What use is a blog?
Spurred by a spate of positive comments about, first, the Chew blog and now Fondly, Pennsylvania, I have been thinking a lot about how readers use the information they gather from following our blog offerings.
I was really pleased to know that Seth Bruggeman has been using our blogs in his Public History and American Studies classes at Temple, and equally excited to have Timothy, one of Seth's students, blogging with us here. I know that several other professors have used the Chew blog in their history courses, and I recently heard from Matt Herbison that Susan Davis has also used the Chew blog in her archives courses at Drexel. All of this leaves me cheering. I have connected with other archives bloggers about what they're doing, and it has helped me to shape my ideas about how to use this valuable resource. This whole digital community idea seems to be unfolding beautifully. The only part missing is direct feedback from users.
How do we know what will mean something to you, our dear readers? How can we keep you reading along? How can we serve up the most interesting, tantalizing behind the scenes views from our shop?
I guess, in many ways, this is always the problem with information management. We provide many tools to our users, but it is sometimes difficult to know which ones serve them best. So we do user studies or solicit feedback from our patrons. Or we just guess.
Up until now, we've just been guessing here at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. We're putting out the stories of what we're doing, and people seem to be reading along, but we don't really know why. Is it because we have a nice look about us? Do you appreciate our sometimes serious, sometimes silly approach? Or is it really the collections that grab you? What pleases you?
No, really, I'm asking...
I would love to hear from you--any and all of you--about how you use our blogs. Please leave us a comment to tell us what you love, what you wish there were more of, and even what you could really do without. Tell us what you do with the information you gather here--is it sheerly for pleasure? Are you an archivist, conservator, or historian who likes to keep up with the field? What use is this blog to you? I would especially encourage those of you who were followers of the Chew blog and have now migrated to Fondly, Pennsylvania to respond. I really look forward to hearing from some of you.
Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful feedback.