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State of the Blog 2008

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As the president prepares to take his annual look ahead in the State of the Union, I thought I might do the same for this blog and get feedback from readers.

Our friends at DipNote (the State Department’s official blog) did just that a few weeks ago:

Since launch, we have made a strong attempt to get you on-the-ground blogging and will continue to strive for more of this in 2008. Also in the new year, we plan on addressing design/redesign issues, upgrading the design and functionality of our photo gallery, launching a micro blogging effort via Twitter, and embarking on joint partnerships to provide further opportunities for an interactive user experience. And, of course, we will continue to provide as much behind the scenes content as possible.

There is nothing like a little collegial inspiration to keep things fresh and relevant, right?

In that spirit, I do want to be a better blogger in 2008, posting more interesting content and peeling back the curtain even more.

I’d also like to inveigle one or more co-bloggers into the fold. Yes, it eats away at me when I’m able to post only sporadically.

There are some design enhancements I hope to see,  for instance, useful features such as “most recent comments” in the sidebar and a more thoughtful approach to blogrolling.

I’ve also been mulling an actual name for this blog. “Library of Congress Blog” is about a tautological as it gets, no? I’m open to ideas, but the leading candidate in my mind is “The Fourth Door.” There are three magnificent bronze doors entering into the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building representing three communications revolutions: oral tradition, writing and printing. Around here, we often say that our Web site, which gets tens of millions of visits each year, is a metaphorical “fourth door” through which we help impart knowledge and wisdom. As far as I can tell, though, no one here has actually taken that name, so I might have to call squatter’s rights.

Finally, like our nation’s diplomatic corps, I have been giving some thought to Twitter. The indispensable Justin Thorp recently showed me the Twitter ropes and dispelled a few of my more, shall we say, cynical notions about microblogging. Granted, answers to the question “What are you doing?” might be more interesting coming from a DipNote blogger tromping through the jungle in Burundi than from a guy like me dodging the traffic on Second Street to get a cup of coffee.

Still, we’re learning more and more about social media each day, and we’re putting our toes into the water wherever it seems to make the most sense.

What do readers think can or should be done better with this blog?

And to a previous commenter who asked when we might have a YouTube page, I will just say: Stay tuned.

Comments (21)

  1. I hand you every encouragement and incitement. I think it’s great you are blogging. Use twitter at least for announcements, and for whatever pretty much strikes your fancy. On blog, I would love to see more general commentary, which might be hard, and also occasional guest blogs from within LoC (“what the heck are those folks doing??”). Do not turn this into the equivalent of the Google Book Search blog, which weirdly mixes hard news and pseudo-inspirational tidbits about the wonders of full text book search. (“And my mother in Logovonia uses GBS too … “).

  2. I like the name of this blog as it is. It’s not catchy, but it is perfectly descriptive.

    The fact that this is a sanctioned voice of the LOC in the blogworld is what caught my attention.

    If it was called The Fourth Door I may well have passed it by.

    You’re doing a fine job Matt. Agreed that few guest bloggers is a good idea.

  3. I think “the fourth door” is perfect.

    Other suggestions: LOC unlocked; bLOC.
    The Fourth Door is simply the best.

  4. I agree with Bob, while the Fourth Door is a cool name, the Library of Congress Blog has more presence. With millions of blogs out there, the more descriptive the title the better.

    I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for the more casual commentary on new Library of Congress projects. While a press release is always good, it’s nice to see you get excited about things like the huge response to the Flickr page.

  5. The Fourth Door could be used as a tag line or a subtitle for the Library of Congress Blog. I’m intrigued by the possible moving images of a door in the blog header. The Fourth Door would work well as a space name in Second Life!

  6. I agree – I say stick with the name, and The Fourth Door could be a tag line (or a weekly feature?) I like that you’ll be “peeling back the curtain,” there seem to be some really interesting happenings in Preservation/Conservation, according to insiders I know, that might be neat to expose the rest of the world to! I also agree with Elisabeth – the casual commentary is really interesting, like with the Flickr and Waldsemuller Map events. You’re a great writer, look forward to many more posts!

  7. I agree that the official “LoC” name should be kept as it makes it clear where this info is coming from and that a few guest bloggers would be good (Jone Cole perhaps?). I also think you have been doing a great job of providing interesting behind the scenes info and highlighting cool stuff at the Library. Keep up the good work!

  8. Great feedback, all.

    Jennifer, I agree. Conservation is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating things we do here.

    Dianne van der Reyden, director of the Preservation Directorate, has no shortage of good ideas for me to write about. I just wish I could cover more of them!

    For starters, there are a few preservation-related posts that I have written here, here, here and here.

    The last of those four deals with the encasement for the 1507 Waldseemüller Map, which is now on ongoing exhibition in “Exploring the Early Americas.”

    Around the time the exhibit went live, I did a number of podcasts with Library experts, including Dianne. Unfortunately, those podcasts were posted to an “online pressroom” for journalists and haven’t quite made their way onto the public site yet. But allow me to change that, at least in terms of Dianne’s.

    For anyone interested in conservation work at the Library of Congress, you can download that podcast directly here. (27.4MB MP3, 24 minutes long)

    Let me know if you have any issues downloading or listening to it.

  9. LoC Blog is a great name – and a great blog. I enjoy getting a personal look at the LoC, its collections and the people who work there. It helps bring the vastness of the LoC collections down to size. Keep up the good work!

  10. Thanks for reminding me – the case installation and IRENE posts were two of my favorites you’ve done!

  11. Thank you for letting us know. This refreshed my memory. The Fourth Door as a Tagline – genious.

  12. I disagree with those who opt for a descriptive title. The Library of Congress is always going to be an authority – the audience will find it despite what it’s called. I like the Forth door – it is refreshing, hip, and yet meaningful. It may bring in more visitors by means of curiosity.

  13. I appreciate your blog. Don’t change the blog name – why mess with a perfect brand name? I’d like to see the use of more images whether drawings, photos, posters, etc. You might even consider short podcasts or video clips if appropriate. Multimedia not only enhances your writing but engages the reader. I’d also welcome occasional guest bloggers from LC. Thank you for asking for feedback.

  14. I don’t think you should change your name, either. The Library of Congress already has a pedigree.

    But I would agree, a few more “accessible” topics – and a few less “erudite” topics – would appeal to a larger reader base.


  15. This is my first time here and found it interesting enough to return. I think you should keep the name “Library of Congress Blog” for many obvious reasons, and I agree with those who have already suggested “The Fourth Door” would be great as a tag line or a subtitle.


  16. my .02 is to stay with Library of Congress Blog as well… the Fourth Door just does not tell you what it is…


  17. Definitely keep us up to date in regards to the youtube videos :).

  18. Thanks for reminding me – the case installation and IRENE posts were two of my favorites you’ve done!

  19. “Liblogy of .Comgress” would have been too casual…

  20. Thanks for reminding me – the case installation and IRENE posts were two of my favorites you’ve done!

  21. The concept of “the fourth door” is very attractive and well-directed and you started the blog where through the title, you have depicted the theme vividly and the point of elongation is also quite nice. You should stay with the Library of Congress as it’s already a reputable symbol and shouldn’t change it.

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