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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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  • Great to see (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @02:56AM (#11774659)
    Great to see a librarian laying it on the line. I've long suspected some of them feel this way. If it's out in the open, maybe we can have a good debate that reveals how librarians sacrifice the needs of users to serve their own interests of hanging onto their control of information budgets in academia.
  • by the real chahn ( 727189 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @02:59AM (#11774683)
    While I doubt blogs will ever replace the traditional media, they do serve a valuable purpose. They have access to literally thousands of people who are interested in a topic and therefore can muster quite a bit of fact-checking/investigating, something far beyond the capacity of most "traditional" journalists to do when pressed with a deadline. This can both generate new information as well as track down leads more effectively than print media.

    Lack of accountability is not necessarily a bad thing in this context, because it represents the pinnacle of the marketplace of ideas - literally any idea can be proposed and defended. There's obviously a great potential for this to support idiocy and fringe hate groups, but those groups will always exist. On the other hand, it provides a useful check on traditional media, who are too often losing their sense of objectivity and urge to find the truth because of media consolidation, need to maintain political access, etc.

    Finally, blogs have a unique ability to cater to particular interest groups and focus discussion to a level not seen in traditional media. While you may see it as groupthink, many political blogs in fact engage in sustained debate over the best strategy for their base. If all we had were blogs, you'd be correct that groupthink could run wild. But, there's still the real world to deal with, and any community that wants to interact with others needs to find a way to do so effectively or they simply won't be listened to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:05AM (#11774717)
    DailyKos [dailykos.com] recently uncovered a fake reporter in the White House press core. I'd say that's a pretty striking accomplishment.

    Consider that you are posting on Slashdot, Dave. And you do it quite regularly. Meaning you read it quite regularly.
  • by Captain Damnit ( 105224 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:06AM (#11774731)
    Blogs are to the media what open source is to software...if enough eyes look at a story, the odds of a critical piece of information slipping through the cracks is drastically lower, even if the prose in question looks suspiciously like the product of 20 billion drunken monkeys. Case in point: Guckert-gate. A whole room full of professional journalists, who no doubt possess grammatical skills far greater than the average blogger, missed the obvius fact that the schmuck in the front row asking questions was a GOP plant. Leave the creation of literature to the literati...blogs are at their best when they keep the "real" media honest.
  • Lazarus Long (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jIyajbe ( 662197 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:16AM (#11774783)
    The fortune at the bottom of the page right now reminds me of another Lazarus Long quote that seems appropos of bloggers:

    "Despotism is the idea that one man is smarter than a million men. Democracy is the idea that a million men are smarter than one man. Who decides?"

    Why should I pay attention to what any blogger has to say? And why does the fact that there are a million bloggers change the answer to that question?

    And of course, there's the old saying about opinions and assholes...

    I read professional sites/magazines/newspapers because I have reason to believe that, due to the training and experience of those who run it, and those who report for it, what is published has a good chance of being approximately true, and approximately informed. While it is true (before others point it out) that this belief is becoming increasingly unlikely to be true, nevertheless I have NO such expectation for any random blogger's musings, and so I see no reason to read them, except perhaps for amusement.

    Blogs as the future of journalism? I doubt it. I certainly fear it.

  • by trufflemage ( 860010 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @03:56AM (#11774962)
    Your point is valid with respect to at least one participant: me. Posting online yields instant rewards. I think there may be a real danger here. I confess that in my short time on Slashdot, I've been tremendously aware of mod points (maybe even more concerned with mod points than the responses to my posts?) Yes, online I get attention. In RL I'm not published (though I've tried to become so) and online, I'm a writer with an audience. Admittedly a small audience, but an audience, and the danger lies in the ease of posting and the rewards I get (if I admit, and I do, that I write for attention) for posting. Folks respond, my ego becomes involved, and as often as not an argument ensues.

    From the article:

    I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.

