Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blog - looking for a solution to a couple of problems

This is something of a cry for help.

1) I am sure that most of you have noticed that whenever I go away the blog ceases to be updated for a while because I simply cannot keep up with it. It takes a minimum of an hour a day to update, and when I'm away that isn't convenient. Next week I'll be somewhere with no web connection so it won't even be updated sporadically.
When I return to London from wherever I've been the blog takes hours to update. There are so many things wade through to find the items that might be of interest. Until you do something like this you have no idea how many frogs you have to kiss before you find a few princes, metaphorically speaking! When I came back from my father's place this time (only five days) there were over 600 Google Alerts waiting for me. Sticking my head in a bucket of freezing water would have been a rather more attractive option. I just don't have those spare hours.

2) I keep posting out of date articles because I don't have time or the energy to check every article, and my memory is apparently pretty useless because I don't recall posting things previously (the post re the Horemheb tomb opening is a good example). The number of times I've posted out of date "news" items recently is truly demoralizing. It is okay to make the occasional mistake but I'm making too many at the moment.

3) Usually, the stuff I post isn't actually news. Travel stories, magazine/journal announcements and book and exhibition reviews seem to dominate, even during the excavation season. It is more a matter of aggregating other people's online articles and posts and I have no idea what value this really is to people. Access to real news is restricted by the rules and regs of the SCA. I'm not sure that what I'm doing here is particularly useful. You could probably get the same results by intelligent use of Google Reader.


I was wondering if there couldn't be a better way of doing this. I've thought of various ideas - restricting the content to certain categories of news, opening the blog out to collective ownership, offering to transfer ownership to someone else, or just shutting it down altogether. But all options seem to have problems with them. So I'm hoping that someone will have a better idea.

I started the blog for fun, and it is now more of a headache than anything.

I don't know what the answer is but if any of you has a magic wand that you can wave (or just a good idea or two) I'd be very grateful!

Cheers
Andie

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you can find a solution that keeps this going as it is an important bit of fun for me.

Anonymous said...

Please don't stop. I love your blog. I like the content and I don't mind that it isn't always updated asap. I have it linked to an RSS feed so I see it every day and I get really excited when the updates come. Please keep it up.

George said...

By presenting a broad range of Egyptology experiences and stories, you have captured the vitality of this field in a unique and engaging manner. As a result, this thing you have created is really much more than the sum of its parts. Through your blog I have learned of exhibitions I would not otherwise have known to attend, read books I did not know about, and first heard of major discoveries. Whatever you decide to do, Thank you. Please do consider, however, continuing.
I do not mind the delays or repetitions. In fact, your absences are a reminder that this is coming from a real person rather than a seach engine. It is the one thing I check online every day, and always lifts my spirits.

Anonymous said...

Andie i would also like to add my comment as to what a superb job you are doing and how much i love your blog. Please do not even consider stopping as it would not be the same with out you. I have not noticed any repeated articles and i am sure its only happened once or twice and even if it has so what! Best regards Dave

kat newkirk said...

Dear Andie,

PLEASE don't stop the blog! In the next week or so I'm getting a new computer, so I'll be able to post directly to the blog if you like. Meanwhile, why reinvent the wheel? Just check the emails I send you first, as I use Google in 15 different AE-related categories, plus Yahoo as well. I just don't have the patience with rude ppl that you do, and it shows sometimes.

Much love,

kat newkirk

Anonymous said...

This is the first thing that I do each day and look forward to it very much. Thank you for your efforts and please don't stop.

Anonymous said...

Every day of mine starts with checking your blog. I hope you will be able to find a solution. Be care not to catch a cold!

Ben Morales-Correa said...

