Monday, 30 June 2008

Blogs, forums, email lists, interactions

Perhaps slightly off topic for this blog, but germane to the Digital Curation Centre, this post records some different levels of interactions on this blog, the DCC Forum (which we are thinking of closing), and the semi-closed DCC-Associates email list.

On 20 May, 2008, Dave Thompson of the Wellcome Trust posted to the DCC Forum, asking about the relative merits of archiving RAW versus TIFF images. His post only got one response, from our own web editor, Graeme Pow. On 28 May, Maureen Pennock (one of this blog's co-authors) posted Dave's query to this blog. Someone linked to this post, but it was only to suggest that some of her readers might have an answer. Maureen had made some remarks, and the post got one further comment, prompted by the linked post (make that two comments via the blog).

On 25 June, Graeme Pow sent an email with a link to the original DCC Forum article, this time on the DCC-Associates email list. This is a closed list, but open to anyone who registers (currently free) as an Associate of the DCC (which gives some advantages for DCC Events etc). In the few days since then, this email has received 19 responses. As usual there have been some divergences; one branch has been discussing the cost of storage, for instance, which clearly has relevance to such decisions, but slightly off the original topic. In the past few days, 8 people have asked to be added to the list, and two people have asked to be taken off the list because of "high traffic" (although this is the first item to generate anything like this traffic for quite a while now).

We originally set up the Forum to deal with this "high traffic" problem. In most cases it seems to have done that rather too well; people don't "go and check" for interesting articles. I'm not sure the RSS feed gets used that much. This blog is an attempt to reach out to a wider audience and to link into the "blogosphere". It does achieve both, but at a cost: DCC Associates can no longer post to the blog (although I'm quite happy to post queries for them).

Personally, I think the success of this particular DCC-Associates post was due at least in part to its connection with an area of common experience in digital photographic images. But I have found the amount and rate of response very interesting. Of course, most readers of this blog cannot see this discussion, so I plan to ask respondents if I can quote them (selectively) in a summary blog post later.

Some background information: the DCC-Associates list has 572 members. The same people can post entries or responses to the Forum. The highest number of responses we have ever got for an entry on the Forum was 21; however most entries get a few or zero responses (out of 48 posts to one section, 17 had no responses). The highest number of responses I can find for the Digital Curation Blog was 6 plus one link, although the Negative Click Repository post got 8 links as well as 2 comments. The "Technorati Authority" of this blog is currently 26 (meaning, I believe, that 26 different blogs have linked to this one in main text rather than comments, in the past 6 months). I would guess the actual readership is less than the DCC-Associates list membership, but is more open, eg to posts being found via an Internet search.


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