    While I don't share Michael Gorman's dismissal of Blog People's abilities (his "intellectual needs" comment is galling), I do think he's rubbed his fingers over a kernel of truth. The fact is, that blogging and online reading (ie, surfing the web) have largely edged out something else in my life: reading books. Not that I've given up the practice, but that I'm less inclined to do it than I used to be, and more inclined to lose large periods of time in front of the computer screen. (I do not say the medium is to blame; I want to avoid digital vs. paper catfights.) I suspect my behavior is related to a feedback loop of work/reward. Posting online requires relatively little work and yields relatively immediate reward. Reading online, similarly, is quick & easy compared to novels. I flatter myself that I monitor the cutting edge of news via the web--and I believe it is possible to do so, and Slashdot may even be an aid towards doing so--but in fact, I derive as much satisfaction out of a rousing debate on inane trivia (provided I win, or score points or prestige) as I do out of debating issues of real significance. The gratification of the moment doesn't care what the subject is, only that I'm reading/writing/evaluating...and getting attention.

    Yes, you've struck a nerve, O Anonymous Coward.

    There's a larger point too, having to do with attention span, that is implicitly raised in M. Gorman's comment. It may be that as I feed myself with digital snacks I to some degree lose interest in meatier works. It's easy to show off a little knowledge of calculus, should a discussion head that direction, and easy enough to look up on Google the innards of whatever physics question is the problem of the moment, since those are quick and work-free; it's much harder to sustain a quiet and real course of study on some difficult topic. A steady diet of snacks may gradually wear down my ability to sustain long-term learning and interacting.

    I may have to curtail my participation herewith. :)
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sasami ( 158671 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:05AM (#11775015)
    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.

    My, my. What a ready defense.

    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?

    If one wishes to write for the public, one should expect to be appraised on one's literary ability, or lack of it.

    I have met normal, middle-class high school seniors who were unable to calculate the correct change for $14 out of $20 (they eventually figured it out after nearly 5 minutes of intense collaboration). Would you defend as a "life choice" this basic ineptitude, as you do the inability to read and write a complex argument?

    Though it is rather fitting, I must say, that Mr. Gorman's thoughts on Google are as unintelligent and ill-informed as he accuses "the Blog People" of being.

    Dum de dum.
  • by po8 ( 187055 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:45AM (#11775137)

    What amuses and annoys me about Michael Gorman's comments (and yes, I did read them and understand them) is how arrogant they are. Gorman, as President-Elect of the American Library Association, is not just proud enough to say how much smarter he is than other commentators about managing information. No, he's proud enough to dream of telling Google how to manage their money. He's proud enough to characterize a whole class of people intelligent enough to operate a computer as mouth-breathing idiots.

    Best of all, he's very proud of how the Universal Bibliographic Control [ifla.org] scheme he endorses will solve the world's information access problems. Now please understand: UBC doesn't actually give anyone access to source materials. In point of fact, it seems to be a scheme for trying to assemble a meta-bibliography---in other words, a list of what printed materials you could read if you could get your hands on them. This is unlike Google, an organization crass enough to actually digitize the text of books, to put you one click away from the primary source of the information it indexes, and to maintain backup copies of that information against the loss of the primary source. It is unlike Project Gutenberg, an organization that has already published a huge number of digitized texts that are now available to anyone with Internet access. It is unlike even the bloggers, who at least make their own work fully available online. Gorman apparently has the more limited goal of indexing materials without providing access to them, while mocking the efforts of these other organizations to provide access.

    On the offhand chance that Michael Gorman is reading this, let me make my position as clear as possible. I am a scientific research and (if I do say so myself) a fairly literate writer. I use Google, Wikipedia, Citeseer, Project Gutenberg, and other online information resources on a daily basis, because I've found them to be quite effective for me. I read about five fiction novels a month. The last time I used a library card catalog was about 6 months ago. The reasons for this have nothing to do with the comprehensiveness of my University library's bibliography, and everything to do with the paucity of its actual content.

    I support our American public libraries, because I think they're an important bulwark in our fight for free speech. In terms of effectiveness in serving my needs and the needs of my family and friends, they are so bad that I fear for their future. Mr. Gorman, please keep in mind that when public library funding comes up for public discussion, your comments, especially given your position, are extraordinarily unhelpful. So, in the jargon of the "blog people" you so despise, please STFU.

