In the not-quite-a-year that this blog has been live, 20 people have written for it. Many have contributed one post; a few are regular contributors. Because the scope of the blog is so broad, I am thrilled to have had voices from IT, Research and Education, and Special Collections and Area Studies, in addition to Collections, Technical Services, and Scholarly Communications (my wheelhouse). One of my goals for this blog is to have it serve as a showcase for the huge variety of digital scholarship-related work that is done in the Libraries, and, while we’ve only scratched the surface, it already gives a flavor of that through sheer variety. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first large group blog we have had here at the Libraries. It’s also the first time many of the contributors have had to directly confront ‘digital scholarship’ as a topic, so it’s not surprising that my invitations to my colleagues to write for it are often met with questions like, “Wait…what do you want me to write about?” I also get lots of questions about appropriate post length and voice. Since those questions come up so frequently, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a post…about how to write a post. I think I will structure it as a series of questions:
Q: What should I write about?
A: Read the definition of digital scholarship in the post I linked to above, and think of anything you do that relates. It’s a pretty broad definition, so odds are you can find something. I would also encourage you to think about what you want to get out of writing for the blog. Do you want an excuse to learn more about a particular topic? Is there something interesting happening in your area that you want your colleagues to know about? Do you want to show off your (or the Libraries’) expertise in a given area? Being aware of why you’re writing will not only help motivate you to get it done, it will help focus your writing.
Q: How much should I write?
A: How much do you want to write? How much do you have to say about your topic? I know that’s a total non-answer, but I’m not going to turn away your post because it’s too short or too long. There are posts that consist of a link and a few sentences of context, and that’s fine. There are some that are much longer, and that’s great, too. One caution with long posts, though – blogs work best in easily-digestible chunks, so if you have a lot to say, it might be best to break it up into two or more posts. I would also caution you against biting off more than you can chew. If the topic you want to write about is going to require a month of research and writing, you might want to consider scaling it down. Not that I’m opposed to having well-researched content on the blog, but odds are you will just keep putting it off indefinitely because it’s too big a task and really – is it worth it if you’re just going to end up with a blog post? Most of the time it’s best to pick something you can bang out in an hour or two.
Q: What sort of writing style should I use?
A: There is no prescribed style for the blog. Some people write very formally; others compare their work to their children’s favorite movie. My preference is for a more conversational style, but whatever you’re comfortable with is ok.
I think that covers it. Have an idea for a post? Let me know!