Dear Andie by now you have a pretty good idea how valuable your Egyptology blog is. I won't add much in that area, other than support the other comments. Instead I offer you some suggestions. Egyptology News is a well developed website. Perhaps it's the right time to focus more on fewer but more significant information on Egyptology which allows you more space and time to comment upon them and gives us further insight. You don't need to work on your blog every single day. I know how you feel about twitter, but adding a twitter section on my blog to link to ever repeating information about what the mainstream media regards as "hot" has relieved me of much labor while keeping my readers updated. May I also suggest monetizing your site. We all need time to keep a blog and it's only fair to see our task somehow financially compensated so we can feel like we can devote more time if needed.

I agree with George - "Whatever you decide to do, Thank you. Please do consider, however, continuing."

Anonymous said...

Andie -

While I think that opening "postability" to your collective audience is a bad idea, I do think you should have a few more of your more faithful readers have access to the blog to make contributions.

I know Ben is one person that has made posts from time to time, but you do get an awful lot of feedback from others such as Tim.

Anyway, I think you should leave the blog uop, but just not assume all the searching and postting responsibilities yourself. This way, the blog becomes less of a headache and fun again for you.

Just my two cents.

~Aaron

Anonymous said...

Personally I think the word "fun"
in your note is the most important.
A blog should be fun, not a daily pressure or a stressfull/pesky job. I think that means that you could (at times?) restrict the kind of items a bit, namely to those that interest YOU (YOU!). That likely means (a) the main news articles only or the ones that 'speak' to YOU (and that will not be everything by far), and (b) a focus on the desert (your pet, I believe, and one not represented in other blogs), and (c) you own adventures (exhibit visits, books read, etc).
I think you can do this without feeling guilty, as there are after all quite a few blogs around which
cover a lot of the same ground (Ben, Victor, etc). In short: some selfishness saves sanity. ;)
And as others said: with much of the material, there is not really a time pressure, and could be done
once or twice per week.
Such personalizing and relaxed timing together could give a bit more breathing space. After all, it would be worse if the blog becomes a noose that makes you give up on it altogether one day!

Anonymous said...

Andie -

I just read my post, and it is confusing (I am at work and not able to direct full attention to what I am typing).

When I mentioned that Tim posts a lot, I meant comments. I know he runs his own bogs, so he may not have the time. However, there may be a group of ten people or so that do have the time.

Anyway, I would be willing to post from time to time. I know I never comment here using my blogger ID, but that is only because I can't log into it at work.

~Aaron

Anonymous said...

Andie please please do not stop. The blog has become part of my life now and as soon as i get up in the mornings i make a coffee read the BBC front page then look at Egyptology news. It is so varied and refreshing. There are some misery guts around who love to try and trip people up and it does not help that the SCA, Hosni and Hawass constantly repeat themselves, do not meet deadlines and issue old news all the time. U could have a week off occ and have a guest blogger take over like Tim.

Vincent said...

Hi Andie,

I feel for you and understand very much how it can easliy get ontop of you and rob you of time. I have focused my blog specifically on Pyramids but still find it difficult sometimes to make the time to write articles with any depth. A good post that gives value to the reader requires research and this can be very time consuming.

I also use my Twitter account www.twitter.com/bennu for more general Egyptology news and this can take hours a day sorting through the hundreds of stories each day just to find 10 or so items to post. I have thought about automating this task but as you've realised, most of the Google Alerts serve up news items that are not worth posting. You could write to Alun from http://archaeoastronomy.wordpress.com to get his feedback as he has been working on creating his own technical methods of automating the process.

Alternatively, like others who've commented you could leave the site up, break up the task to other such as Tim, Kat, Ben, and anyone else who is interested. I'd also be happy to post something here once a week.

I think if we band together we can lighten your workload and keep Egyptology News alive and kicking.

tim said...

Hi Andie

I know I run two blogs where I put three to seven posts most days, this takes enough time.

Your Egyptology News is far more broad in its scope and depth, that takes a lot of your time I appreciate that.

Blogging should be fun and knowing that you are providing an informative blog is fun! However I did not start my own blogs to keep me from living and enjoying life.

