested in doing. My first blog was called "The Kitchen Party." The Kitchen Party is also the name of my folk and traditional music program on WIUS AM-1570 that I host every other week. Although I sometimes write about the music I hear, artists playing in town, etc., it's really just a place that I can put up my playlists and have them available to my listening public.


(IU's student radio station where I host "The Kitchen Party" my bi-weekly folk/traditional music program)

This got me thinking about the purpose of webspaces. Why do we have them? We can have them to put up our résumés, our photo galleries, or things that we care about. They're also a place for storytelling. The narrative we create about ourselves online is crucial to our virtual identity. By talking about ourselves online, we define ourselves and our attributes. I've been struck by the casuality of what some people post--our expectations about who we are in public and in private has really changed for people of younger generations. Posting our problems, our frustations, hopes, dreams, desires, secrets, etc. I intended not to do this when I first started blogging. And who's reading all this text anwyay? My audience for my radio show is interested in knowing what I played when. So, when I created my internship journal/blog I had less of an idea of my targeted audience.


(The WETA-FM library, the collection I oversaw as music librarian from 2000-2003)

I am specializing in Music Librarianship, with my focuses in cataloging and audio preservation. Much as some people become librarians because they love books, I did so because I love recorded music and the spoken word. I worked for WETA-FM, a public radio station in Washington, DC for three years before coming to Indiana. There I oversaw their collection of over 20,000 CDs, mostly classical as was their format then. For the specialization, I am required to two internships: one of which was required to be in cataloging (Sound Recordings Cataloging with Sue Stanchu), and the other in another music-related subject area. I chose an archival setting for the second, and am interning at the Archives of Traditional Music working for Mike Casey, the recording services coordinator (i.e. engineer). One of the requirements for an internship as many of you know is to do a journal. Well, I'm not very good with this, so I thought that I would need a way to encourage me to do it often.


(The Archives of Traditional Music is located on the ground and first floors of Morrison Hall).

A blog is a great way to get your thoughts, writing, reflections online quickly. I don't need to learn much code; in fact, if I just let the template do its thing--I don't need to learn any. There are features you can add, depending on what you want. A lot of add-on code for links, pictures, polls, etc. are available free on-line. You just have to search for it. One of the strengths of blogging is also one of its weaknesses. That is, the speed at which your thoughts can get to a large public quickly. (Later editing can solve this, but once it's been seen by other people, they form impressions). As a mostly private person working with a very public medium, there are some limitations I put on myself when I blog. I rarely blog about the personal, or post opinions about things I don't already know a bit about. Sometimes, I will post my impressions and ask questions...in the same way you would in a journal. I will express some frustrations about professional matters, but not about the institutions I'm working for. That's not kosher or professional, and can clearly come back to bite you in the ass.


(A picture of one of the studios I work in at the Archives)

I hope someone knows something about what I am talking about is reading abd paying attention to the questions/observations I am making. But I don't know if they are. I did make the decision to have my blog captured and displayed on SLIS Blogs. I've learned a lot about blogs and the "blogosphere" from reading other colleagues' and friends blogs who are also library students. Being part of a community of bloggers I've discovered is a good thing. It informs the way that I write and the topics I choose. I haven't blogged as much as I did during the first part of the semester. Some of that is keeping the private private; but mostly it is just because I don't have the time to do all of the things I'm doing and write about them simultaneously. Real life definitely gets in the way.


(My space for my cataloging internship at the IU Music Library).

In short, you can make a blog as simple or as complex as your desire or technical abilities will allow. There are tons of resources online to get a start. I use Blogger, which is not great. But it works for beginners and for those who don't have a lot of time on their hands for upkeep, or care that much about layout. You can host your own blog on Ella, or create a Live Journal.

In conclusion, the content of your blog should obviously reflect who you are, your intended audience(s), and the reason you're blogging. If it doesn't, don't be too hard on yourself, it's easy to stray and talk about things that are off-the-point. If you don't want your blog to be spidered, there is a tag you can include which inhibits some search engines from indexing it. In a way, a blog or a website is a form of marketing. It generates interest, and expresses your way of viewing the world, whether about the world of cataloging or politcal events.

Some concluding words of wisdom:
1) Express intelligent opinions, or qualify your questions or impressions by saying that there are things you don't know. It's ok to say that you don't know everything. That's why we're in school.
2) I advise only stating any arguments or opinions expressed in ways that are difficult to misconstrue or take out of context.
3) Don't assume you're the first people to have dealt with difficult issues.
4) Only type what you want people to find out about you.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at tpease, or make a comment to this post in true BLOG fashion.

2 Comments:

At Thu Mar 31, 08:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do all that cataloging? Won't all that music be on a computer soon in the form of .mp3 files?

It's much easier for a DJ to keyword search for an .mp3 file than to go to the music library for a CD.

 
At Mon Apr 04, 12:01:00 AM, Blogger Thom said...

You know, I've been away this last week so I haven't had a chance to answer before now.

Since you posted anonymously, I can't assume anything about your background, except that you somehow found my blog through the Web or another e-forum. Are you a librarian, library student, radio DJ, club DJ, etc?

So, if I knew something about you I could answer your question more relevantly. There are simple and complex answers to the questions you pose.

First, let me say that I am a library student, but I am also a music librarian at a classical music public radio station. Cataloging is what happens when one organizes and describes their materials/files in a logical format that is discernible to one or many user communities. In a library, we catalog objects which contain audio (not just music--there's a difference), instead of the single song or work on the item or somewhere on the Web, because that's the context libraries operate in. They generally collect objects, not MP3s (which are terribly lossy for classical music). The cataloging done by libraries reflects this.

To your second question...the answer is not any time soon. When you say all music--that's a LOT of audio with not inconsequential filesizes when you think about the mass of all those files together. Storage is getting cheaper, this is true. The barriers to getting "all" comprehensive audio on the Web is time, money, copyright, and systems. And libraries don't want .mp3 files--neither do any of the radio stations I've worked for. It's too much of a lossy format, which undercuts the music we're trying to broadcast. MP3s are certainly no solution to preservation, because you're not saving the original content--only an accessible copy which erases possibly vital information for listening.

To your final paragraph, I will say that I have never tried to do a keyword search on an .mp3 file on Google. It is not legal for you to download and distribute MP3 files (whose music and original sound recordings are still under copyright) without paying for it. And are the search parameters and the underlying metadata of the MP3 robust enough for discovery?

Clearly, I could talk all day on these matters. But I think your question belies some ignorance of the issues that libraries and radio stations face in dealing in a legal manner with music and sound recordings.

 

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