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ALA President Not Fond of Bloggers 912

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the nail-hit-on-head dept.
Phil Shapiro writes "American Library Association president Michael Gorman is not too fond of bloggers and blogging. '[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... 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.'"
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ALA President Not Fond of Bloggers

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Friday February 25, 2005 @02:57AM (#11774668) Homepage Journal
    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.

    Yo is sure to get schooled from my mad skillz. Oh by the way, this 3l33t haxor had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. Oh and here's a picture of my cat.

    It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs.

    On one level, blogs are intended for brief communications or thoughts that often revolve around a central theme, but not always. Often they are intended as a means for maintaining communication with family and friends or as a creative outlet. However, this guy has obviously not been very informed or is lazy about finding informative/interesting blogs out there like:

    Kevin Sites [kevinsites.net] whose reporting pioneered the use of the blog in combat reporting.

    Dan Gillmor [typepad.com] whose new efforts are targeted at grassroots journalism from sources exactly like blogs.

    Or Chris Anderson's blog The Long Tail [thelongtail.com] which discusses businesses, economic, cultural and political models whose goals are to take advantage of the significant portion of those populations underlying the distal distributions of a curve.

    And many others whose careful investigation, research, thought and reporting go into the content on their blogs.

    Oh, and then there are the blogs like mine [utah.edu]........

  • "Blog" (Score:4, Informative)

    by DarkZero (516460) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:18AM (#11774795)
    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.

    The word "blog" has existed for years now and has become so ubiquitous that most news channels, TV shows, magazines, and newspapers don't even feel the need to define it, let alone pick apart a word that practically everyone already knows the root of by now. This is like a radio DJ ranting about MTV in the '80s and starting his speech off by defining the term "television".

    If you're just now learning what the word "blog" means and believe that the people around you have no clue what it could mean or where it comes from, you're at least a couple of years behind the times, and are far less qualified than the average American to speak about the subject. If Tom Brokaw could regularly use it during the news coverage the presidential election a few months ago without even bothering to define it, it's pretty damn mainstream.
  • Context (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:35AM (#11774869) Homepage
    I think we could use a little context here. Gorman had written an article [infomotions.com]. for the LATimes questioning the value of Google's search engine for books (as contrasted with say spending the money on a library). The position of the article is that information in context (i.e. in a book written by a researcher) is worth far less to someone doing research than a far greater quantity of facts without the organizational structure of a book.

    Bloggers who focus primarily on
    -- putting together collections of obscure references
    -- often don't have formal training in their areas
    objected to the classical approach to research that Gorman advocated.

    I see this article as written response the blogs which attacked Gorman. As a society we could wonders on the library front for a fraction of the cost of projects like Google's; this is a point that no one questions. The real issue is what is the relative value of libraries as contrasted with digital information repositories.

    Blogging proposes a very democratic model of information evaluation that any intelligent person given access to the information will be able to derive the correct conclusions quickly and easily. The classic approach argues that a guided program of study is highly advisable prior deviling into raw sources of information. In feeds in which you are an expert which approach do you think is more correct?
  • by Ray Radlein (711289) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:56AM (#11775329) Homepage
    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.

    If the President of the ALA has such a low opinion of bloggers, perhaps his organization should stop giving so many major awards to them.

    I think what he actually meant to say was something along the lines of:

    "A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable -- except for ALA literary award winners such as Orson Scott Card [ornery.org] or Neil Gaiman [neilgaiman.com] or Sherwood Smith [livejournal.com] or David Brin [blogspot.com] or Jane Yolen [janeyolen.com] or Dianne Duane [blogspot.com] or, oh, bugger, you know, all those other ALA award-winning authors who also blog, not that I want to imply that ALA award-winning librarians who blog, like Kathleen de la Peña McCook [blogspot.com], are bad either, and oh, yeah, I definitely don't want to seem to be criticizing PLABlog [plablog.org], the brand new blog of the Public Library Association [pla.org], especially not when we put out a nifty little press release [ala.org] crowing about it, just last month, because that would look pretty stupid, now, wouldn't it -- er, um, what was I saying, again?"
  • Re:Librarians (Score:5, Informative)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:09AM (#11775533)
    I think the comment of Marx vs Franklin is not fair. For example, did the researcher happen to consider how many bookcases of information that there would be for Adolph Hitler? I am sure that you could fill an entire library just on that single topic.

    And to put things in context, Franklin was a great man, but Marx for good or bad was larger. Franklin affected the United States and made it what it is today. But Marx affected the entire world, as "The Commie Father". There is a bit of a difference. Whom would interest me? Franklin hands down, but I would not think that the librarians would want me to read about Marx instead of Franklin.

    Frankly, I think librarians are not putting any filter in place, and only presenting ALL of the information, not what a select group considers good or bad.

    Getting back to the article, I do tend to agree with the general idea that we are becoming a fast food people who just gobble information without thinking of where the information came from and what it represents.
  • Re:"Blog" (Score:2, Informative)

    by bert.cl (787057) on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:34AM (#11775621)
    Actually, what he is doing is defining about what is he is actually ranting about. You could see this "definition" as a premise. This is to make sure that people aren't arguing with him outside the scope of his "analysis". I think defining a blog is both interesting and informative.

    On a side not, one of the better Belgium papers is only just now pikking u p news on blogs. And they DO define it everytime they talk about it (or at least once in a series of articles in the same edition). I think that supposing that every American (or person in the (Western)) world is a bit optimistal of you.

    Just my 2 cents

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:59AM (#11776357)
    I think a preference for Marx represents thinly veiled anti-Americanism, or at least American liberal guilt.

    Franklin conceived the federal government. He established the first library. He established a university. He ran and owned one of the first American newspapers. He single handedly negotiated the entire separation from England and was integral to the forming of the US Constitution, a document which would go on to guide the most influential country in the history of the world. He invented the bifocal. He wrote Almanacs. He counseled kings. He discovered freaking ELECTRICITY. I could go on. Ben Frankin invented things you use which you do not even know Ben Franklin invented.

    Honestly, screw Marx and his failed utopian lie.
    To compare him to Benjamin Franklin is laughable.

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