“Wow what an ass:”

Library Journal – Revenge of the Blog People! By Michael Gorman

A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web. (Though it sounds like something you would find stuck in a drain, the ugly neologism blog is a contraction of “web log.”) Until recently, I had not spent much time thinking about blogs or Blog People. …

In the eyes of bloggers, my sin lay in suggesting that Google is OK at giving access to random bits of information but would be terrible at giving access to the recorded knowledge that is the substance of scholarly books. I went further and came up with the unoriginal idea that the thing to do with a scholarly book is to read it, preferably not on a screen. It turns out that the Blog People (or their subclass who are interested in computers and the glorification of information) have a fanatical belief in the transforming power of digitization and a consequent horror of, and contempt for, heretics who do not share that belief.

How could I possibly be against access to the world’s knowledge? Of course, like most sane people, I am not against it and, after more than 40 years of working in libraries, am rather for it. I have spent a lot of my long professional life working on aspects of the noble aim of Universal Bibliographic Control—a mechanism by which all the world’s recorded knowledge would be known, and available, to the people of the world. My sin against bloggery is that I do not believe this particular project will give us anything that comes anywhere near access to the world’s knowledge.

It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.

They’re discussing this at slashdot, where Peter found this comment:

To claim that one lifestyle is superior is hypocritical, egotistical, and superficial.

That is a nonsensical statement, and exemplary of the sort of moral relativism that is prevalent among many people today. Of course some lifestyles are superior to others: how could you possibly claim that the “lifestyle” of someone like Mother Teresa was not superior that of Hermann Goering? It doesn’t make a bit of sense, unless you’re willing to assert that morality is irrelevant to quality, which makes this argument even more silly.

If we apply the generalization to the librarian’s statements, it begins to make more sense, however. Apart from that, he makes it seem as though they’re “inferior” for not having read “complex texts”. Inferior in education, perhaps, but in the grand scheme of things education is a good indicator of a person’s worth as a librarian, physicist, or dinner guest, but not a great indicator of a person’s intrinsic qualities. This Librarian is behaving as many academics do when faced with “competition from the great unwashed:” with disdain and snobbery.

That being said, I think that the blogosphere is a good and vital part of the datasphere as a whole, and I’m glad it’s there, if for no other reason than it serves as an audit for the fourth estate: if enough people cry “bullshit!” simultaneously, they’ll eventually be heard.

And this guy, responding to that guy:

This schmuck’s argument that “You have to like the things I like in order to be intelligent” is absurd on its face. He comes off as a prototype elitist douchebag.

Ahh, I love the internet. And they wonder why no one reads newspapers anymore.