Friday, May 25, 2012

Conversation on blogs as nonfiction information sources

I have been exploring as part of my research for this term blogs as nonfiction information sources. I am conceptualizing blogs as genres of non-fiction writing, memoirs and other genres of personal stories.

From conversation, a friend of mine stated that such a study on blogs sounds interesting but posed the following questions, concerns and even answers. I have edited the responses and flow of conversation to more effectively communicate in dialogue form my emerging ideas about blogs as valuable sources of information:

Friend [slightly edited by me]:
How can you verify the accuracy of the information if it comes from a blog? Would you check who wrote it ? And even then it has not been peer reviewed, so it has to be a lower level non fiction information source to corroborate credible sources, not so?
 My response

 Well depends on which blog you use. Who produces it is important, whether it be an organisation or a company. The authority and authenticity of the blog must be ascertained.

Obviously there are some blogs being maintained by experts in a subject field (Clyde, 2004). In addition there are archives that publishes original or primary sources from their collection through blogs (Theimer, 2011).

Libraries already purchase biographies and memoirs and other non-fiction information sources written by individuals from their personal experiences.  So why not look at blogs of celebrity and important persons as also primary sources and as the online extensions of memoirs and biographies? 

My friend also raised other issues [slightly edited by me]:

        Yes you can use them [blogs] but it depends on what you are using them for, because you have to take into account the type of information you can glean from the source. A biography or a memoir is still subjective but it gives you an understanding from which to is merely a point of view

My response:
        Most definitely. As you put it...the printed genre is as subjective as the online genre.Not because it is in print makes it authentic. All printed sources are mere perspectives. But if blogs provide links to other perspectives, just like how other print books provide references, then it can also refer one to alternative perspectives and other range of perspectives

My friend [slightly edited by me]:

        Most printed sources have to go through many channels to check it is at least a researched and solid point of view and its peer reviewed by others. Unless you publish it yourself, but a blog does not go through those same channels. Hence the difference between the Internet sources and databases.The Internet sources can be good but they must be corroborated if you are using it for scholarly papers.
My response :
        Some persons and organisations upload documents and other primary sources on blogs.  Law librarians have found that they can access court documents and cases on blogs (Maxwell, 2008).

My Friend:

        Then that changes the nature of the blog. What you are then using is the primary source found through a blog.
 My response:
     Whatever is present, blogs can still be sources to locate the information. Even if they are referrals, just like bibliographies.
My friend [slightly edited by me]:
        Yes. That's what I meant.  You are using the credited material found via a blog, but some blogs are merely airings of non qualified people with non credited opinions.

My response:
      Even journalist are using blogs sometimes as sources for news reports or to identify sources to be interviewed. (Bailey, 2008) 

My friend [slightly edited by me]:
    Yes but the news is merely an event. Any event is  news. Scholarly research is different from news. I'm not saying that you can't use a blog or the information on it.

 My response:
         Sociologists are using blogs for research now. Studies have been published indicating that blogs are valuable sources of information for academic social research (qualitative and quantitative) (Hookway, 2008).
 My friend [slightly edited by me]:
         Because it is the nature of the information. That's what I said. You can use a blog depending on what you need the information for. A blog shows us human opinions, behaviours and workings of the mind. [Hookway, 2008]

My concluding remarks and commentary on the dialogue:

I had to abruptly end the conversation with my friend on this point. However, my friend by this point eventually argues my position on blogs. My only difference in view is that I doubt that any person is unqualified to write a blog. Every blog is a source of information and a perspective that should be voiced and represented. This issue therefore is of criteria in selecting what blogs to collect, and showcase to one's public. Libraries need to take into consideration the audience they are serving in those decisions and collect and bring to the mind of those audiences the blogs that may be of most information value to them.


Bailey, O. G. (2008). “Blogs in the Second Iraqi War: Alternative Media Challenging the Mainstream?” pp.72- 83. In Olgo Guedes Bailey, Bart Cammaerts and Nico Carpentier.  Understanding Alternative Media. New York: Open University Press.

Clyde, L. (2004). Weblogs and libraries. Oxford: Chandos.

Hookway, N. (2008). Entering the blogosphere: Some strategies for using blogs in social research Qualitative Research  8 (1): 91-113. 

Maxwell, R. (2008). Flash and Substance: Blogs as Alternative Sources of Legal Information. American Association of Law Libraries [AALL] Spectrum, 12(4), 9-10.

