Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Update on Blog research: More blog-based small business information sources

It has been some time now that I have updated this blog. Much of the time has been spent reading and writing for other media such as for journal articles or reference books. However, I have decided to pause and reflect on some current connections between my research and what I find on the Web.

I note that a number of traditional media who produce online news also produce blogs that produce content related for an audience interested in small business issues. Two such media outlets are the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-small-business) and the New York Times (http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/this-week-in-small-business-frankenstorm/). However, that is not to say that these are the only two, as I recognise that many media outlets producing online news have their news posted in blog-like formats or structures. The above two though, explicitly refers to these as blogs (by the direct inclusion of the term 'blogs' in the associated URL).

The available of small business news blogs must be contrasted by the conflicting and seemingly low numbers of blog users presented by Pew Internet statistics. According to Pew Internet statistics

Only 13% ever use the Internet to create or work on their own online journal or blog. ( Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2011, May)

Only 14% ever use the Internet to create or work on their own online journal or blog
(2011, Pew Internet & American Life Project, June, 2011)

80% never used blogs as a source to get information about one's local community and 1% not sure. (Rosenstiel, Mitchell, Purcell & Rainie, 2011, Sep. 26)

Only 20% ever commented on a local news story or local blog they read online. (Rainie, Purcell, & Smith 2011, Jan. 18)

30% say that a social, civic, professional, religious or spiritual groups in which they are currently active in have their own blogs. 14% do not know. (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2011, Jan.)

4% posted comments, questions or information about health or medical issues on a blog.
(Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2011, May)

On a typical day, 11% get news and information from the website of an individual blogger. (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010, Mar.)
These statistics point a picture of only a few persons making use of blogs as information sources. Yet, the content being created on blogs may be very very relevant, current and useful for small business operators and entrepreneurs to access.

Blogs to me are new media to disseminate information that were previously done through word of mouth or ephemeral publications like magazines or newsletters. The fact that traditional media outlets have appropriated them, also strengthens the case for libraries and even users to know about blogs as information sources and when to use them and how to identify and find good ones. Hence the need for my research.

Edited: November 1, 2012 to include proper citation of references


Miller, C., Rainie, L., Purcell, K., Mitchell, A., & Rosenstiel, T. (2011, Sep. 26.). How people get local news and information in different communities. (Project for excellence in journalism). Washington: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Communities-and-Local-News.aspx
Rainie, L., Purcell, K., & Smith, A. (2011, Jan. 18.). The social side of the internet. Washington: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/The‐Social‐Side‐of‐the‐Internet.aspx
Rosenstiel, T., Mitchell, A., Purcell, K., & Rainie, L. (2011, Sep 26.). How people learn about their local community. (The Project for Excellence in Journalism/the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Local News Poll Jan, 2011).Washington: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2011/Pew%20Knight%20Local%20News%20Report%20FINAL.pdf

Monday, October 8, 2012

Categorizing blogs as information sources

Just sharing my latest presentation, "Categorizing blogs as information sources: Implications for collection development policies of libraries" presented at #Influence12 – Symposium & Workshop on Measuring Influence on Social Media Sep. 28-29 at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

More details on the ideas presented at the conference are also available at http://socialmedialab.ca/influence12/submissions/influence12_submission_18.pdf

Google Power Search course and its application to libraries

It has been a while since I last updated this blog. However, in the span of time I presented a paper at a symposium, and did Google Online Searching Course, officially named "Power Searching with Google". It is the latter that I would like to talk about, and in particular, spin off ideas about the application to libraries.

My experience with Google's online Power Searching course

Google's delivery of the online certificate course used slides, video and HTML (text). I appreciated this, but however felt, that for my own benefit and other persons who are at an advanced or intermediate level, having a pre-assessment would be very useful. I was bored going through all the videos and HTML (text), reinforcing what I already knew and picking up little new pieces of information once in a while. It was after doing the mid-course assessment that I recognised what I did not know, and through this process, Google could direct me through its feedback to the relevant video, slides and html text to improve.

Hence, a pre-assessment, would be able to assess the student or candidate, and save them time by a) showing them where their knowledge is weak and b) directing them to the place to get the relevant update to their knowledge.


I see application to government organisations too, especially in the English-speaking Caribbean. Agencies like the national training agencies could adopt this type of online delivery to train the nation's skilled workers who are not yet certified. I also see it possible that institutions like the Institute of Jamaica, with responsibility for encouraging literature, science and art in Jamaica, could set up online courses in Jamaican science, literature and art, while delivering online certificates to those who complete the online courses as being knowledgeable about local science, art or literature.

Even national libraries could do the same. National libraries are generally knowledgeable about a nation's information resources. As such, national libraries could offer certificate course in nation's information resource, testing candidates for their knowledge of major national information sources and where persons might be able to locate what type of information.

This latter point is essential, as libraries have traditionally seen their training roles in terms of preparing users for use of in-house collection (the old paradigm of bibliographic/library instruction). Today, libraries are now seeing their training roles in terms of preparing users to use collections within and outside of the walls of the library (hence the new information literacy paradigm). As such, it is now not a matter of should libraries offer online courses for clients, but the issue is how do we do it so that our clients or users are actually motivated to pursue and complete these courses. For me, the answer seems plain: offer them an online certificate course with a pre-assessment that first helps them to identify their gaps in knowledge and where they need to go in order to update their knowledge. Let the online certificate be the motivation, and market the course and the certificate. I'm sure those, seeking professional development and career development opportunities, will be glad to do library online courses on information literacy for the exchange of a certificate, so that they can add a line to their curriculum vitae (CV), or résumés.