  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kiryat Malachi ( 177258 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @04:48AM (#11775144) Journal
    I would consider myself a bibliophile.

    I have nothing against digitizing works; however, a dead tree remains an incredibly good way to enjoy static printed matter. Ebooks and the like are fine in concept, but the execution still seems lacking to me, in terms of convenience, portability, and durability. Ever dropped an ebook reader in the bath and gotten it working again? I've dropped books that came out with no damage worse than an irritating waviness to the paper when they dried, and a tendency for the pages to stick together until the book had been read a couple times through. So while I have nothing inherently against digitized works, I absolutely condone the use of dead trees - they're still the best solution to the problem.

    If your friends want to read on the go, I suggest two innovations to them: a paperback in the back pocket, and a bookmark to go with the book.

    As to the second point: are those who don't read classic literature inferior, lowly, ill-educated, and unintelligent? Well, yes and no. Does not reading "Ulysses" make you an imbecile? No. Hell no. Does reading a diet mainly of science fiction make you one? Possibly. I'd have to distinguish. Are you reading Star Trek books? Or are you reading something like James Morrow, Stanislaw Lem, Phillip K. Dick, and Vernor Vinge? Some bibliophiles are entirely too narrow in their definition of literature. But I absolutely do think that people incapable of reading reasonably complex literary works (whether they be 'classical' literature or not) lack quite a bit in the intelligence department.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:06AM (#11775191)
    I think it's pretty clear that this guy doesn't understand how to use search engines properly and doesn't have the patience to learn.

    I think you've never used a good search engine. So far, by their nature, they are mostly limited to specific niches. But he is absolutely right when he says that google is inefficient. Scaling the functionality of the niche search tools to something as broad as the entire net or even just the "blogosphere" is damn hard, but librarians are on the cutting edge of that research. Google may be the best tool at what it does today, but that doesn't mean it is even close to the best possible tool.

    Comparing google to a tool like lexis/nexis is like comparing a bicycle a formula 1 race car. The bicycle can go pretty much anywhere but it is going to take a heck of a long time and you'll be pretty sore by the time you get there. The formula 1 car isn't much good off the track, but on track it's orders of magnitude more powerful than any bicycle.
  • Re:Duh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:13AM (#11775219) Journal
    I don't know about being a waste of resources but you're right that these blogs are poisoning search engines.

    My blog, has a tiny mention of Bifidus Digestivum (a new miracle incredient) and a commentry on an amusing Danone advert. Now, most of the traffic I get is from people searching for

    Bifidus digestivum
    danone actress
    danone advert mother daughter

    A lot of people are coming to my blog and really, just finding crap. Try it yourself, do a google for Bifidus digestivum and you'll see a site called 'buffoons'.

    I heard that there was to be a separate index for blogs in Google. personally I think this would be excellent.
  • Shouters? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:13AM (#11775221) Homepage
    I dunno; at least on TV, the right seems to have the edge (*cough* Bill "Shut Up" O'Reilly *cough*) on angry shouters. You can certainly find yammering harridans on both sides of the fence, but I don't remember any major CBS/ABC/NBC/CNN figures screaming at their guests to shut up.

    Then again, I don't have TV, and I hear about these things second-hand through blogs.

    --grendel drago
  • by mungojelly ( 853032 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:18AM (#11775227) Homepage
    The difference seems to be that paragraph-long texts are generally not even available in print media.

    In fact, print media are so ritualized in their formats that only particular specific lengths are allowed. For instance novels are very unlikely to be published if they are too long or too short-- all but the very highest rung of authors are unable to fight their editors' demands to conform to the standard length.

    I think on the whole I prefer to be free of that sort of stifling limitation, both as a writer & a reader, but of course like all freedoms it does come with a matching responsibility: to take over for ourselves the task of judging what is worthy of our attention, & not get drawn into dead-ends & mounds of trivia.