Theimer, K. (2011). A different kind of web :New connections between archives and our users. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.

(Revised for errors September 11, 2012)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Midweek's research: Entrepreneur blogging and business library services

Today I focus on blogs as information sources, with the goal of extending the argument that library professionals need to see and adopt blogs as an important part of their collection development in order to provide online information services to start-ups and small and medium enterprises.

In Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2011 report:

13% of the blogosphere is characterized as entrepreneurs [i.e. N=526 of 4,114 bloggers around the world], or individuals blogging for a company or organization they own. 84% of these bloggers blog primarily about the industry they work in, with 46% blogging about business and 40% about technology. 76% blog to share expertise; 70% blog to gain professional recognition; and 68% to attract new clients for their business.

Read more:

I also discovered one of the most recent book with a section/chapter that outlines the services that libraries have been offering to businesses including small and local businesses:

Title    The basic business library [electronic resource] : core resources and services.
Edition    5th ed. / Eric Forte and Michael Oppenheim, editors
Publisher    Santa Barbara, Calif. : Libraries Unlimited, c2012.

Chapter 10 entitled "Business reference: Advice and Strategy for Serving today's Business Users" by Lousie Klusek distills the many ways public and academic libraries have been attempting to serve and provide services to business persons, including local small business operators and entrepreneurs. Of particular interest in the business advisory services on pages (190 -191). Very good stuff here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Folklore as an information source for businesses

For this summer, I am investigating the feasiblity of folklore and storytelling being applied to modern online delivery of business information. So far, my hunch that guides my thesis is that folklore and storytelling, prior to the invention of writing, as oral art forms, were the means employed for communicating, providing or sharing information and as ancient techniques for information delivery. Since today’s online culture of information provision borders on a combination of print and oral traditions in information provision, the quest is to discover how folklore and storytelling can feasibly be applied in the modern online environment to delivery of serious or non-fiction information, and specifically apply these to communicating and providing business information, to entrepreneurs and micro-enterprise owners. 

As I have begun the readings on folklore, I see 3 main ideas emerging:

1. The theme of folklore as an economic resource for exploitation by business and capital, and how current developments in information technology and legislation have now positioned a new area for the exploration of folklore as a resource for commercial exploitation

2. The importance of a folklore collection as a source of information, not only for folklore academic researchers and humanists, but for a wide group of potential and enterprising business groups in the creative enterprises and industries such as game development, authors and creative writers, film, animation, graphics design, advertising, theatre, publishing, leisure, tourism and travel, landscapers, architects, fashion and other industry players involved in providing entertainment.

3. Folklore as an information source for businesses seeking to go global - having understanding of customs, characters, motifs and other folkloric content can help an entrepreneur from one nation create/develop appropriate services and marketing campaigns for customers in another nation.

As such, I see there is already a connection between folklore and business/enterprises. I also see a justified place for folklore collection in libraries for entrepreneurs. I am excited by what I have been finding so far, though I have not yet started to explore the use of folklore in actual information provision.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Musings on my readings: Approaches of the humanities needed for designing online library services

The new summer term has begun, and so has my readings on the folkloric aspects of my thesis idea. Generally, I expect my readings now to furnish theoretical perspectives to inform my research. Hence, for the rest of the summer I immerse myself in readings about folklore and storytelling to discover theories that can apply to online information provision.

With this, I've come across a website that I like that has given me various definitions of folklore over the centuries: University of Missouri's Department of English's Folklore, Oral Tradition and Cultural Studies course website: The site contains a sampling of definitions of folklore from 1884 to 2007.

Part of the readings I've done also have informed me include Brenda Laurel's Computers as Theatre and Theodore Roszak's (1986) The Cult of  Information: The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of Thinking. Both authors are instructive of discussing the need for a more humanistic approach to information. Laurel discusses that engineers designing human computer interaction do not produce good humanistic design that will please human beings. Roszak discusses how information as defined by mathematicians and telecommunication engineers which help to spark the development of the computing industry separate it from humanistic and everyday meaning. As such, both writers have helped me to see that a mechanistic approach dominates computer human interaction and design, rather than the approaches of the humanities.

As such, I see as part of my mission in the thesis to discuss the need for online library services to be designed for human beings using the approaches of the humanities. For my particular thesis, my emphasis will be on discussing the approaches of folklore and storytelling to informing such designs of online library services. I look forward to this challenge. Stay tuned for more.