Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blogs that I read

I will start by saying that I read a lot of blogs, and I will add that once in a while I hit the "all read" button on my aggregators. Yes, that is plural. I have the Bloglines account, which I use mostly for blogs and a few other things. Then I have a Newsgator, which I use mostly for news sources and magazines. I try to put stuff that has feeds but is not a blog on the Newsgator; I don't scan it as often as I would like. I opened the Newsgator account just to try out a different aggregator, but I did not want to just duplicate what I had in Bloglines, so I have used it for magazine feeds, news sources like AlterNet, and a couple of things I don't need to look at as frequently. And finally, I did back up my Bloglines feeds in the Google Reader. At one point, I considered switching fully to Google Reader, but I have a lot of clippings saved in Bloglines that are not easy to move. So, right now I am just thinking about it. But this is not a post about aggregators. That topic could be a separate post. The reason I started this post by talking about aggregators is that I read a lot of blogs, and I scan a lot more. You do learn in our line of work to scan a lot. If I read every single thing in my aggregators on a regular basis, I would not have enough time to get my actual work done. That's ok. Scanning and selective reading works well for me in terms of keeping up when it comes to the blogosphere.

So, what do I read besides librarian and library-related blogs? Well, I can give you some of the categories in my folders to give you a sense with some examples.

  • Politics and commentary. This is exactly what it sounds like. I scan and/or read some of the political blogs. The thing I don't like about the larger blogs in this area is that they post a huge volume of material. For instance, I scan AMERICAblog and Huffington Post. Huffington Post is specially notorious for very long feeds. I am seriously considering rechecking to see if they have other feeds. At any rate, these are blogs I mostly scan since the posts, while numerous, tend to be very short. Exception to this are some of the ones that do more commentary, but the volume on those is smaller.
  • Higher Education. This folder has two blogs from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and then some professor bloggers I like. I work in higher education, so I have to keep up with this area. This does not include academic librarians. Those bloggers go in with the other librarians.
  • Blogging, Infotech, and 2.0. Here are things like Mashable and Lifehacker. These two also post a lot, so I often just scan them. I often save some of their posts to my account for later reference. In addition, I keep a few blogs here that deal with innovation, blogging, and productivity. I try not to put things that are way too technical. I am somewhat savvy, but I am not a developer or programmer. Just a well informed user of some tools.
  • Books and reading. I would not be able to call myself a librarian if I did not follow a few of these. These vary in size and scope.
  • Humor and Odd Things. I do follow a good number of these. You have to have humor because laughter is important. It's not comic strips like Dilbert (i.e., the usual mainstream); those would go over in the Newsgator. I do put in here webcomics though. I also have blogs about the odd and unusual.
This is just a very small sampling. I have a few other categories in my reader. As I write this, what I realize is that it may be time to prune some of the feeds down a little. I also keep a folder labeled "miscellaneous, for now" in my Bloglines. This is for blogs that I have added on a trial basis. If I like them, I add them to the right category in my reader. If not, they are gone. I have also been deleting a couple that I find myself not reading. If I simply scan without paying much attention, then it means the blog is not holding my interest, and it's gone. On the other hand, I do add feeds based on things I see in other blogs. So, in the end, it's a balancing act. But, as kids would say, no big deal. I can always declare "feed bankruptcy" for a day and just hit that "all read" button. The feeds will fill themselves again the next day.

Note: This post was inspired by Andy Carvin, of the Learning Now blog, who wrote about the blogs he reads. He asked what blogs his readers read that may be useful to educators but may not be meant for educators per se. In my case, some of the things I read may be useful to teachers; others are just useful to me in terms of keeping up or just staying informed. As for Learning Now, Mr. Carvin often writes very thoughtful posts about the Internet and its intersection with education. In my humble view, it is worth a look.

No comments: