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Editorial The Internet

ALA President Not Fond of Bloggers 912

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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  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boola-boola ( 586978 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @02:48AM (#11774611)
    Well yeah... blogs are for people to express themselves, not a place for them to write great literary works.

    Think of your photo collection and music collection. It's just another extension of that (think DIARY).

  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Friday February 25, 2005 @02:49AM (#11774613)
    Caution: this post contains generalizations. Most of which are, unfortunately, true.

    Bloggers think they're going to be the revolution of the press, and that they'll take the place of the New York Times and Washinton Post, and Newscorp will crumble at their feet.

    Not with the half-assed misinformation and melodrama on the vast majority of the political and "news" blogs I've seen (to say nothing of the wild spitting and sputtering in the comments).

    Not as long as they have no problem with their complete and utter lack of accountability of any type, and the vicious, one-sided partisan nature designed solely to incite vitriol in their groupthink audiences.

    Not while they do nothing more than constantly pat each other on their virtual backs and reinforce their own worldviews and twisted near-conspiracy theories, ignoring any and all other sides of the story while simultaneously thinking of themselves as "open minded" and the only revealers of "the truth".

    Blogs have a place in the world of information. And, like all sources of information, I'll concede that some can, in general, build a reputation for trust and accuracy. But many, particularly political blogs, have no regard for anything but the furtherance of their own agendas, taking things wildly out of context, and going on vindictive missions to build a one-sided case to paint the target of their ire in the worst possible light, without any consideration for any other motivations or other sides of the stories.

    And they think they're the future of the media?

    No fucking thanks.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @02:55AM (#11774650) Homepage
    This one strikes me entirely as Gandhi said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, next they fight fight you. Then you win." It applies to many things.

    I'm very sorry to see that the ALA Prez (an org I respect) cannot see past his dead trees. Yes, blogspace is hard to archive, and much of it low quality -- because it hasn't been selected [censored] by printing press owners. There are also some gems. He's a librarian, he should go look.

  • by aesiamun ( 862627 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:01AM (#11774698) Homepage Journal
    And this is different from FOX News how?

    Political Agenda is what that 24 hour POS news station is all about. Political partisan nature is what most news stations are all about.
  • Librarians (Score:2, Insightful)

    by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:01AM (#11774699)
    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.

    Frankly, this assessment doesn't sound too far off to me. A major portion of understanding a field in depth is categorizing the raw data one has compiled in order to turn it into information. Blogs just aren't capable of doing something like this without sinking to the lowest common political bias.

    A major strength of having access to a large library is actually having a librarian point out where to find a large body of information on the field you're interested in. But once you get there, the sheer volume of information precludes the possibility of a librarian introducing a political bias, though there might be a systematic bias in the publishing world.
  • by bender183 ( 447302 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:03AM (#11774706)
    As boring as it might me at mom started from the ground up a yellow pages for librarians which was freely distrubuted and stayed afloat by librarian vendors paying to advertise in her free publication. She started it 14 years ago and She is selling it within the next two weeks because the market has run dry. The point of all this? Her buisness did just fine until google came along. Why do you need to go to a library and support them when you have a wealth of information at your fingertips? What is closer your pc which resides in your room, or the closest library? You do the math. This is just a case of someone who is bitter towards the "google" generation because it steals his buisness. Just ask my mom =|
  • by SweetAndSourJesus ( 555410 ) <> on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:04AM (#11774709)
    In the case of bloggers: "First they don't read your blog, then they laugh at your blog, then that's pretty much it."

    Comparing the "blogging phenomena" to the Indian independence movement is a fine way to illustrate your massive sense of self-importance, though.
  • Well. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nsaneinside ( 831846 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:04AM (#11774713)
    The majority of said "Blog People" don't give a flying rat's ass about saying anything important, and couldn't care less about "quality writing."

    Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen
    Yeah, he does have a point:
    today was boring. i sat in class and wathhd out teh window and farted at the teacher. everybody laffed. then we ate lunch. OH MAN IM SO DEPRESSED I JUST BROKE UP WITH MY GIRLFRIEND!

    Besides, I don't think we can trust the guy. Of course he sounds official. Er. Officious. He uses a lot of big words, like "antidigitalist" and "progressives" and "hubris" and "neologism" and "pillory"...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:05AM (#11774716)
    looks like you could replace "Bloggers" with "Fox News" in the parent post and get an accurate description of fox as a "news" source
  • by miu ( 626917 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:05AM (#11774722) Homepage Journal
    ...but he certainly doesn't get it.

    My piece had the temerity to question the usefulness of Google digitizing millions of books and making bits of them available via its notoriously inefficient search engine. The Google phenomenon is a wonderfully modern manifestation of the triumph of hope and boosterism over reality. Hailed as the ultimate example of information retrieval, Google is, in fact, the device that gives you thousands of "hits" (which may or may not be relevant) in no very useful order.

    If he is opposed to "inefficient search" then the Dewey Decimal system must infuriate him. Google is great for getting a rough idea of what is out there, occasionally it may lead you to something really worthwhile - but most of the time it only cuts down on the early legwork, something very worth doing.

  • by Sivar ( 316343 ) <`moc.liamg]' `ta' `[snrubnselrahc'> on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:09AM (#11774749)
    ...He's actually a pretty funny guy:
    For the record, though I may have associated with Antidigitalists, I am not and have never been a member of the Antidigitalist party and would be willing to testify to that under oath. I doubt even that would save me from being burned at the virtual stake, or, at best, being placed in a virtual pillory to be pelted with blogs. Ugh!
    I hope he realizes that while most blogs aren't worth the bytes they are printed on in terms of content, there are enough gems that one can't write the entire concept off as a bad idea. In any case, judging bloggers by the quality of their writing largely misses the point--blogs aren't supposed to be a regulated, edited, meticulously researched medium of writing--they are a means of sharing thoughts with the world without having to jump through hoops. Whether the world listens, complains, enjoys the blog, takes offense to it, or feels that the author should have gingerly lucubrated every detail as if each entry were a Nobel Prize acceptance speech is beside the point entirely.
  • by whjwhj ( 243426 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:11AM (#11774755)
    Haven't we all been in a social situation (out to dinner or a bar, for example) where a serious conversation starts up about a serious topic and what ends up happening is that the folks with the least informed opinions do much of the talking, whereas the ones with a more enlightened view say very little? There must be some facet to the human condition that predicates that ignorance breeds arrogance, and wisdom breeds restraint.

    Our current U.S. political climate bears this out.

    There are plenty of articulate and educated bloggers, certainly. But there are many many more who aren't. We should slow down and think more about the quality of our information, not just the quantity.
  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:11AM (#11774757)
    "It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs."
    Hey, it was good enough to score a few million for Ken Jennings!

    But seriously, who thinks blogs are where great literatire is to be found anyway? The best blogs-with-a-purpose seem to be the ones that report news stories the mainstream media won't cover. The blurring of the Tinfoil Hat as it were. Anyway, when I want good literature I usually turn to a book. For example in the wake of last weekend's suicide by one of my favorite writers, Hunter S. Thompson, I decided to finally crack open a copy of Hey Rube given to me last year which I had not gotten around to reading. I found this in the Author's Note at the very beginning:
    "What has gone wrong with our communication system since then? Why are we more ignorant and less informed today than we were in 1941? ... If World War III can start in a vacuum of silence and stonewalling by the White House, we are doomed like rats in a maze of fear. We are slaves to mendacity and hostile disinformation. Bread and circuses were not enough to sustain the Roman Empire and they will not be enough for the United States of America."
    You don't need to wear a Tinfoil Hat these days to see that the plutocracy now in power in the U.S. controls the message and the media. Bloggers who attempt the lost art of Journalism can become a powerful force for truth and justice, keeping the old-guard media whores honest (if that's even possible anymore). But I don't think the ALA has to worry about dumbing down Americans' interest in literature. For 90% of the masses television finished that off decades ago.
  • by wintermute1000 ( 731750 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:11AM (#11774759)
    I'm no blogging cheerleader, but the patronizing tone he uses is bound to alienate a less enthusiastic booster of the blogosphere than I. He comes across as an arrogant prig who's using his (extremely limited) bully pulpit to bash those about whom he admittedly (and rather proudly) knows little. I have nothing but regard for the ALA and love my local libraries, but this mocking, snobbish attitude isn't going to win anyone over to his side.