  • by Jaruzel ( 804522 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:33AM (#11775272) Homepage Journal
    Not true. Most modern librarians are DB experts with a sweeping understanding of complex data structures and data mining. I should know, I'm married to one. Card catalogs went out of fashion in the 1980s
  • by adeydas ( 837049 ) <`adeydas' `at' `inbox.com'> on Friday February 25, 2005 @05:39AM (#11775286) Homepage Journal
    "Those characteristics are ignored and excused by those who think that Google is the creation of "God's mind," because it gives the searcher its heaps of irrelevance in nanoseconds. Speed is of the essence to the Google boosters, just as it is to consumers of fast "food," but, as with fast food, rubbish is rubbish, no matter how speedily it is delivered."

    And perhaps you have a better idea to search thousands of books in a matter of seconds other than digitising it and using the best search algorithm in this world! May be he wants us to search the catalogue and browse through thousands of books to find that one paragraph about something I wish to know for my paper. Talk about wastage of time. Even ancient manuscripts in India are being digitised with optical scanners by NIC [www.nic.in] so that it becomes accessible to scholars in the quickest manner possible. Also these pieces of history can be preserved for longer periods if kept away from the hassle of observation every other day. I believe the same goes with books too.

    "If a fraction of the latter were devoted to buying books and providing librarians for the library-starved children of California, the effort would be of far more use to humanity and society."

    Same might have been done in case of Iraq and Afghanistan too. But considering that the threats were true, if the wars were not waged, then another building would have collapsed or a nuclear bomb would have hit LA. My point is if we want to preserve our books and history and learn in the quickest manner possible, we have to bring technology into consideration. The only thing static in any field is change.
  • by abesottedphoenix ( 468980 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:05AM (#11775354)
    Carol Brey Casiano is the current President. This guy is the boob in waiting, and should shut his piehole until he's the actual President. Not to mention that most of the librarians I know have all but given up on ALA as a national organisation.
  • by Ingolfke ( 515826 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @06:47AM (#11775477) Journal
    This antidigital windbag doesn't have a clue what he's talin' about. Clearly he's only concerned with the job of stupid librarians who can be easily replaced by Google vast array of Linux boxes running perl and python. If this jerk had ever been root on a box he'd understand the situation he and the rest of his library sissy friends find themselves in. He'd soil his trowsers if he had a clue about what a beowulf cluster could do to him. I'm so sickandtired of people blasting my blog, the blog subculture, the fact that blooggers are the new digerati, the new press, the new way to a free open and open society. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a affilliatted with the RIAA, MPAA, SCO or Microsoft. He even contradicts himself in his own rambling babble saying "If a fraction of the [Blog People] were devoted to buying books and providing librarians for the library-starved children of California, the effort would be of far more use to humanity and society." Idiot! Everyone knows the only thing kids go to library's for are the open access to computers which means pr0n and war3z.

    Bottom line, just because my blog isn't censored by the neocon right wing fascist fox & friends loving librarians doesn't mean everything I've said about Bush, the RIAA, my water cooling, Open Source as a way of life, and why Paris Hilton is too hot to hate, but too dumb to love. Editors, libraries, congresscritters, all of that is meant to eliminate free speach by a society bent on taking over other cuntries' oil so they can destroy the world with toxic air polluttents (join the Kyoto protocol or I'm moving!) I for one say no.

    Bottom line, What he doesn't understand is that blogs aren't about being right or wrong, that doesn't matter in the slightest bit. The point of blogs is to expand the minds and thought namespace of the readers of the blogs, to incense them and give them a sense of holy ignorance and anger that they can use as fuel for seeming important, informed, educated, and as if they've got all the right answers. My blog is like a gas stations for your ego. Stop by, fill up, and contribute back to and open society that will take what they like and what is useful to them and add it to their own thoughts, and ideas, and then give it back. It's the GPL for your mind! But this guy can't see himself as anything but the gate keeper to information, there must be hard copy books stored in his library so he can "sssssshhhhhhhhh!" you when your IPod is up too loud.

    In the the end, you can't burn 1s and 0s, but paper and librarians burn like a mutherf***er.
  • The Tory Party Joke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlackHawk-666 ( 560896 ) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @07:12AM (#11775544) Homepage
    There's an old joke in the UK that goes

    In the US they have the Republicans, which are just like our Tories, and they also have the Democrats, which are just like our Tories. For those outside the UK, the Tories are our right wing party.

  • by Stankatz ( 846709 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:02AM (#11775713)
    http://www.infomotions.com/serials/colldv-l/05/005 4.shtml/ [infomotions.com]

    I don't really understand his concern. He writes in reference to what an average person might do after doing a google print search:

    Are you going to print the book, and end up with 500 unbound sheets? Or will you request the actual book (in copyright or out) through the active and developed interlibrary lending system that supplies thousands of books daily to scholars, researchers and dilettantes worldwide? The latter involves a short wait, of course. We all know that, in Googleworld, speed is of the essence, but it is not to most scholarly research in the real world.
    If speed isn't essential to scholarly research in "the real world," why won't scholars continue to use his and other librarian's services? Google Print will cater to those people who won't go to the trouble of requesting books from other libraries and would, in the absence of a service like Google Print, would otherwise miss out on the information completely instead of getting it in at least in snippets.

    In any case, Google's service isn't positioned as an information gathering resource anyway. It's supposed to be used to find books you might be interested in, and it works quite well at that. I've personally gone out and acquired copies of three books (at a library no less!) as a direct result of google print searches.

  • by Kirth ( 183 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:11AM (#11775739) Homepage
    Sounds a bit like me.

    "Ritterburg und Fürstenschloss" - Excavation-report from the Oberveste Passau (mainly 15th up to some some 18th century). It's a bit dry, but it has a lot of nice pictures ;))

    "The Medieval Horse" - Excavations from London. Same style as above, hundreds of pictures and descriptions of finds.

    And then of course, "Ensel und Kretel" from Walter Moers. A Fairy Tale.
  • by thelizman ( 304517 ) <hammerattack AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @08:48AM (#11775841) Homepage
    While his tone is dripping with condescension, not everyone who writes a blog is worthy to have their thoughts read. I write my blog for the sake of friends and relatives, and some people find my words either interesting or infuriating. I wouldn't deign to assume that I am at the vanguard of a new type of media content distribution paradigm as some people do. Over at K5 there's a hack piece on the blogosphere just about every week, and they all have the same conceited notion that blogs will revolutionize the world. I think that often we, the technorati, get so wrapped up in the splendor of what technology can do, that we tend to overestimate what it will do. Todays predictions of a new media format through wikis and blogs are analagous to the flying cars and domed cities of the 50's.
  • by Black-Man ( 198831 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:01AM (#11775883)
    They become fractious and ultimately divided forums that are the 21st century's version of the 18th century op-ed in that high-tech medium of the day... the printing press.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Petrie_SMG ( 755866 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:15AM (#11775967)
    Librarians do have lot of power as gatekeepers of information. However, in trying to find the worst of reasons (censorship), you overlook the most basic of reasons. Librarians are here to help you find information that you need. In a school or univeristy, they are there to help support the curriculum of the school. I am sure there are classes on economics, sociology, or political science at your university. And while Franklin is important in U.S. history, political science, etc., I doubt material on Franklin is referenced with nearly as much need as Marx.

    You should try reading the "Library Bill of Rights" and specifically the "Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries" from ala.org. Those should answer your questions about the "tyranny" of filtering by librarians.

    And because I have to, I'll comment on the last part of your post. I don't believe his comments are aimed at someone like yourself, who understands the limitations of blogs. I think they're aimed at the people who feel that information is inherently better just because it comes from a blog or Wikipedia as opposed to a scholarly journal or edited volume.

    Now, if you'd like to go find blogs yourself, that's fine. But do you expect librarians to spend their time selecting and cataloging blogs for you? And would you feel that is more important that selecting and cataloging scholarly writings, especially in a university setting?

    You seem to have some sort of librarians. Ahh, if only everyone feared us like you do! We could finally get salaries that reflect our level of education! And every school in America could actually afford books for their students! And maybe every library, regardless of whether they actually need it or not, would have two cases each for Marx and Ben Franklin.
  • Re:Librarians (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @09:50AM (#11776244)
    Nothing by Ayn Rand belongs in a library, unless the library happens to have public toilets.

