It has been exactly 10 years today since I started Information Wants to be Free. My life has changed in so many ways since then. I’m not sure I really had a vision of where I’d be at 37, but I don’t think it looked quite like this (I certainly never guessed I’d be living on the West Coast!). Back then, I thought climbing the professional ladder was important. I wanted to be in charge. I was impatient to change everything. Now, I just want a job I enjoy that challenges me and to work with people I like. I have that now and I’ve achieved more professionally than I could ever have thought possible back when I was an unemployed new librarian. I feel very lucky.
I started this blog as a newlywed in my mid-20s, about to graduate library school. I initially wrote about my frustrations with the job market, my experiences job-hunting, emerging social technologies I found interesting, and other professional trends. I wrote 300 posts in that first year; a number which I now find staggering (then again, I was unemployed and didn’t have a child, so I did have more time on my hands). From all that writing and commenting on other blogs, I became part of this incredible community of other bloggers and commenters. I found kindred spirits at a time when I needed them most. And while many of those people have left blogging for things like Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed, I still value this medium far more than any other and am glad for the bloggers who still challenge me and make me think (I’m also still glad to call many of those lapsed bloggers friends).
My views on many things have changed over the years. Reading some of my old posts makes me cringe. I’ve made mistakes. I written dumb things. But I’m kind of glad all of my mistakes are up there in black-and-white; it reminds me of how far I’ve come. What has been constant is that I’ve been a voice against groupthink, against labels, and in favor of charitable reading, even when my opinions have set me in opposition to people I respect and admire. And that will never change.
Why do I still blog? First of all, I’m a very slow thinker. I’m not good at the witty comeback, especially not in 140 characters. I use blogging to work out ideas and make sense of things, and I frequently find that I understand my own feelings on a topic better after I’ve written about them. I also love writing (couldn’t you guess?). I have been writing songs, poetry, short stories, and non-fiction since I could hold a pen and have found this medium to be a perfect fit for me. Finally, people still tell me that the things I write are useful; that my blog posts have helped them work out their own thoughts on things or that they felt good to find that someone else shared their opinion. When you can find something you enjoy doing that other people value… well, it’s a match made in heaven.
So, while you’re never going to find me writing 300 posts a year, I plan to keep this blog going as long as I have readers. And heck, maybe longer than that, since I find value in it for myself.
Thank you for reading, especially those of you who really made this feel like a community over the years. I know some of you have been reading this blog for pretty close to a decade and that stuns me. I’m not a particularly interesting or charismatic person. I’m an introvert who leads a pretty unexceptional life and just happens to share her opinions online. I’m always startled when someone tells me how excited they are to meet me at a conference or when someone I just met acts like they know me simply because they read my blog. I’m so much more and so much less than what you might think I am based on what you read here.
I’m not a rock star, though at one point, I mostly (or completely, I was probably a jerk at some point) fit the description of one. I had some lucky breaks and also worked very hard for what I’ve achieved. I think the bulk of my success can be attributed to one thing: chutzpah. I suffer from horrible, almost crippling impostor syndrome, but I have always been the sort of person who’d rather try and fail than not try at all. I was always the girl who would tell the guy I liked him, even if I thought I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. The worst case scenario in that situation never seemed all that bad. And that’s how I’ve approached my career. At a lunch at ALA when I was teaching the staff about wikis in 2006, I told the head of ALA Publishing “you know… y’all should really give me a column in American Libraries. I could help spice up the magazine.” Next thing you know, I had a column. I thought the idea I had for Library DIY was probably stupid, but I figured it’s better to put it out there and get rejected than to let a potentially awesome idea sit. I and the team that helped make it happen ended up winning an award for it and it has been replicated by some major academic libraries and other institutions (like NPR!).
I guess what I’m saying is that, frequently, you have to make your own opportunities. Things rarely fall into anyone’s lap, so if you’re frustrated that you’re not getting x and other people are, you may have to go out there and get it. But also, many of those things really aren’t as wonderful and shiny as you think. They don’t guarantee a life of happiness nor are they a worthwhile stick for which to measure your worth. Life sans banana slicer (and for the record, I wasn’t cool or shiny enough to receive one) is just fine. As Karen said “The odds are you’re amazing anyway.”
So here’s to another decade of blogging, if I still have anything useful to say by then, and thanks for sticking around. It’s been a true pleasure to share myself with you (and get to know many of you) these 10 years.