Task Force on Social Networking Software

Medical Library Association

Blogs – Does size matter?

Filed under: Task Force Updates — Melissa_Rethlefsen at 2:09 pm on Thursday, October 25, 2007

After I put out my analysis of the blog-related results of the Task Force survey, two of the big medical library blogs picked it up. First, David Rothman asked, “What do hospital librarians have against blogs?” and second, Michelle Kraft (a task force member) tried to answer. Both Michelle’s answer and the comments on David’s blog pointed to one major theme–hospital librarians generally work alone and thus have less time to experiment with these tools.

I have to admit, I initially skipped looking at the relationship of library size to use or belief of importance in the tools, even though I had initially suggested that knowing library size might be important to the survey. Apparently, I just decided that hospital libraries are small and academic libraries are big, so that using the library type was the equivalent of using library size. But, although speculation is well and good, after seeing David, Michelle, and the commenters’ thoughts, I knew library size’s relationship to blog use and belief of importance should be revisited. Here’s what I found out.

Is library size related to library type?

Undoubtedly, yes. I ran a cross-tab on the results and found that there is a very significant relationship between library size and library type (p=.0001). Here is the contingency table showing the results:

Library Type Solo 2-5 staff 6-10 staff 11-20 staff 21-40 staff 41-60 staff 61+ staff
Academic 2 20 20 35 88 50 28
Hospital 66 57 26 1 0 0 0
Other 23 17 8 10 10 4 18

Is library size related to blog use professionally?

Yes. The larger the library is, the more likely blogs are used “daily” or “weekly.” Respondents with 20-40 and 41-60 staff at their libraries are twice as likely to use blogs daily than solo librarians or respondents with 2-5 staff at their libraries. The mosaic plot below shows library size on the X axis, and frequency of professional use on the Y axis. On the Y axis, a “5″ represents “daily”; a “1″ represents “never.”

blogs-size-by-q6.JPG

Is library size related to blog use personally?

Yes, but to a lesser degree. Interestingly, respondents, no matter what the library size, more frequently “never” or “occasionally” use blogs for personal reasons than for professional ones. The mosaic plot below shows library size on the X axis, and frequency of personal use on the Y axis. On the Y axis, a “5″ represents “daily”; a “1″ represents “never.”

blogs-size-by-q10.JPG

The final question: Is library size related to belief of importance of blogs for MLA?

Yes. The larger the library, the more respondents felt blogs were “very important” to MLA. If both “very important” and “somewhat important” responses are conflated, however, the difference is much less. The mosaic plot below shows library size on the X axis, and belief of importance to MLA on the Y axis. On the Y axis, a “5″ represents “very important”; a “1″ represents “not at all important.”

blogs-size-by-q4.JPG

Numbers of course cannot explain why these differences exist, but Michelle, David, and the comments on those posts suggest a number of reasons: lack of time, work-enforced restrictions on web sites, and adversarial relationships with IT departments. Do you have more ideas?

[NOTE: updated title of David Rothman's blog post, which was grossly incorrect in my first version of this post.  My apologies.]

1 Comment

Comment by Brian

December 5, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

Could VOIS.com become another Facebook?

Since the advent of social networking sites in 1997, the phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Once called a passing fad social networking is now a thriving business, in 2006, alone it garnered over $6.5 billion in revenue, while the three biggest players, connected over 280 million subscribers in a way never known before to society. This form of connection has drawn the globe closer together than anyone ever predicted.

Just a few years ago, MySpace.com, solely dominated the social networking site market with almost 80% of the social networking site market but now websites like Facebook entered the social networking site race becoming the 8th most viewed website in the U.S. according to web measuring traffic site Alexa.com. Facebook.com which originally started at Harvard University , later extended to Boston area schools and beyond has mystified many naysayer’s with its explosive growth over the last three years and an astounding asking price of $10-$15 billion dollars for the company. But who will be next?

Who will carry the torch into the future?

With the rapid growth of the likes of MySpace and Facebook the burning question on everyone’s tongue is who is next? As with any burgeoning field many newcomers will and go but only the strong and unique will survive. Already many in the field have stumbled, as indicated by their traffic rankings, including heavily funded Eons.com with its former Monster.com founder at the helm, Hooverspot.com and Boomj.com with its ridiculous Web 3.0 slogan. There are many possibilities but it is a dark horse coming fast into view and taking hold in the social networking site market at the global level that has us interested the website – Vois.com. Less than a year ago, this newest contender directed at 25 to 50 years olds graced the absolute bottom of the list with its website ranked at a dismal 5,000,000. With not so much as a squeak this rising star has come from the depths of anonymity growing an eye-popping 10,000% in less than one year to make itself known worldwide now sporting a recent web traffic ranking in the 5,000 range.

Understanding the Market

When people in the United States hear about Facebook and other services such as MySpace the widely held belief is that these websites are globally used and are as synonymous as Google or Yahoo in regards to having a global market presence. This idea is completely misguided. Now it is true that both of these social networking giants are geared to service the western industrialized cultures but when it comes to the markets of the future, the emerging markets, they have virtually no presence. The sites themselves are heavily Anglicized, and Facebook in particular has an extremely complicated web interface that eludes even those familiar with the language, making them virtually inaccessible in other parts of the world even where English is the main language.

Our interest in Vois is global and geopolitical. Simply, Vois understands this lack of market service and is building its provision model on a global research concept developed by Goldman Sachs a few years ago. The concept is basically predicated on the belief that beginning now using current economic models and continuing those models over the next few decades will lead to a major paradigm shift in the world regarding nations who are current economic leaders like those being the USA and the other members of the G-7 and those who will become dominant in the world economy mainly the BRICs. In the Goldman research report Goldman highlights the fastest growing nations and has dubbed them with the two acronyms BRIC’s and N-11. BRIC standing for ( Brazil, R ussia, India and China) representing the fastest growing economies and N-11 or what are being called the Next-11 representing the next 11 countries to emerge as future important economies such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. This approach has already been implemented with some success with companies like Orkut, who has over 80% of the market share in Brazil and large holdings in India and Eastern Europe . Other providers such as Hi5 have the world as their focus and are making great strides in global market share while Facebook builds itself into a niche provider wholly unready to take on the world.

A Growing Presence

As Vois breaks new ground in the world market pursuing previously ignored demographics, they afford themselves the opportunity of tremendous growth unfettered by the giants such as Facebook and MySpace. While cultivating this new user base, Vois will also be able to monopolize on their business revenue strategies, creating an area of commerce that will make their site increasingly attractive to business and users the world over. This concept, dubbed sCommerce, allows the subscriber to promote themselves in both personal and a professional fashion while giving them the option of setting up shop on the site. This approach will allow business owners to target their market in a way never before allowing them to focus on interested groups of individuals while providing follow-up without having to commit to wasteful blanket campaigns that are typically the order of the day. This newfound border will allow Vois to explore new revenue models while provide a tremendous service for both their regular subscribers and business subscribers alike. With all this going on, rapid traffic growth to the site, we pose the question – is Vois the next Facebook, it sure looks like it but only time will tell?.

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