Michael Gorman, President-Elect of the American Library Association, wrote this column in Library Journal attacking bloggers. His ire is understandable, if misplaced; he apparently received vitriolic reviews of this Op-Ed [PDF] in the L.A. Times in which he questions the utility of Google’s planned digitization of hundreds of throusands of books.
But reading his Library Journal column, it sounds as if a blogger killed his brother.
First, he persists throughout the column in making fun of the word “blog”. Yes, it’s a silly word; Yes, it is an ugly word; Yes, it sounds like some creature from a “B” movie; No, most people don’t think it sounds strange anymore. Gorman succeeds only in seeming out-of-touch by making tired “Creature From The Blog Lagoon” jokes.
Second, and most unfairly, he lumps all bloggers together: they are all members of the great “unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar.” I take umbrage, and so, I suspect, would Jack Balkin, Cory Doctorow, Larry Lessig, and Richard Posner, among many others. Are some blogs poorly spelled, poorly punctuated, and poorly thought-out? Certainly. But adolescent rantings and personal journals don’t reflect the blogosphere at its most scholarly, nor should they. While blogging is not exclusively a scholarly pursuit, some scholars find it furthers their work.
The most striking thing about the column, though, is how unused to receiving unthinking criticism Gorman seems. As president of a large organization with a stake in many substantial national debates, I hope Mr. Gorman gets used to it soon. Perhaps the reaction to his L.A. Times piece served as a useful practice round.
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