The Hermetic Library Tumblr gets a gander by Frank the Sheep (any relation to Frank the Goat?), a library science student, as part of their final project over at “The Hermetic Library“. The final project, apparently for LIBR 500: Foundations of Information Technology coursework, specifically looks at library engagements in social networks, but focused specifically on libraries as they engage others through Tumblr.
“For library tumblrs therefore I will be evaluating how the library uses the platform, how it fits with the overall mission of the library, whether the tumblr is still functioning, and if anyone is following it as a way of measuring of how successful it is/was.”
The evaluation of the Hermetic Library tumblog specifically, observes:
“Fitting clearly with the library’s over-all focus are numerous images and quotes with esoteric and pagan themes. Notably, in contrast with other library tumblrs, the majority of the posts are in fact re-postings, with clear links to the original poster. This takes advantage of tumblr’s ability to be a curator of multiple sources of information, so that people interested in the themes that the Hermetic Library specializes in can follow those interests from a large selection of sources, choosing who’s work they may want to follow back to see more of the same artist, text, or website — but leaving the effort of finding and selecting the material up to the tumblr administrator. There are an enormous amount of material in the past few months, but in the beginnings (Sept 2009), the tumblr relied much more on the library’s own material and updated every few days only. This tumblr follows the lead of several design and art tumblrs I’ve seen that post several images a day without commentary. It is up to the follower to pick and choose which images grab them the most out of the collection.”
Actually, my recollection is that I created an account with Tumblr in March 2011, and experimented with it briefly, then left it to languish until October 2011 when I began to use it in earnest. Posts prior to March 2011 are actually retroactively added, as I’ve been working through the old posts from Facebook which start in Sept 2009, when I took over the site, and have been adding them to the archives on the blog. As I add older posts to the archives of the blog, I sometimes select to also post them to the Tumblr to enlarge the archive there and also again to Facebook for the nostalgia. So, while the frequency definitely has changed and also fluctuated over time, and will continue to do so, the marked drop-off in frequency at Oct 2011 and March 2011 are artefacts.
It’s been interesting to decide how and where and in what way to engage in social networks. I actually started with Facebook, Twitter and Delicious when I took over. I never utilized the Delicious feed, and in fact stopped using Delicious for my personal bookmarking also, so took mention of Delicious off the site. Originally, I was posting first to Facebook and had that automatically reposted to Twitter. Several changes later, I currently post primarily to the self-hosted WordPress blog for the library which then feeds to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and elsewhere. I do also occasionally post directly to Facebook, but my primary direct engagement with people is through Twitter. I also take advantage of the peculiar nature of Tumblr and re-blog quite a few images and quotes, which re-blogs are then re-posted to Facebook. This points out something very specific, and that also explains a bit of the change in the Tumblr presence between March 2011 and Oct 2011: I try to figure out the way that people are engaging in a specific social network and then whether I can include that in my workflow for the Hermetic Library. I actually have a number of other social network accounts which I don’t use because I don’t yet have a purpose for them that fits with what I want to do, in both form and function, or that I just don’t engage with those specific networks otherwise. For example, Google+ just doen’t fit in with my workflow at all, not personally nor for Hermetic Library, so I don’t post there; if it ever does then I’d use it, but I won’t force myself to use it or go out of my way to engage there. Another example is, say, Pinterest, where I created an account recently, but haven’t used because I have not figured out how or if it fits in with my overall purpose of engaging people around the materials and subject matter of the Hermetic Library. In other words, I have avoided engagements in social networks that don’t fit what I’m trying to do, and have focused on creating a presence within the prevailing custom of those in which I do engage.
Another interesting lesson for me, which I learned for myself from the way I engage on my personal blog, is that the frequency, quality and quantity of posting will fluctuate, and to be okay with that. Things change. The way I engage in any particular social network, both personally and as part of the mission of the Hermetic Library, will change over time. I’m okay with that and actually I think that’s completely natural, as forcing some artificial and immutable standard of schedule or form would actually lead to more likely burnout and be detrimental to the sustainability of all or any engagement in social networks. In other words, I think change is part of sustainable social network interaction, and also one of the points of social networks is that they are not rote, remote and mechanical but actually more varied, organic and personal. However, change also freaks people out, so I’m prepared to hear complaints about things sometimes from people who get used to some specific form of engagement when that changes; but, at the end of the day, sustainability is more important to me personally, and also, frankly, I’m going to continue to engage in what I’m enthusiastic about and that will change.
“If I were to suggest anything for the library’s use of the tumblr it would be to post less frequently in favour of occasionally posting images with commentary and that can be linked back to library materials, as well as re-posting thematically appropriate content. This would engage followers with the library in a more direct way and support the relationships and cross-references they wrote about in their mission page.”
Yeah, it’s an ongoing experiment in how to participate on Tumblr in a way specific to itself. For example, I’m not using Tumblr to microblog, as I have Twitter. I’m not using Tumblr to blog, as I have WordPress; and in fact the blog is much more focused on a lower frequency and content curated from the site or specific to the site’s subject matter. I’m not using Tumblr as a website, I’ve got that in spades. The question for me has been, how to engage Tumblr specific to itself and the custom of those using it while also furthering the overall mission of engaging people in social networks on behalf of the Hermetic Library. So, currently anyway, I engage Tumblr as a somewhat outer concentric circle, around the core engagement of the website itself and the closer engagement on the blog.
Another example of this is also how I curate differently even within Tumblr itself between what I post or re-blog and what, within the idiom of Tumblr itself, I “like”. When I first started to engage on Tumblr, I didn’t offer a link on the sidebar to those posts that I “liked” but then added that later. However, I have a clear distinction for myself that what I “like” on Tumblr can be both less closely related to the subject matter or the site and, also, less safe work work. For example, I try to re-blog directly nothing more than artistic nudity and avoid directly posting overt sex. Even still, I do avoid overt pornography either way.
I was actually posting over 30 from the queue for a while, but stepped that down to 24, so one an hour now. But, it seems to me that’s part of what Tumblr is, for people who use it, and I’ll probably continue that method of engagement even if it is more indirect than otherwise could be if I were to curate more specific postings with commentary. After all, that’s more closely how I engage on the blog, and so there is a place where I do that already. I’m not looking to have each method of engagement exactly or simply mirror the others, but in fact am looking for the opposite, to differentiate.