Wouter’s Request: the 6 W’s of this blog

2 10 2008

Wowter asked appr. 90 dutch library bloggers, including me, to write about our motives for blogging, who whe reach, whether we succeed in building a community, which posts we like most etc. A carnival of excerpts will be presented at a Dutch congres on Library 2.0 (OCN2008).

Of course I will accept his invitation, because:

  • When Wowter (one of the most well known Dutch librarybloggers and an advocate of library 2.0) asks you something, you do it (albeit late)
  • Wowter (and Dymphie) were the first non-Spoetnik-course members responding to my posts, giving tips (making lists is one of them 😉 ) and encouraging me to keep on and to look further than your own blog.
  • Wowter was the 10.000st visitor of this blog
  • foremost: it is good to ponder from time to time why and how you do the things you do.

Thus, here are the 5W’s (well 6) of this blog:


This blog was started as part of the course SPOETNIK on NEW internet communication methods for librarians. I found many of the web 2.0 tools very useful, especially RSS. Blogging itself was FUN, so I spend most of the course time on blogging. There was a small group of active Spoetnik bloggers who responded to each other. Most of the posts were about the course exercises, or we were just kidding with each other. That was great. But as the course proceeded, I realized that if I was to continue blogging, I should write about other subjects as well and I should build another community. I started to write about….


Medical librarianship, because that is where my heart is. In fact, that is a mixture of two subjects already: medicine and librarianship. I’m specialized in Evidence Based Medicine and Searching: those are the main topics. I worked for more than 15 years as a scientists: science (and especially immunology, genetics, cancer, nutrition) is a favorite subject as well. I have (secondary) Addison’s Disease, so that inspires me to write about patient-related matter. Furthermore I like to continue writing about web 2.0 tools. Seldomly I will blog about real personal things. But I do plan to write about certain things that happened, little stories, that relate to my life as a scientist, librarian or patient. For instance “the radioactive rat” will be an upcoming story.
My posts are mostly of the “review kind”, they are quite long, go in depth and are “cramped with visuals” according to some and “as easy to skip as to read it all”.
My first public consisted of Spoetnik collegues and some interested Dutch librarians 2.0: Dymphie and Wowter. In the beginning I felt like Berci expressed in his slide “Once upon a time on WordPress.com”: very lonely. Similar to Berci, this situation changed when I started to write in English. Till recently I wrote both in English and Dutch, but from now on I will concentrate on English: it costs too much time, most Dutch read English, and since the Spoetnik Cours is over, I get few Dutch responses anyway.
Since I write about many topics I get a broad public. This blog does well in the ratings. It is in the Top 50 Health 2.0 Blogs list ( see here), was high in the Medblog top 25, got a very good critique from the Library + Information Gazette“ (see this post) and a high technorati ranking (up to 43, now 41).

But does this mean I have build up a community? Not necessarily. Although people link to my blog, I don’t get many comments and there aren’t many feed subscribers. That is possibly the consequence of writing in depth about many specialistic topics. For people just interested in either medicine, library or web 2.0 tools there may be too many posts about trivial things (the other subjects). Furthermore, although I do participate in medicine blog carnivals, I think that it is hard for a medical librarian to become part of the medical community.

Similar to many other blogs, the audience of this blog are mainly other bloggers (in the health field), as well as non-blogging medical librarians (including colleagues) and people googling. Many Dutch colleagues read my blog, but few have an RSS-feed or participate in blog discussions. However,that may be general for bloggers: they tend to link more than discuss.
In the first months I got a maximum of 30-50 visitors per day, and sometimes 2-5 during the weekend. Now I regularly get 100 visitors a day and in the weekend no less than 30. My top day was in June: 192 visitors.


Which posts are most successful and which one is my favorite? I guess I like the mixture the most.
If I have to choose I prefer those posts that discuss in depths the ins and outs of a topic (be it health, library or science-related), especially if they make a difficult health subject understandable to many, e.g. “The best study design… for dummies” and “The (un)usefulness of regular breast exam.”
The series about the PubMed: Past, Present And Future, was the most visited, with PART II being viewed 388 times and PART I: 200 times

About 95% of my posts are written at home. I do consult Twitter and the statistictics of my blog regularly, also at work.

Most posts take a lot of time. Keeping up with your sources, browsing, sifting ideas, reading more about the subject, writing, putting figures in the posts (not easy in WordPress), making links, translating into Dutch. It takes me 1 hour – 1 day for one post. I spend 10-20 hours per week on blogging (in the broad sense of the word)

WHY Continue?

  • I like writing
  • I hope to stir up some discussion (but I’m happy with people reading or linking)
  • I learn a lot of other bloggers, microblogging (twitter), RSS-feeds (also of Journals). Since I blog/RSS I keep much better informed and it inspires me to come up with new ideas.
  • By (micro)blogging I keep in touch with other bloggers
  • Some things need to be criticised.
  • Some things are good to call attention to.
  • Ideally, I would like to mix the knowledge and tips gathered elsewhere with my own knowledge and pass it through in a digestible way to others: doctors, nurses, patients, scientists, libarians, teachers
  • I hope that by blogging about health 2.0 I can enthuse non-blogging health- or library experts for web 2.0. Eventually I may even want to give courses on medicine 2.0 or to use web 2.0 tools for education (medical students, staff)

(possibly I’m too late for the carnival, but this post was written under harsh condition. Lying sideways on a sofa in a public room, somewhere in Germany, because there is no wifi at my room, and the batteries only hold for 15 minutes, and the large wooden table is too far from the electric point. Well the musing was useful anyway…)



One response

3 10 2008

Thank you very much.
I was waiting for this one.
BTW, I think it is a wise decission to stick to English on this blog. It is clear from the audience flags on the right. You have a larger audience than only the Dutch library community and it is a logical consequence that you stick to English. It is to much work to maintain similar mesaages in both languages.

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