    What I got out of it is that the president of the ALA is afraid that his way of life and his preferred methods af acquiring information are becoming less relevant, and rather than changing the way he and his association do business, he figures he'll stand up and mock the people who are changing things in hope that others wil listen. Nice try, man.
  • Don't bother... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:19AM (#11774797) Journal
    ...trying to convince anyone about a news groups' impartiality. First of all, it's simply not true - EVERY news group has some degree of filtering going on.

    The basic problem many on the Left have with Fox is that it's not the party line that is CNN/NBC/ABC/CBS. Ask them what the real difference is between THOSE networks and they really can't tell you. That's because they are, and have always been left-leaning.

    Then when one network comes along and at least PRETENDS to present another side, these guys go ape. The reason why Fox News is KILLING the others is because of the obvious difference in reporting. And if you can't understand that mindset, then you're probably still in shock over the election too.

  • Re:Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:24AM (#11774821) Journal
    Well web logs (hey I don't use 'blogs or blogs anymore) are for that, but they are not used for that, they are used for hordes of people to 'ultra-link' to one source of information and then 'gossip' about it, each one eeking out thier own little errors, that that whisper game.

    I don't mind reading web logs about pseudo-intellectual 19 year old whining that they are two skinny and that they are sad they have to rely on thier parents cash to buy themselves icecream (true web log I read when I was looking into how utterly fucking demented web logs are).

    But when that same girl starts uber-linking to other web logs and stories and adding:

    ZOMG!!!11111 EVAR!!!11 aaaaaargh!!11 amifat? commentary that ends up on googles bot, then I just feel that the IQ quotient inherent in the googlebot has just dropped closer to the lowest common demominator (aforementioned 19yo/ice-cream-complex/bulemic/(black fingernails?)

    Just remember, googlebot is like slashdot, it is an omelette of peoples ideas, a big mixing jug of all the creative effluent of society.

    Web logs just dilute (or condense, depending on your angle on my rapidly crumbling metaphore) this big mixing jug, and also are an embarrassment if some alien race is googling out there right now, excreting thier own choice of liquids into thier pants as they laugh heartily (or splutter without the use of any blood pumping device) at our mindless focus on belly button piercings, teen angst, or pimping our web logs on google.

    ok, apart from the wierd metaphore quite a good post methinks.
  • by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:25AM (#11774824) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that blogs help people develop an understanding of the links between information. For that matter, I think the main value of blogs and homepages is the building of links between the blog and world at large. A well linked blog becomes a discussion with the world.

    In someways, blogs are a welcome relief from published literature which can be a bit too introspective or polished. I do agree with the librarian who is dismayed at the hype given blogs. Everything in computers gets overhyped. Individual blogs like mine [] really mean nothing. In aggregation, they provide an interesting topology of the concerns of our culture.
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:26AM (#11774830) Journal
    blogs are for people to express themselves, not a place for them to write great literary works.

    The complaint isn't that blogs are not great works of literature, but that they're such poor specimens. Surely there's something between the average blog and "great literary works" to strive for?

  • by ggvaidya ( 747058 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:26AM (#11774831) Homepage Journal
    I hate how often that quote is used online to support ANYTHING where one organisation ignores/laughs at/fights another one. Not blastingt the parent or anything, I guess it is appropriate to this context, but really ... in any case, I offer a contradictory Carl Sagan quote:
    They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

    They're both true, of course, but it's silly to forget either one in a debate.
  • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Foktip ( 736679 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:27AM (#11774839)
    Apart from that, he makes it seem as though they're "inferior" for not having read "complex texts".

    Each person chooses a way to live; people do as they please. To claim that one lifestyle is superior is hypocritical, egotistical, and superficial.
  • by trs9000 ( 73898 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (0009srt)> on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:29AM (#11774851)
    I agree with most of what you say. The open bias of blogs does not bother me. However, there are other shortcomings. Namely, the thing I don't like about blogs (or, usually just the portrayal of blogs) is the treatment of them as writings. Indeed, I have read many posts that could be considered an article, though usually those are even on the short side of things.

    All-too-often, some blogger will post an entry regarding a very interesting and thought-provoking idea, but mostly it's a few sentences and a hyperlink. The blog entry is just an arrow, a finger pointing at the moon. Why should the blogger get credit? Not only is the idea not theirs, they also didn't even offer an in-depth analysis of it (or more often: any analysis). Quite commonly, blogs are devoid of real content. When I look at a lot of the blogs--even professional ones--and they are essentially just posting summaries and references, I question the validity of blogs as a writing medium. Which is to say, it might be one for reference or information, biased or not, but not one of substance.

    The really funny thing to me is sometimes it becomes circular, or even recursive. This blog posts about a concept via another blog which posted something they found over here which was just a little blurb about Apple buying out TiVo. Again, the idea proves very interesting--the short degrees of separation and locus of interest allow for quick news online--but it is not very weighty.

    There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Plenty of bloggers, especially those with a political bent can get long-winded. And, furthermore, this is not to discredit the weblog as a medium. I think its pretty great and has quite a bit of potential. But I use blogs (or more specifically, their rss feeds) as information harvesters, not as sources of well reasoned, well written articles.
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:34AM (#11774868) Homepage Journal
    His criticism of Google digitizing books is based on the idea that it's better to read entre books, preferrably on paper, rather than snippets served up as Google search results. I can agree with that part. But he fails to see that the value that Google aims to provide is the means to readily find what book you need.

    I have on several occasions tried to find a book that covers some particular detail of something, and failed, only to later find it by accident in a different book that I wouldn't have expected to cover it. Mr. Gorman must never have had this experience, or he would welcome new tools to help him find relevant books.

    I suspect that this is what the bloggers understand and have not been successful in conveying to him. But since I don't know specifically which blogs and bloggers he's referring to, it's hard to say.

  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:39AM (#11774892) Homepage
    If the head of the ALA were a publisher, he would know that the overall quality of bloggers' work is no worse than the output of the vast majority of so-called "writers" who submit manuscripts. The fact that some people have talent and others don't is a trivial and uninteresting observation. His reaction sounds more like resentment that mediocre authors, whose work otherwise wouldn't be published, are able to attract large audiences on the web. Maybe he thinks they don't deserve it. Or maybe there's a crumpled up rejection slip in his wastebasket.
  • What left? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asreal ( 177335 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:01AM (#11774989)
    If you honestly believe that CNN is left-leaning, I think you need to seriously re-examine your definition of left. American media has always been right-leaning. If you think otherwise, you need to do long-term comparisons of what stories were covered in the American media and the language that was used to cover them. You will find that the liberal media myth is completely false and that the standards of journalism have been pulled to the right by reactionary "journalists" like Bill O'Reilly.

    Just because you're less right wing than Bill O'Reilly doesn't mean you're leftist.
  • by Chonine ( 840828 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:01AM (#11774992)
    ...posted onto "Library Journal" pretty much a "blog" entry?

    Blogs fill the same purpose that his little rant does. It lets people just say what they want, and people naturally gravitate towards blogs they find interesting. He may not call it a blog, and it lacks a feedback system, but he's essentially criticizing exactly what he's doing himself.

  • My Take On Blogs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:02AM (#11775000) Journal
    Blogs are glorified message boards and people like them because it's like having an auto+5 post. It's essentially reality TV for the I guess it's reality internet.

    It will not replace modern journalisim because modern journalisim will replace itself. At best it could make editorial pages less read.
  • noise issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ethank ( 443757 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:04AM (#11775009) Homepage
    I think what he fails to realize is that the benefit of blogs over mainstream press is that the amount of noise present directly equates to more information from which to sift.

    In the sense of traditional information theory, noise is information (to simplify a bit). Without noise there is homogenization of signal equating to a lack of movement toward chaos or entropy. Information therefore is created by breaking down communication channels, altering the signal (in this case news) between source and destination. The creation of noise hence creates a dynamic system of information in which all elements are going toward a state of complexity.

    Complexity = good.

    When extrapolated toward blog vs. popular press, blogs present a situation in which subjective filtering and emergence from it creates the content, rather than content coming from one source.

    It is a distributed publishing model which puts the onus of interpretation, use and distillation upon the reader rather than the propagator of said content.

    So taking information theory and applying it to blogs, blogs create more dynamic states from which useful information can be gleaned, but it changes the practice of information dispersal to the extent that the hierarchy which typified the dissemination of information pre-Internet has been flattened and in some sense elimnated. No longer is there a differentiation between the reductive properties of grass-roots press and large press.

    The issue I see with this guy is not that he is a Luddite, but that he is threatened by the breakdown of the hegemony imposed previously be the hiearchy created by movable type and the publishing industry.
  • Irony: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uhlume ( 597871 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:04AM (#11775013) Homepage
    Having read TFA, I find myself struck by nothing so much as how very much like a blog entry this alleged "article" reads...
  • by Leo McGarry ( 843676 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:07AM (#11775023)
    Best. Comment. Ever.

    I, too, go positively batshit crazy whenever somebody trots out some dusty quote from somebody really fantastic in order to prop up their otherwise indefensible position. The Gandhi one is popular; the Franklin one about liberty and security is even more so. And, of course, anything from Orwell is right on the money.

    What these people need to understand is that they're not actually saying anything here. They're trying to imply that they are equivalent to Gandhi or Franklin or whomever, but they're not actually coming right out and saying it. They're just repeating somebody else's words taken out of context.

    And, frankly, Gandhi's "first they ignore you" quote is pretty lame to begin with. It's fortune-cooke wisdom: it sounds good, and it's completely irrefutable, but it doesn't actually mean anything or provide any guidance when it comes to making a judgment.
  • by edunbar93 ( 141167 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:14AM (#11775048)
    Most of the bloggers I know (ie, my livejournal friends) are in fact voracious readers. What they write in their diary is no indication of how much reading they do, how good they are at writing, or their level of education.

    The worst offender on my friends list is in fact an English student in her third year of college. She works in a library and takes every advantage of her unlimited access to it. The serious writing she does is very good and she gets high marks for it in class.

    But the fact of the matter is that a livejournal is just a diary you share with your friends. Historically, diary entries have been kept short in no small part because to do otherwise is very time consuming. The fact that you are keeping a diary at all is an indication that you are embarking on some kind of adventure and actually going about living your life. As such, you don't have a lot of time at the end of the day to write much, unless your living is made as a writer.

    I encourage Mr. Gorman to read the diaries of others and stop passing judgement on those who write them. He might stumble upon the plain fact that diaries usually aren't written by professional writers, but have their own worth anyway.
  • by katharsis83 ( 581371 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:15AM (#11775050)
    "Ask them what the real difference is between THOSE networks and they really can't tell you."

    No, it's actually rather easy to spot the difference between Fox News and the rest of the networks.

    The reason I find Fox News offensive is not simply because of any leanings in political spectrum (although I do think it is a right-leaning group); the reason I find Fox News so abhorrent is because it reduces complex issues into single-phrase arguments pundits can shout at each other on TV. I agree that CNN and other shows have these kind of things too - the earliest one I can remember is the McLaughlin Group on PBS I think (not sure). However, Fox News takes it to a new extreme.

    Watch Hannity & Colmes sometimes; it makes your stomach turn to see issues that the American people need to see all nuanced facets of reduced to a Left vs. Right shouting match. Guess what, not all issues are as simple as that, and it's a travesty to the public to make it so. Listen to NPR news or the BBC sometimes, and tell me their careful, measured, discussions of the economics of the Social Security problem aren't far more informative and stimulating.

    Fox hypes news using constant flag waving and important-sounding music while stripping the public discourse of any semblance of reason. THAT is why I dislike Fox News.
  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:17AM (#11775057) Homepage
    SMS, instant messaging, E-mail, message boards and blogs are all from time to time trashed by professional writters for not containing the same standard of writting as the traditional media, like (paper) letters, newspaper letter columns, and diaries (by grown-ups).

    That is probably true if you look at average numbers. Well, apart from newspaper letter columns, which I find slightly below Usenet posts in quality. And we don't really know about the private media, we tend only to see written diaries and letters from famous people.

    However, they also mean that a lot more people are writting than ever used the old media. Honestly, how many in here would ever consider writting to a newspaper letter column? And would you write long, carefully formulated letters to friends and family if you could not use SMS, IM or email? And how many of the bloggers among you would write a diary instead?

    What the professional writters are really complaing about is that they no longer have a virtual monopoly on writting. It is now for everyone. And of course, we are getting better at it. Much of the communication (like here) is done in public, and we can see which formulations get the point across and which doesn't. So while the writting may not become beautiful, it slowly becomes effective. At least for those who have anything at all to contribute.

    The other part of it is that we become less impressed by the written word, now that it has become a daily tool of our own. We are much less likely to believe in something because it is written (in a a paper or book) than our parents were. Since we know no special skills are required to write and publish, we intuitively know that the written word is no more trsutworthy than the spoken word.

    This also annoyes the professional writters, even if they don't know it.
  • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:20AM (#11775062)
    Correct. Everytime I hear the ignorant claim of "the liberal media" I politely ask the person who said this to tell my how Judith Miller got all those NYTimes (you know the big gay liberal paper) front page pieces about Iraq's WMD from anonymous sources. If they plead ignorance I then ask them to show me ANYWHERE in say, Harpers or The Nation, where those liberal stories intersect at all with what's presented on CNN et al. If they again plead ignorance then I ask them to debunk the propaganda model of media [] as described, with many examples, in Manufacturing Consent. []

    The "liberal media" is a nice meme that helps right-wing politicians get their way and keeps their supportoers from experiencing too much cognitive dissonance. its also completely and utterly false. Bias for all commercial media outlets can be traced to the ownership of that media outlet, profitability, nationalism, and fads.
  • Re:Don't bother... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:21AM (#11775065)
    The basic problem many on the Left have with Fox is that it's not the party line that is CNN/NBC/ABC/CBS. Ask them what the real difference is between THOSE networks and they really can't tell you. That's because they are, and have always been left-leaning.

    Could be. It could also be that they present an at least reasonable approximation of the truth. Someone as obviously objective as you can see that's a much more likely explanation than some vast left-wing conspiracy, yes?

    The reason why Fox News is KILLING the others is because of the obvious difference in reporting. And if you can't understand that mindset, then you're probably still in shock over the election too.

    Fox News does well because it panders to those who believe that screaming louder and drowning out opposing viewpoints makes them correct, and that there is only one side to every story and theirs is it. It's not a methodology which appeals to those who are intelligent or educated (in the classical sense), but certainly seems to do well in today's America.

    Fox isn't really killing the others, btw, because there are no "others." It's only watched by those who have already made up their minds, and seek only to hear confirmation of their preconceptions. It therefore by definition does not directly compete with news networks (to whom I believe you were referring) since that is not what it is. It is an entertainment channel which seeks to profit from the unfortunate reality that narrow mindedness and intolerance will always be preferred to critical thought and fact by those who are ignorant and lazy.

    And yes, there are many who are shocked by the outcome of the last American election, although I can't count myself as one of them; it turned out much as I expected. The difference between me and those who were surprised is that I realize the "average American" would no more know how to form a coherent and critical thought than a baboon would know how to evaluate Shakespeare, as you have so eloquently shown.