    Any writer hated that strongly by a small group of angry critics belongs in every library in America. She might be wrong, but she certainly provokes discussion and critical thinking.

    If there wasn't an Ayn Rand to spell out exactly what objectivism is, I would not know that I'm not an objectivist.

    Any library which does not have both "Catcher in the Rye" and "Mein Kampf" might as well be turned into a Wal-Mart.
  • Re:Irony: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JamesOfTheDesert ( 188356 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:17AM (#11777212) Journal
    how very much like a blog entry this alleged "article" reads.

    Hardly. Not one use of the words "cool" or "mash-up"; not peppered with links to other sites with complimentary views; proper grammar; coherent thoughts expresed in complete sentences.

    It's an op-ed piece, largely on-target in its critique of bloggers, though he misunderstands the value of Google.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:19AM (#11777236)
    The question of librarians' filtering function is interesting and very important. Obviously, except for the largest university research libraries and depository libraries akin to the Library of Congress and the British equivalent, no library will add to their collections annually anything close to what's actually published. So, the question becomes on what criteria do librarians select material to be added, and what criteria do librarians select material to be discareded.

    Is there such a consensus among librarians, especially university librarians, on what constitutes 'acceptable' material to be added that it serves as a political filter? I'm not certain, but it would be consistent with everything else in academia these days.

    When I was a graduate student in the University of California system in the '70s, I was struck by how catholic the collections were in the major libraries, how wide-ranging the scholarship was and on all sides. But, I also recall that conservative scholarship available was often very old, almost primary source material, and that modern conservative scholarship was not much in evidence.

    Local public libraries see the problem much more starkly, with limited budgets and a public they must please to stay in business. There, you are much more likely to find current popular ficition and non-fiction, than the core works in any discipline. Different filters at work.

    I think the biggest problem comes at the small college or university library, which is much more closely constrained in maintaining and pruning its collection, by both funds and space.

    In a sense, things like prject Guttenberg are especially important, so that works that have been standard for generations, are not lost as they are replaced by current fads.

    In history, my own first graduate field, I have found through random browsing in college libraries in recent years that dozens of books in my own modest collection of a few thousand volumes, books that were considered essential to an historian's education -- and which still populate the biographical sections of the better (but not necessarily the most popular) current textbooks -- are not in the undergraduate collections.

  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @01:37PM (#11779081) Homepage
    I hate the word "blog". I know, it's heretical to say that. But the whole origin of the word is stupid, vague and probably fictional. There was, of course, originally the word "weblog", and that set my teeth on edge too. A "Web log" is, literally, the record of HTTP transactions with a server. Supposedly, "weblog" originally came to be applied to online discussion sites like Drudge imitators because these people would obsessively tail or otherwise monitor their logfiles in real time and watch the hits come.

    The trouble is, no one I know who does or ever did run such a site has ever done this. I did it whenever I posted a link to something I wrote on USENET, and people I knew (hardcore geeks, most of em) thought I was a little weird for doing it (and some of them thought that about me posting to USENET too).

    Nowadays you can't do that with most blogs, which are hosted on servers not owned by the "blogger". And "blog" has become so broadly applied that people now call any page written in a first-person singular tone that allows feedback a "blog". Sorry, your LiveJournal page is NOT A BLOG. It's not anything particularly special or worthy of a special name, unless maybe you're Linus Torvalds or John Carmack or somebody else whose every word people hang on with bated* breath.

    It's time to face the facts. The term "weblog" was nonsensically conceived to begin with, even more nonsensical in later application, and is now so diluted as to be essentially meaning-free anyway. It denotes no useful categorization. The only thing in its favor is that it was the first term to come into existence to denote what was, at the time, a usefully-demarcated subset of online content. Simple inertia should not rule the day and I for one move that we begin the hunt for a new, more-appropriate term.

    * Not a typo. "Baited breath" is incorrect and in fact nonsensical usage.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb