Saturday, March 5, 2011

State of the library and information science blogosphere

Back around 2006, blogs were the height of fashion, like the Tamagotchi in 1996. Blogs, like Tamagotchi, need to be cared for regularly to survive. Torres-Salinas et al. (unfortunately behind a paywall) set out to check what happened to library and information science blogs in the years 2006-2009.

For the study, the authors selected to analyze the blogs indexed in the search engine Libworm (n=1108). Most of the blogs were from 2006 (n=1030), because Libworm stopped indexing new blogs since the beginning of 2007. The study's time frame was between November 2006 and June 2009.


Blogs are difficult to maintain. Even with the generous definition of an active blog as a blog which published at least one post a year, by 2009 only 622 blogs remained active, a drop of 43% from 2006. Out of the 1108 blogs active 2006-2009, only 572 blogs remained that way during the entire study (almost 52% became inactive).

When applying a more strict definition of "active" (at least one post per month between Nov. 06 and June 09) the numbers go down even more: from 804 blogs at the beginning to 454 at the end (fig. 1.). Blogs went extinct at a rate of 11 per month.

Fig. 1. Going down: LIS blogs publishing at least one post per month between November 2006 and June 2009 (Source: Torres-Salinas et al, 2011)

Top LIS blogs

The web-visiblity of each one of the 1108 blogs was calculated by PageRank, number of links from Google and Technorati authority. In table 4 of the paper, the authors show the top 30 blogs according to these indicators and in comparison to past papers (the ranking part is presented in fig. 2. here) .

fig. 2. Ranking of the 30 top blogs.

Most of the blogs were written in English, and the most frequently linked blogs were Blog of a Bookslut, John Battelle's Searchblog and Official Google Blog. The average number of posts per month for a blog in the top list was 63, and the highest PageRank was 8, for Official Google Blog and Stephen (no. 26 on the list).

Personal Vs. corporate blogs
Fifty-eight percent of the blogs in the sample were personal blogs, and they produced 79% of the posts, on average 301 per year. Corporate blogs have lesser visiblity, according to the rankings, and less impact.

Libworm's coverage of LIS blogs is limited, to say the least, and it mostly index British and American blogs (91.4%) of the sample. Also, the "active" blog definition of one post per year for yearly trend and one post a month for a monthly trend is very wide.

Note: Edited due to a comment. I'd like to thank the commenter.

While there was a decline in the number of active blogs in the sample, it is to be expected, due to the fixed sample in the study. The authors suggest that this marked decline of active LIS blogs in the study is because of the growth of Twitter, Facebook, etc. and bring a figure showing a decrease in research papers dealing with blogs and increase in papers about "Twitter or Facebook or Myspace or Web 2.0" to indicate that LIS scholars are more interested in social networks these days.

However, it is possible that while LIS scholars study and publish papers about social networks, they continue to use blogs as sources of information. Also, as far as I'm aware, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Myspace are usually considered a part of Web 2.0, so I'm not sure why the authors chose to mention each one separately.

Fig. 3.

Number of articles and reviews about Web 2.0 and blogs indexed by ISI Web of Science published between 2006 and 2009

The authors also suggest that further research will validate their assumption, but that remains to be seen. Perhaps a sample of blogs from each year separately would have been better for that kind of a study.

Torres-Salinas et al. (2011). State of the library and information science blogosphere after social networks boom: A metric approach Library & Information Science Research :


  1. Interesting post, but these data don't warrant the conclusion that "the rise of Twitter and social networks is correlated with a decrease in active blogs". By definition, the number of active blogs can only decrease in this type of analysis, since new blogs aren't being considered. It couldn't have turned out any other way. To determine whether there's an actual decrease in blogging, you'd need to look at the number of new blogs being created and/or maintained for a certain period of time. I'd be quite surprised if there's any decrease in that sense, and if anything, would expect an increase.

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