  • by joFFeman ( 574971 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:25AM (#11775082) Homepage
    > Maybe he thinks they don't deserve it. Or maybe there's a crumpled up
    > rejection slip in his wastebasket.

    he's the president elect of the ALA. he's not really going to be getting any rejection slips. as someone who keeps an online journal, and as the son of a librarian, i have to agree with him. that's why robots.txt has an exclude rule for my 'blog'. i don't want to pollute the contents of the internet[s]. maybe my friends enjoy what i write, and that's fine- i just think it's more responsible to keep it out of the search engines. people often go to search engines for information on a certain subject, and weblogs are all they find in the first few pages. these are mostly sources they do not know, and thus (hopefully) will not trust.

    and what he said about the quality of writing in blogs... that's quite hard to argue against. the vast majority of blogs are written by youths for youths- basically public diaries. they are wholly uninteresting as anything but what is considered 'outsider art' by hipsters, who ironically enough compose the upper echelon of the 'blogosphere'. i don't like radiohead, i don't think strongbad is funny, but i do keep a weblog. it's a way to vent, and i don't think it should be considered serious work by anyone. some bloggers are seeking journalistic integrity, and that's great. some people write novels in the form of post-by-chapter blogs. that's cool- but blogs are for the most part internet pollution, redundant, inane, ego-stroking, and self-serving.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:36AM (#11775115)
    I agree, except I look at it from a different viewpoint than you do. I wouldn't say he's so much "resentful" as that he has a valid complaint. The two biggest problems with the "information age" are separating signal from noise, and organizing information. Weblogs and Google are making things worse, not better, because the proliferation of raw data is outstripping our ability to process it. Of course, traditional journalism is no better, considering that they're catering to "consumers" instead of "citizens" now, and chasing after Google and bloggers themselves.

    We'd be much better off if instead of yammering on, some of these people became librarians and editors instead.
  • Re:Don't bother... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cryptoluddite ( 658517 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:44AM (#11775136)
    The basic problem many on the Left have with Fox is that it's not the party line that is CNN/NBC/ABC/CBS.

    No the problem the Left has with FOX News is that they just plain lie. For example, search google for "global climate change" and of the top-10 results you get 7 opinion pieces making up random crap about climate change... everything from "more research is needed" to "the alarmist U.N.". The other 3 articles portray global climate change reasonably because they are written by the Associated Press.

    Try the same for the sources you say are just reporting the "party line" and you get completely different results -- not even one single opinion piece and no bias (the articles are just reporting the science). If the facts happen to agree with what the liberals are saying that isn't bias, that's the liberals just being correct.

    I mean the first search I try and the results for FOX News are 70% opinion whereas for the supposedly biased networks are 100% news. I mean wake the fuck up, FOX News is a propoganda machine and that's it's purpose. The reason it is successful is that there are a lot of uneducated Americans that like to think they are right.

  • A False Dichotomy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uhlume ( 597871 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:54AM (#11775163) Homepage
    I don't see the two options as mutually exclusive. As things stand, traditional bound books still maintain a host of advantages over newer electronic delivery media (including portable e-book readers/tablet PCs) primarily in terms of superior resolution, lower power requirements, and a highly intuitive, tactile user interface which enables easier random-access than any software mechanism yet devised. On the other hand, digitized works offer other advantages, including complete-text searchability (though one might argue that a well-compiled index can sometimes provide more meaningful search capabilities than simple text-matching) and remote access to vast bodies of written material with minimal storage-space requirements. In a perfect world, I'd have equal access to both.

    (And yes, people who "don't read classic literature" are, perforce, less completely educated -- or at the very least, less cultured. I make no claims regarding intelligence, however.)
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by curunir ( 98273 ) * on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:55AM (#11775167) Homepage Journal
    I think your analogy of a diary is particularly good. The vast majority of diaries never amount to anything. But some diaries become historical records that are truly valuable literary pieces. Anne Frank is the obvious example of this. Another would be all the diaries that constantly show up in shows on The History Channel. No librarian would ever think twice about having one of these works in their collection. Yet they make a big fuss about a form of media which isn't really intended to be archived. Maybe they should pay attention to the deterioration of forms of media that are supposed to be archived. The latest Grisham novel doesn't stack up too well against novels from past eras.

    I think blogs will be treated similarly to diaries by history. 20 years from now, we may see collections of important bloggings as eBooks, or however "real literature" is published at that time. But the vast majority of blogs will have vanished into the /dev/null, as it were.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:57AM (#11775173) Homepage
    but this mocking, snobbish attitude isn't going to win anyone over to his side.

    It won me over. At least, upon reading it I found that my personal view of blogs and bloggers was much closer to that of the ALA president than that held by many bloggers themselves, and that the ALA president had expressed his view in a way that both indicated he understood the situation and was in itself well stated.

    So it comes down to what, exactly, the goal of this piece was. If the point was to express something, it was a success. If the point was to express something and have readers finding they agreed with it, it was a success in that at least one person (me) was "won over" by it.

    If the point was to impress self-identified "bloggers", it probably failed, but then I personally begin to suspect it's impossible to impress anyone who self-identifies as a "blogger" except by directly stoking their ego.
  • Re:What left? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greggman ( 102198 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:20AM (#11775234) Homepage
    If you don't see the CNN is left leaning you it's only because you yourself are left leaning and therefore see it as centrist. This topic has been studied several times in several different ways and been proven that the news media is liberal baised /bw04_0614.pdf [] D=829 [] eport063004_p1.asp []

    a few searches on google will bring up more.
  • by mungojelly ( 853032 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:23AM (#11775241) Homepage
    The difference between a dinner conversation & a web conversation is that here you can tune in whoever you want; it's not possible to drown someone out. A hundred thousand ignorant bloggers screaming at the top of their lungs won't stop you from reading whoever you want to read, exactly as if everyone else wasn't there.

  • What a hypocrite (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nohat ( 38834 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:26AM (#11775247) Homepage
    Making vague accusations about people's intelligence is intellectually equivalent to calling them idiots. The entire piece is the academic equivalent of an escalation of a "no, you're stupid" playground taunt. Frankly, he should be embarassed about the immaturity of the whole thing, and he likely will be when those who he considers to be his peers call him on it. You know you're an important troll when your trollish screeds get posted to the Slashdot front page.
  • To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el-spectre ( 668104 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:35AM (#11775277) Journal
    There are a lot of EDUCATED people (nationality is not important) that just like to think they are right.

    Like just about everyone. The 'Confirmation Bias' is a characteristic of human psychology.

    That said, my problem w/Fox "news" isn't that I disagree with the politics, it's the cheap pandering to the masses.

    Example: Just before the invasion of Iraq, most news channels were, reasonably enough (given that most americans at the time, when polled, were against an invasion) discussing the 'should we/shouldn't we' issue. I flipped over to fox news and every commercial break ended with a big animated flag / F-16 / eagle montage and big shiny "Freedom on the March!" banner. C'mon guys... let's try for a semblance of restaint.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:43AM (#11775297) Homepage
    If the head of the ALA were a publisher, he would know that the overall quality of bloggers' work is no worse than the output of the vast majority of so-called "writers" who submit manuscripts.

    But the head of the ALA is not a publisher. He is a librarian. This means that his job is not to evaluate works for publication, his job is to sift through the mess after the publishers are done and try to make some sense of it all. From the perspective of a librarian, publishing is inevitable, whether it's done by a printing press or a web page. The only important question is, what happens next?

    Part of answering that question is the issue of how, when and why works are preserved and held up for use by others. This is a question librarians are often concerned with. It also seems to be the issue that the ALA person who wrote this article is mostly concerned with-- or, even more specifically, the question is it useful?

    This is a question that is often neglected when discussing blogs. Usually the only question people ask concerning blogs is Will, or should, blogs become successful? This is not the same question as whether they are useful. For a random example, I Love Lucy is popular. One could very definitely call I Love Lucy successful. However one could argue I Love Lucy is not very useful for purposes of engendering an informed populace. Probably it serves some other use. But that does not mean it is informative.

    Similarly, blogs may become very popular without being particularly useful as an informative tool. Will this happen? I don't know. But the question of whether and in what capacity, popular or no, that blogs are useful as an informative tool is definitely a question the ALA president seems to want raised. I think it is a fair one.
  • Random facts? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DimGeo ( 694000 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:43AM (#11775299) Homepage
    "It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs."

    You mean ... like journalists?
  • Librarians (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:43AM (#11775300) Homepage Journal
    There is much more to librarians and scholarly writing than card catalogs. I suspect that many librarians see the class of librarians as social structure charged with selecting filtering that ideas that will seep into the culture at large.