Some blogs do not publish on the weekend while other sites once a week. I myself skim the archaeological news and try not to publish to much as it does take up time when my time might be better spent elsewhere.

Priorities change, you can't stop change it is best to guide it into the positive. I suspect less is more!

Cheers and thanks for the Egyptology News

Shoveling Ferret said...

Hi!
I've been following this blog for ages and have always enjoyed it, so I hope you can find a solution that works for you. I like the broad range of topics, too. If it's becoming too much, then I completely understand why you might want to move away from it.
I do think maybe making a few of your usual sources/helpers co-authors would be a wonderful idea - maybe you could divvy up work by topic, days of week, weeks of month or something similar? I wouldn't make it a free-for-all, though. That's just asking for trouble.

Anonymous said...

I head here every morning. Don't care if it's old news. I mean we're dealing with ancient Egypt! I'm uneducated in this, but read everything I can find and your blog is one of the best finds I've ever made. Leads to so many interesting places.
Please, please, don't give up. I'd help if I could, but don't know how.

Ingeborg W/ said...

Dear Andie,

I feel for you, I really do. Hobbies can get out of control and just become a big monster lurking in the corner.

That said, I really love your moster, just as many previous posters above me stated and it became a fixed source for me daily. (Wake up, get tea, check email, check national news, local news, Andie's news...)

All I can think of to ease your blog burden and still keep some fun is just for you to tune down the frequency and update once or twice a week on more or less fixed days so your guests know when to look and it doesn't overwhelm you.

As for the subjects, you always offer a nice mix with something for everyone and we trust your judgement, so just pick & choose what you think will suit best.

Whatever you decide, it's been great and oodles of fun over the years and I thank you for that with a very big THANKS!!!

Much love,
Ingeborg

Anonymous said...

Hi Andie i would come in again and endorse everything Ingeborg W has just said. It would'nt do any harm to report a little less frequently and concentrate on the items you find particularly interesting. Everyone seems to be expressing strong support and appreciation for all your hard work and i hope this show of support influences your decision. Best regards Dave H

Anonymous said...

Andie,Please please please don't stop! Like others have said your blog is my first stop. Please don't feel bad for posting sporadically, if you can't post or don't have time to post don't worry about it! It should be as much fun for you to do as it is for us to read. I just want you to know how much I appreciate all the time and effort you put in. I think you are pretty amazing for all the work you put in! Charlie x

Kate Phizackerley said...

I couldn't easily post a comment last night so I emailed Andie but having thought it through, I've refined my suggestions.

* * *

News from the Valley of the Kings takes a lot of time and I deliberately kept the focus tight. I'm amazed you have run this blog for as long as you have. I'd love for it to continue in it's present form but I don't think that's in your best interests. I also would far rather that you had time to add commentary to one or two posts on subjects which interest you, than spend hours reposting travelogues. We are missing the best you have to offer.

At the same time I don't want to lose having one place on the Web that people can for news about Ancient Egypt.

At http://kv64.info, I've managed to get several Blogger blogs under one banner. Once somebody has found one, it's easy to find others. We can get an aggregation of newsfeeds into a structure like that as well.

So my suggestion, Andie, would be to create a portal for Egyptology blogs. We can run in some standard newsfeeds and have one blog which is a collaborative effort from whomever has time posting stories that aren't on the newsfeed to the load around. Within that you can then have your own blog (or blogs) on the subjects that interest you - the things you find fun to write about but where you don't feel a commitment to do it every day. You can add blogs from anybody else so if you wanted a blog from somebody like Kat or Ben, that could just go alongside. If you wanted, I could migrate News from the Valley of the Kings into the structure. (Each blog can sit in a different Blogger account - it's only a ommon theme and some cross-links. New blogs can be added at any time - or blogs dropped if they go off beam.

It seems to me that offers a balance between you having a blog that interests you and keeping somewhere on the Web where people can find out about most of what's going on in Egypt. Equally we can offer individual newsfeeds for anybody who wants to follow one particular blog, or a common newsfeed for all of the blogs on the portal for anyone who wants everything.

If you want to know more, I'm happy to take the time to explain in more detail and obviously commit any time needed to get it set up if you wanted to do it.

Kate Phizackerley said...

At the risk of exceeding my comment ration :) I'd like to comment on what Vincent said. I think Newsfeeds and Google Alerts is somewhere where it may make sense to work together. I suspect many of us are spending time doing much the same things.

I've not got many tips for Google Alerts but I can filter newsfeeds pretty effectively.

Kate

Anonymous said...

Pierre from Canada here

I hope you keep this going...while it may be possible to find some of the news through google for example, i find this blog site wonderful in that it aggregates everything of importance into one cool place. There are a large number of things i would never have learned if it had not been for you and i want to assure you that I for one (i'm sure others will agree) really don't mind if some news bit get's repeated once in a while. We understand the huge amount of information out there and i'm sure it takes a lot of effort to sift through everything...

We appreciate you ANDIE....please don't stop...

Debra Conway said...

Everyone has given you some very good ideas and advice. I simply want to thank you--from someone that has wanted to be an Archaeologist from a very young age but reared my children instead. :) I visit your site regularly and appreciate being able to find many many interesting articles that I otherwise would have missed. Your site gives me a window into a world I dreamed about as a young girl.

Debra

OsirisNet said...

Dear Andie,
Your blog is wonderful, and should not be closed.
As you know, I am running OsirisNet, and you can imagine that I understand your problems quite well. Never have I had such a time eating occupation in my whole life (and I am 54). From a pastime, it has become a job.
I do not think, like some people write here, that maintaining a website or a blog should always be fun. Once you have reached a certain level of popularity, as you have, it becomes responsability. People are awaiting your articles. And that's a very great reward to know that you bring something valuable to others.
This does not mean that it should be boring to run a blog, not at all. What I want to say is that we each find our own, personnal, reward in what we are doing.And you certainly have one or more.
Moreover, I too have experienced discouragement. Everyday, I am struggling to try to get photographs for our tombs. And I get very few. I get promises, yes, but not one out of ten is a man (or a woman) of his word.
Not to speak of the discouragment when, after having released pages that took you so much time and sweat to produce, that you know having been read by thousands of people, without any feed back.

After those general considerations, I dare suggest the following points :
1) As some people already wrote, you do not need to report on each paper dealing with ancient Egypt. You can make a choice.
2) You should not, never, receive 600 google alerts! Your research field is too vast.
3) you have the chance to be helped by reliable friends, Kate and Ben. When you cannot update your blog, let them do it for you.
But do not open the blog to everyone, it would be a great mistake. First you have a high standard of quality to maintain, and second, it is easy to loose control of things.
4) If you cannot make updates for some times, if you miss some information, it is not important!
5) good books, interesting websites, even novels out of the strict field of Egyptology are (often) more interesting then the 305th mummy to be scanned in this or that institution (you understand what I mean).

As a conclusion, I would like to tell you once more that you are doing a great job with your blog. It must not disappear from the egyptological field. You just have to find how to adapt it to you, and not the reverse.
All the best
Thierry BENDERITTER
www.osirisnet.net
Monuments of Egypt

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed your blog.

Now I miss it. But I check every day in case you have added something.

I hope you find a solution that makes you happy to continue.

I for one have not minded any out of date material or delays in posting as I likely would not have found the material otherwise.

Thank you for what you have done!

Peter said...

I have two children. My son (9) is named Seti, my daughter (5) is named Nefertari. How much do I love Egyptology?! I have been fortunate to go to Egypt twice and your blog keeps me returning there everyday. My son already reads your blog when I let him use the computer. His appreciation for what Egypt is/used to be is thanks to folks like you! THANK YOU for the hard work you put in on our behalf every day! If you need some photos (Im a photojournalist) I would be happy to contribute a few things. THANKS AGAIN!