    A great example of this filtering can be seen at University Libraries. A researcher pointed out to me that my local universities had almost two full bookcases dedicated to studies of Marx, and not a full shelve concerned with Benjamin Franklin. The researcher thought this odd for a library in the United States. Librarians take their filtering responsibilities seriously. Blogs, forums, online bookstores and whatnot pose the threat of democratizing the great filters librarians put in place.

    The librarian article seems concerned with blogs v. the press. I never had the illusion that blogs would lead to the elimination of main stream press. Hell, a good third of all the blog posts in this world reference published article. Very few mainstream press articles point to blogs. This assymetry will always favor the press.

    Blogs pose no threat to the press. They do pose a great threat to the cultural filters put in place by librarians.
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordNightwalker ( 256873 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:52AM (#11775319)

    Although his tone is condescending, was he not speaking about the quality of writing and discourse prevalent in blogs? Is this not clearly associated with one's facility with complex texts?

    No, since his whole argument was against blog entries in English (I doubt he read any blogs criticizing him in other languages than English) it is clearly associated with one's proficiency in the English language. This in turn has much to do with the culture said person originates from. The fact that a Swede who happens to blog in English produces blog entries of questionable spelling or grammar gives us no insight in his abilities to read and understand complex texts. There is more than one language out there, and not everyone can be expected to have the same level of proficiency in any one such language than the people who natively speak it. After all, I wouldn't expect you to be a more eloquent French speaker than some great French author or poet.

    Other than that, I have to agree with you that Mr. Gorman's thoughts on this whole matter are quite unintelligently worded; he probably wrote this in some fit of rage, which isn't the best time to start defending yourself in public against critique. What I found particularly ironic was how he argued that bloggers are unintelligent and inferior in the "grokking complex text" department because their skills in the English Language department are lacking, then goes on a couple of paragraphs later to state that the money invested in this new Google program would be better spent in buying new books for libraries, for example in library-starved California. Yes... It would be nice if more Californians had access to the superior option of local libraries. However, even though Google's new program may not be as elegant a solution as a humble library building stacked with books, it's a resource everyone from around the world (China and similarly censored countries not withstanding) can access.

  • by DenDave ( 700621 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:56AM (#11775330)
    Really he's right. Unfortunately as we have seen over the years society has changed and the "fast-food" culture has now hit our intellects. I guess it is just time to recognize that the "true" western civilization is on the decline, just like Rome we fell asleep when we got bored..

    The Enlightenment is over, the Renaissance is forgotten and millions of people live day to day in the darkness of oblivion. Oblivious to the great works and thoughts of millions of humans before them. Goethe would have cursed them.

    Then again, who cares right? We can blog ourselves silly on the meaning of capitalism and Open Source. In the meantime the French Revolution is over and the values of Liberty and equality are all but forgotten in what seems to be a dream within a dream. So ignore human rights in the rest of the world cuz your gonna lose your own. Unless of course Kant becomes the next hype..

    I guess the only thing I can say about this all is that the sleeper in the valey is not sleeping..

    Le dormeur du val ne dort pas, il est mort et son corps et rigide et froid..
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:00AM (#11775339) Homepage
    Blogs and bloggers are just people, anyone really. This fact seems to escape the ALA President as if anyone publishing information is automatically held up to some high standard.

    I guess I'm not exactly sure who this ALA president is really talking about. I don't "blog", and I'm not a "blogger" (unless you're one of those people who consider slashdot a blog), so I'm not exactly familiar with a wide variety of blogs/bloggers. But my feeling was always there's nothing really special and/or stereotypical about blogs/bloggers execept maybe they're a bit too fanatical about whatever it is their blog is about.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:07AM (#11775355) Journal
    But wait.

    The mainstream media has shown itself repeatedly just as biased with its own political agenda*; as Hugh Hewitt wrote in his recent book BLOG, he likens it very much to the Gutenberg revolution: you had a very CONTROLLED media business, where very tight-knit group of people with their own biases were controlling everything about the public discussion, for all intents and purposes.
    * note to /.ers: simply because you are so far off in left field that Lenin is merely a 'faint pink' to you, doesn't mean the Mainstream Media isn't generally LIBERAL. They may not look it to you, but then again, not much IS to the left of you.

    To take your points in order:
    1) half-assed: hm, Bush National Guard Papers anyone? They weren't even GOOD forgeries. How about repeated stories on some minority kid having a tough time .... that turns out to be entirely fiction? Yeah, W-A--A-A-Y better fact-checking there.

    2) melodrama: have you ever actually WATCHED Dan Rather? If journalists in general aren't the biggest bunch of drama-queens after Hollywood, I'm not sure what is.

    3) lack of accountability: and precisely who is the NYT accountable to when it publishes routine hatchet jobs and character assassinations? Or when they refuse to review conservative books (despite their being top of the best-seller list for weeks) on principle. How many MSM outlets said ANYTHING about Mr. Jordan (late of CNN) and his ridiculous comments, until AFTER he'd been cut loose? Nice reportage - w00t!

    4) "the sole source of news" (eg excessive hubris) - this would be declaring yourself the sole source of 'real' news and that anyone else bringing forth news and commentary is just some untalented Pajamahedeen with an axe to grind? Sure, I see what you mean.

    Hi Ms. Pot? This is Mr. Kettle of the NYT. Would love to call you black, please.
  • by mungojelly ( 853032 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:20AM (#11775386) Homepage
    There isn't "1 or 2" of ANYTHING on the internet.

    I can understand why people have trouble groking this. It's hard to wrap your mind around. But the internet is VERY VERY large. By even the most conservative estimates, there are many millions of blogs, with many more starting by the second.

    There are numerous blogs about any subject imaginable. There are at least three dozen blogs written by emergency medics []. Are these "good"? They're just "what [they] do for a living," it's true, but what they do for a living is emergency medicine.

    These are the medical leeches [] we got today to put on a skin flap with venous congestion that was threatening to destroy our work...

    (Come on, you know you're curious.)

    There are blogs by Senators, blogs by censored Nepali reporters, blogs by angsty teenagers in countries that you know little about.

    Reading a few blogs at random & then dissing the whole concept is like skimming a cereal box, a drug store receipt, a toothpaste ad & a bookjacket blurb & then pronouncing: This "written word" stuff is useless crap!


  • Blogs and Books (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fncll ( 159437 ) * on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:23AM (#11775394) Homepage
    Talking about the content of "blogs" is as ridiculous as talking about the content of "books"-- as if there is something meaningful that can be generalized about the group. There's a boatload of bad writing on blogs just as there are in the pages of the journals in Gorman's hallowed halls of periodicals. There's also a lot of great writing to be found in both places.

    Gorman is responding to a select group of bloggers who chose to attack him because he doesn't think Google should be nominated for sainthood. I think he underestimates the power of searching and random access...

    But the real sadness here for those of us who love libraries (I do, and I support them by using them and contributing financially) is that he unfortunately represents a very real and powerful part of the administrative apparatus of most libraries. These people don't understand that the roles of libraries, repositories, and librarians are radically changing. I don't mind the whining of the fossils-- I even appreciate a bit of the productive tension between the white-gloved, shhhh-ing blue-hairs and the stinking rabble of the Internet-- but I feel for the younger set getting their relatively useless Library Science education at institutions run by the traditionalists. They might as well get a degree in phrenology or alchemy...
  • by WoodenRobot ( 726910 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:30AM (#11775417) Homepage
    And yes, people who "don't read classic literature" are, perforce, less completely educated -- or at the very least, less cultured. I make no claims regarding intelligence, however.

    Not everyone has the time or inclination to read, for example, Joyce or Tolstoy - but there's an difference between not reading the classics and not reading at all. Those that aren't really into such books can still be voracious readers (me, for example).

    I think the worst kind of reading habit is to read nothing but celebrity magazines.

  • The real problem. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoupIsGoodFood_42 ( 521389 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:35AM (#11775435)
    99% of everything is crap. Blog are no different. This is their only problem. Could everyone please now shut the fuck up about blogs? Thanks.
  • by tezza ( 539307 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:45AM (#11775465)
    Joel Spolsky, frequent Blogger decided to release a Dead Tree compendium of his articles [].

    To quote his rationale:

    the biggest advantage of the book is that when you throw it at your colleague's head after a very frustrating argument about whether to throw away all your code and start over from scratch, it makes more of an impact than a URL

    Blogging can spread the word, but references to printed material carry a lot more weight [no pun] than an html page full of supportive links.

    Anyone interested in how this free speach thing corrupts society on a wider scale through disinformation, should go to Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park in London.

    There you will see the Evangelicals preaching to their convverted congregation who turn up to support and cry Hallelulejah at the orchestrated time. You will also see a drunkard with a small footladder arguing that "G-d is a Lesbian". There are people listening. Ruin of society does not result.

    Note, actual Speakers' Corner content may vary.

  • by BlackHawk-666 ( 560896 ) <> on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:01AM (#11775519) Homepage
    (And yes, people who "don't read classic literature" are, perforce, less completely educated -- or at the very least, less cultured. I make no claims regarding intelligence, however.)

    The only part of this statement that could be construed as being true is that those who don't read classical literature are less educated *in classic literature*. Can you really claim to be as well educated in all aspects of knowledge, simply because you have read some old fiction? If not, then how can you claim to be better educated than others? You're certaintly not well educated in logic, that much is apparent.

    As to more cultured, there are vastly more forms of culture than the contents of these old stories. I attend film, ballet, musuems, theatre, rock/punk/dance/electro/improv electronica/classical concerts. I participate in role plays, and engage in a variety of other forms of culture. And I ensure I do this at least several times a month. I am a well cultured person, and have not read a single one of those "classic" literature novels the literatti seem so keen on - that's not to say I am not familiar with their contents, just that I am not interested in their contents. You try and hold literature as a way of separating yourself from others in society, to feel smug and superior, above others, when in fact you are exactly the same as the rest of us.

    Don't try comparing yourself to others, there is always someone out better than you are.

  • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <[tim.almond] [at] []> on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:22AM (#11775575) Homepage
    There's no difference between that and the publishing world, though. How many journals and books are written? And out of these, how many are Tolstoy or Dickens?

    The difference is the removal of the "premises". At one time, your information on which things to consume in terms of information was maintained by gatekeepers, and becoming a gatekeeper was expensive. You had to be a bookshop, and put a book in the window, or be a newspaper owner with premises, expensive presses and a distribution network.

    Blogging means that someone can post something about their town or their politics and people can just go get it. Sure, most of it is noise, but there are now "shop window" blogs that people go to to find other news (like boing boing and and are doing the filtering.

    The difference between this and traditional "shop windows" is that it's very easy to find other ones. It's frictionless and more about quality than established position.

    In some fields, traditional journalism can't touch blogging. Areas like science are covered badly by a lot of newspapers and TV. They often have a "science correspondent" who covers everything from astronomy to botany to the internet. They mostly don't know what they are on about except in one area. The net is great for this. I don't have to get some watered down version of the facts - I can get the raw data and process as I see fit.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:25AM (#11775584)
    A great example of this filtering can be seen at University Libraries. A researcher pointed out to me that my local universities had almost two full bookcases dedicated to studies of Marx, and not a full shelve concerned with Benjamin Franklin. The researcher thought this odd for a library in the United States.

    Odd, perhaps, but this can't be blamed on librarians. The complete works of Ben Franklin fills 25 volumes. Those of Marx run 50 volumes. But that's just their own work in their original languages -- the fact is, Marx's works have been translated, republished, and commented on and discussed by other writers much more frequently in history than Ben Franklin's. And the fact is, entire nations and people's have embraced Marx's work as the guiding principle of their political culture (for better or worse). While one can say the same of some of Franklin's ideas, there are no revolutions or mass movements in history built on "Franklinism." Even in the U.S., the country most directly touched by Franklin's ideas, very few people actually read him and far fewer write books about him. Many more read and write about Marx.

    If you feel there are too few books on Franklin at libraries, don't blame the librarians. They can only choose from what's available. You're right that part of a librarian's job is to filter information but they don't do it with such a blatant political ideology as you accuse them of here.

  • by kaiidth ( 104315 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:25AM (#11775585)
    It has happened to me a number of times that I've been searching for information on a problem, like hot pixels on my digital camera or solutions to obsecure software problems, and come across the answer on someone's blog.

    Frankly, I'm pretty happy that blogs exist, since the whole CMS thing lowers the threshold of Web publishing enough to allow people who can't be arsed with HTML to write stuff like that up. It takes a bored kind of person to bother designing a web page entirely around a five minute cure to a software problem, whereas a person with a blog will often just cut and paste a few lines. Untidy, ok, but sometimes handy.
  • by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:26AM (#11775588) Homepage
    The Enlightenment is over, the Renaissance is forgotten and millions of people live day to day in the darkness of oblivion. Oblivious to the great works and thoughts of millions of humans before them. Goethe would have cursed them.

    Remember that history is (and certainly was, anyway) written by the academics and the educated; the kind of intellectual stimulation you're describing through the ideas of the Englightenment and Renaissance probably only applied to a tiny veneer of high society, while for the vast majority of the European population, life remained, to quote Hobbes, nasty, brutish and short -- and without education.

    I think the real difference between "then" and "now" is that virtually anyone can throw anything on the internet -- so people who are ignorant or poor writers can bloviate on whatever subject they want, whereas the system that developed since the advent of the printing press usually imposed some sort of editorial judgment on writers. That meant someone acted as a gatekeeper, and the overall quality of writing was better. (Note that I'm not advocating for this kind of system of saying it was better; I'm just contrasting what was versus what is.)

    Plus, remember that when you read writings from, say, The Enlightenment, you're looking at what generations of scholars have determined to be the most significant and insightful writing of the time. The less important stuff that regurgitated outdated ideas isn't studied. At that time, it might not have been so obvious -- just like today, it's not very obvious what "blogs" are important, or how they are important. When newspapers first got started in a big way in America in the 1800s, they didn't adhere to to the high-quality standards most do today; in a century, maybe we'll see big, reputable "blogs" evolve into the NYTimes of the net -- and we'll have forgotten about how Sarah's parents are so mean and no one understands her anyway, but we'll remember something that may be obvious in hindsight but isn't obvious now.

  • Re:Irony: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jejones ( 115979 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:58AM (#11775702) Journal
    Having read TFA, I find myself struck by nothing so much as how very much like a blog entry this alleged "article" reads.

    I agree, with the following qualification: the article reads like a bad blog entry. Its author seems to be terminally obsessed with his own fancied cleverness.
  • dont worry (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:16AM (#11775755)
    first of all, a library has to filter. thats the wohle point. u cant store everything thats ever been written everywhere. even if you could, what you store, you have to organize and make it searchable. in doing that, you are filtering it.
    google is filtering. slashdot is filtering. everything is filtering.

    throwing your garbage in the trash can is 'filtering'.

    second of all, not everyone in the library thinks they are gods gift to protecting 'important ideas'. many of them would rather have more input from the public. but guess what? the public is intellectually lazy. they are perfectly happy leaving the autocratic bureaucracy of libraries unchallenged. sure bring democracy to iraq for 80 billion. but god forbid someone say that educational regents should be elected by the people.

    third of all, your local university library might have had a department that just studies 20th century russian politics or 19th century european philosophy. there are other reasons to explain a shelf full of marx besides 'librarians are a bunch of unamerican commies'.

    your statements are bigoted and ignorant. something that libraries strive to eradicate every day within our populace.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xSauronx ( 608805 ) <xsauronxdamnit&gmail,com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:20AM (#11775759)
    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.

    I'm not sure that we are becoming that kind of people....but rather that we already are. Look at the politicians we have in office, the decisions they make, and the laws they pass with little resistance or interest from the average American.

    My dad was reading what he thought was a funny email to me, something about left-wingers wanting the guantanamo bay priosners charged with something or released, and a right-winger saying how bad those people were and would the liberals like to baby sit a gun-toting terrorist.

    He stopped laughing when I asked how many cases he'd read about in the paper of those prisoners being charged and proven to be terrorists...when he realized he hadn't. He hadn't ever realized that the government that locked those people up is based around a constituiton that says *everyone* has rights to things like a fair trial.

    And he's not the only one who has no idea what the fuck is happening in the world outside his pretty little town. And he's not the only one who probably doesn't really care that much.

  • by clifyt ( 11768 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:36AM (#11775804)
    "Watch FNC during the day during "hard news" coverage (i.e., FOX & Friends, FOX News Live, Special Report, the FOX Report), NOT op-ed (i.e., Hannity and Colmes, O'Reilly Factor) and find any inaccurate or overly one-sided reporting."

    Ok, you consider Fox and Friends to be 'hard news coverage'. Its on right now. Everything is slanted to the republican point of view. For instance, it was just outed a few weeks ago that the White House was employing a 'reporter' that wasn't reporting for a legitimate newspaper, had been using a false name that was ok'd by the secret service and had questions vetted personally by their press secretary to softball back to him during the press conferences -- sometimes getting secret information that normally took a 3 month background check by standard White House employees, but they skipped most of it to ensure that he could ask the right questions.

    *YET* while in Russia, at a press conference with Russian president Putin, they are bitching that Putin had 2 questions thrown in "to make Bush look stupid and Putin's positions look acceptable to the Russian public".

    What? Did the forget the Gannon issue already?

    This was an example from 10 minutes ago.

    The Fox arguement went on to say Putin was solely elected by the Rich and Powerful and those gullible enough to believe that supporting the Rich and Powerful was the right thing. Jeezus Fucking Christ...there is a reason these guys are best of friends except when one or the other is pointing out the others 'flaws'.

    The problem with Fox news is that they have no clear cut distinction between their op-ed and their hard news. At the same time, this is why I like watching it because you don't have to guess at what side they are pushing you towards. Then again, liberal news is so disorganized that they really don't know what side of the debate to push you to (because there are no talking point faxes sent out by the DNC ever day) and as such, you do get a better reporting otherwise because they don't have such hard lines of what is the official view point.

    For the record, I'm an independant. I didn't vote for the president, but otherwise, I voted for mainly republicans in the last election (along with a few greens and other unelectables where I didn't like the two choices -- I'd love a 3rd and 4th party where they were less polarized and more common sense).

    But no, anyone that even trys to state that Foxnews isn't 90% partisan opinion is a fucking idiot.

    This is off topic, and I hope its voted down (and thats not a cry to vote it up -- I have more than enough Karma and its worth it), and at the same time, I hope the idiots that voted the parent as insightful need to have their moderation revoked and that topic modded offtopic just like this should be. Morons.
  • by untaken_name ( 660789 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:53AM (#11775856) Homepage
    i don't think strongbad is funny,

    Well, there went the shred of credibility you'd built up. Oh well. You were doing so well, too.

    Desperate attempt to remain on-topic:
    Some blogs are good. Some blogs are bad. Some are in between. Just like books. The only difference is that you don't have to pay $26.50 for a crappy blog.
  • by 1arkhaine ( 671283 ) <damian.kelleher@ ... om minus painter> on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:56AM (#11775864) Homepage
    Classic literature is important because it contains the wisdom of some of the most intelligent and insightful men and women of the past 2,000 years.

    Wisdom is one of the greatest parts of our cultural heritage, and it does not age at all. Yes, the superficial dressings may change, but the wisdom of the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Renaissance authors, the etc will never go out of date, and we can learn from it.

    Or are you so arrogant as to think that you are the net accumulation of wisdom in this world? I don't think that, which is why I read the classics.


    I do not think that reading the classics makes a person smarter. Not at all. It is up to their intelligence to digest the information properly. But the wisdom is there, if you want it. Say you do.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bawb ( 637210 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:12AM (#11775940)
    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.

    Having been married to a librarian and consequently having known a great many librarians, I can attest that this statement is almost entirely true. There are instances where librarians are allowed to put filters in place, but largely in only two ways: their "top picks" display(s) devoted to personal favorites - if the library even sports such a section or display, and also - as guessed at in an earlier post in this thread - in the promotion of favorite authors and genres/subjects via [usually] temporary and rotating displays/themes. Beyond that, the vast majority of librarians I've encountered are extremely fanatical (yes - fanatical) about unbiased presentation of all available information to users. If you doubt this, I invite you to walk into a library and ask the librarians themselves and the people who frequently use their services.

    This equal dissemination of information is what librarians live for. Ask them just how far they, the library, and library system are willing to go to find you the book/subject you want - regardless of how obscure or unpopular the author, book, or subject matter.
  • by _|()|\| ( 159991 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:24AM (#11776024)
    blogs are for the most part internet pollution, redundant, inane, ego-stroking, and self-serving.

    90% of everything is crap. Blogs are no exception. It's just a medium, which, I'll admit, doesn't yet have its Anne Frank.

  • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by son_of_asdf ( 598521 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:36AM (#11776122)

    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.

  • Re:Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:59AM (#11776356)
    Keep in mind that if you held Picasso to the same artistic standards as his predecessors, he would be useless trash too...

    I beg to differ []

    Picasso did abstract work most of the time because he chose to, not because he couldn't do realistic portrats.
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X_Bones ( 93097 ) <> on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:04AM (#11776393) Homepage Journal
    That was one of the most painful posts I've ever read on Slashdot. Do you find it even the least bit ironic that your post, rife with spelling and grammatical errors (in a language-related thread, no less), was full of pretentious language and sounded exactly like the whiny blog posts you're complaining about?

    ok, apart from the wierd metaphore quite a good post methinks.

    Apparently not.
  • Re:Librarians (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daigu ( 111684 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:21AM (#11776582) Journal

    I'm a librarian. I've said it before here and I imagine that I'll say it again: Librarians are - in many respects - editors of whole collections. Just as an editor for a single work can make it more lucid, readable or relevant for a particular purpose, a librarian can make an entire collection more lucid, readable or relevant for a particular purpose.

    I think there are three issues at play here.

    First, you are correct that blogs are outside of the "filters" librarians are involved with - at this point. However, librarians aren't threatened by blogs. Quite the opposite because the more prevalent blogs become the more people will need someone to filter the collection. If blogs are going to be relevant at all, it will make more jobs for librarians.

    You may be one of the people that thinks that you are all for democracy and don't want any filters - and I applaud your enthusiasm. Most people, do not share it though. It takes a lot of time and a lot of smarts to do that work and most people do not want to focus their efforts in that way - which is where a librarian comes in. They are essentially paid to do that work for you - so it is easier to find what you need.

    Some of that hiring out of that work means the person making choices might make different choices than you would. I'd argue that this is both a good and bad thing. It is good because it might expose you to something you would have not thought to look at on your own. It is bad in so far as prevents you from getting access to something you want. For example, try to find books from the primitive anarchist John Zerzan outside an Oregan library. It simply isn't available, but then again, most people aren't particularly interested in Zerzan and the librarian has to make choices about the best way to use their limited book purchasing funds.

    Which brings us to the second point, selection of what is good is subjective. If I were to guess, the reason that there is a several bookcases devoted to Marxism is because it is culturally significant in ways that Benjamin Franklin is not. For example, can you tell me in what ways Benjamin Franklin has impacted the development of feminism or the formation of governments? Can you talk to what impact Benjamin Franklin has had internationally?

    I think the example you use is probably justified in an academic environment. I do not know how many dissertations were written on Benjamin Franklin over the last ten years compared to Marxism - but I'm certain that a great deal more research went into Marxism.

    However, one thing that might bolster your argument would be to talk about access. It is almost a joke in librarian circles about how easy it is to apply subject headings to books on homosexuality. Librarians - as a class - probably have higher proportions of homosexuals than the general public so this reveals a genuine bias. However, it swings other ways too in that librarians tend to be middle-class and white. Sandy Berman has been one of the most persistent and vocal critics of subject heading bias and has done what he can to move subject headings more to the vernacular (I'm still waiting on Cookery into Cooking Sandy!).

    The third issue is more of an internal one among librarians. There are librarians like Gerry McKiernan. He used to post all kinds of things about new technology and how they are going to change everything librarians do. How is the Podcasting going to revolutionize librarianship? How can librarians use blogs to better serve people?

    Gerry represents a sub-class of librarians that think that technology is going to change everything and often wants to posts things in forums where it is of questionable relevance. I disagree with Gerry. I think Podcasting will have little if any relevance to librarianship. This isn't to say that technology like RFID won't drastically change things in libraries - but Gerry rarely talks about more concrete issues.

    I'm frankly tired of that type of discussion. Technology doesn't fundamentally change the principles

  • by rednip ( 186217 ) * on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:34AM (#11776727) Journal
    Do you find it even the least bit ironic that your post, rife with spelling and grammatical errors (in a language-related thread, no less), was full of pretentious language and sounded exactly like the whiny blog posts you're complaining about?
    Every time there is a featured article which is critical of blogger's writing sytle, you find someone who bitches about poor writing sytle, while commiting grevious errors themselves. I was looking for it, but you beat me to the punch. What really funny is that slashdot is a first cousin of blogs, perhaps even an ancestor, and has many of the same problems which exist here; spelling and grammar errors, factual mistakes, poor research, personal agendas (and I'm just talking about my own posts!).
  • Re:Librarians (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bpd ( 862692 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:41AM (#11776816)
    "I suspect that many librarians see the class of librarians as social structure charged with selecting filtering that ideas that will seep into the culture at large"

    You've placed the cart directly before the horse. The ethical librarian does not develop a collection to further a personal viewpoint, we develop a collection to meet the needs of the user population. In the specific case of the University library Marx/Franklin example, did the diligent researcher also look at the number of reading assignments given to the users of the library that dealt with either Marx or Franklin? How about the number of books published dealing with each? If there's a Communist Librarian Plot, I have yet to be invited to the meetings.

    On the subject of librarians fearing blogs due to the "democratization" of information selection, again, you've missed it a bit. The problem with blogs as a "library-worthy" source of information is that they are mostly at the level of gossip, bluntly. Pick your favorite (later proven false) blog rumor, and try to figure out where it started.

    Librarians don't fear democritication of access to information, that's what we're about. Opposing that, though, is the need to allocate limited (and becoming more limited, almost daily) resources to getting the information that the most people will find useful, preserving it, and making it available to the public *in a way that allows easy retrieval*. If you feel like your library isn't doing a right job of it, talk to the librarians to understand what they're trying to do, and then bend your congresscritter's ear about funding.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @12:20PM (#11777984)
    Oh no, the bishop in the cathedral doesn't like the unwashed masses ignoring him.

    Some of the most insightful, life changing works that I have read are among some of the essays that I have found on blogs. The bishop is irrelevant.

    Blogs brought down the lies of 60 minutes. That's good enough for me.

    As they say, information wants to be free. How much more free can you get? So what if 99% is crap. I'll read and decide what to keep. I don't need the ALA to do that for me...
  • by jamesbrown1000 ( 39200 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @01:38PM (#11779109) Homepage Journal
    News flash, Dave:

    Every fucking thing you said about the blogosphere can be atrributed to "trusted" news sources you so blindingly believe in.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss ...

    At least I usually know what biases a blog is operating under and within. I can filter accordingly. But the illusion of "objectivity" makes mainstream sources very, very hard to stomach.
  • Re:Librarians (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @01:56PM (#11779303) Homepage Journal
    Even in the U.S., the country most directly touched by Franklin's ideas, very few people actually read him and far fewer write books about him.

    This has changed. I talk to older people. Franklin was widely read and admired up to the great social revolutions of 60s. I should have mentioned that the researcher I referred to had a different problem round about fifty years ago when he couldn't find books on Hegel or Marx and had to go to the library board to request to purchase such books. There was a completely different set of filters in place. The filters were more openly acknowledged.

    Today, librarians work to deny the existence of filters. Librarians and bookstores have always had to run filters as their simply is not enough bookshelve space. Books go through all sorts of processes where they are reviewed and discussed before being put on the shelves. In the 60s and 70s we went through a period where books favorable to the founders of the US were filtered out.

  • by InfoRaptor ( 818589 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:00PM (#11780107)

    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.'"

    First of all, let's see how well Mr. Gorman and his ilk do solving a quadratic equation.

    Try this:
    Given the quality of the mathematics used by your cronies, it is unlikely that many of the Gorman Gang are in the habit of sustained computation. It is entirely possible that your analytic needs are met by an accumulation of sloppy analysis and poor numbers.

    Interesting, isn't it?

    Blogs are not a threat. Gorman's elitism is. Expecting all people to write like Heinlan, Joyce, Homer, etc. is illogical. Furthermore, many grammatical errors do not affect meaning of the words (not a excuse for bad writing). This is because the English language is 50% redundant. You'd know this if you'd step outside your narrow view. Of course, this (50% English language redundancy) was discovered by Claude Shannon, the daddy of information theory. One of those infotech fanatics!

    I wander what would happen if the Gorman Gang's math and programming skills were held to the same level as Slashdot members. I can hear it now:

    1. I'm a people person, not a programmer
    2. It's cold without feeeelings
    3. This has no soul
    4. ..Other pyschobabble...
  • by shalla ( 642644 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:27PM (#11780396)
    I think a preference for Marx represents thinly veiled anti-Americanism, or at least American liberal guilt.

    Or maybe you're a little paranoid?

    I think the "preference" for Marx coverage over Franklin coverage in university libraries has to do with the fact that Marx is covered in a lot more college courses. He's in history courses, philosophy courses, economics courses, poli sci courses...

    Yes, Franklin was influential in the founding of the USA, but his impact on the world as a whole was not as great as that of Marx. Marx's ideas inspired whole movements and political shifts, revolutions, demonstrations, literature, and a lot of pot smoking uni students.

    We're not discussing who is more worthy here. We're discussing how the world today was shaped by ideas, and Marx is one of the absolute biggest names out there. He's rightfully discussed in a lot of college courses and a lot of differing sources on him are necessary.

    If you'd like, compare the number of items in a public library. The one I work for has 47 items on Benjamin Franklin and 4 on Karl Marx. Why is this? (I'll give you a hint: I don't think it represents thinly veiled anti-European sentiments.) It's because a lot more members of the American public want to read about Ben Franklin's life, and a lot more elementary and high school kids do reports on Ben Franklin.

    A good library's contents are driven by the needs and desires of its patrons. Treating coverage of Marx and Franklin as indicative of the beliefs of librarians is laughable.
  • Re:Irony: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ertdredge ( 658656 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:37PM (#11780521) Homepage
    To: Library Journal BackTalk <fialkoff at>
    From: ertdredge

    Dear BackTalk,

    Michael Gorman's piece ("Revenge of the Blog People!", February 15) is one of the most acerbic, defensive, and unpleasant bits of commentary I have read this century. The "Blog People," as he kindly dubs the millions of people who now publish their thoughts online without the benefit of editors, have a name for people who post comments as needlessly combative as his: Troll.

    While I agree with many of Mr. Gorman's points, I also agree with many of the points made by his detractors, and his attempts to disarm their arguments by sarcastically parroting them is childish at best. Blogs are indeed full of mindless nattering, but there is plenty of worthwhile content published there as well. If Mr. Gorman considers the points raised in such forums worthy of any response at all, they should be worthy of being addressed civilly.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:10PM (#11781573)
    You're right that there are filters, but you're full of shit that libraries are filtering out books favorable to the US founders. I can find them in any library. Franklin may have been "widely read and admired" by some, but Marx has been (and still is) read and commented upon (by both admirers and critics) far far more than Franklin. Search the library of congress, if you care to, and you'll see that people are just writing more books about Marx than about Franklin.

    I'm not saying there are no political factors at work when libraries decide what books to buy, but the conspiracy to undermine American revolutionary thought that you see at work here is just your own self-serving paranoia.

    Also, you're flat-out wrong about it being hard to find books on Hegel or Marx fifty years ago. Your friend's local public library may not have carried them, and I'm not denying that the McCarthy witch hunt era had a significant effect on universities and their libraries, the fact is that serious scholars read and commented on these works throughout the twentieth century, the 1950s included.

    Not to mention that any anticommunist crusade in libraries would not have targeted Hegel, who was in fact read (and written about) by many conservative thinkers, including Allan Bloom and of course Leo Strauss, the father of today's neoconservatism.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!