[This post was followed up here on March 7, 2005]
I’m not usually one for “me too” posts [see also librarian.net, Library Stuff and the Free Range Librarian on this], but ALA President-Elect Michael Gorman’s rant about bloggers is too provocative for me to hold back. The first thing is that his criticism is very hypocritical. He says this about bloggers, “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.”
He admits early on, “Until recently, I had not spent much time thinking about blogs or Blog People” but then after being criticized by some bloggers, “[he] rapidly learned more about the blog subcultures.”
Well, he obviously didn’t do enough research if he thinks blogs are all alike. He has no idea that that some blogs are scholarly and well-researched (certainly more so than his statements). It’s true many aren’t, and they don’t intend to be. He is also ignorant of the diversity of librarian bloggers – we have different political opinions, different views about the future of the profession and other topics. We will even disagree about him – whether he is a totally clueless embarrassment to librarians or whether he might have a point and that us bloggers shouldn’t be so thin-skinned.
My opinion obviously can’t be taken seriously because it hasn’t gone through the “publishing/editing process” which is Michael Gorman’s touchstone about whether something is worth reading or not. I’m also an Australian and I’m not a member of ALA (although I am a member of ALIA). That said, I am firmly in the “he is clueless” camp.
Yes, he has a right to his opinions about blogs. I just wished he had expressed them last year when people were voting on his suitability to be President Elect of the ALA.
He says that his “views on "blogs" have nothing to do with [his] activities as ALA president-elect or president.” This shows how he really doesn’t get it. He thinks blogs are crap (not his words, just my concise summary of his position), but tells us that this won’t influence his actions as ALA President. But the ALA as an organization should be making better use of feeds and related technologies, and should use any means to improve its relationship with its membership (and potential members). Blogs have a networking and activism potential which could be very helpful to the ALA if they harnessed it effectively. That will never happen under Michael Gorman because he thinks blogs are crap because they haven’t gone through the infallible publishing/editing process.
This is not the first time that Michael Gorman has suffered from foot in mouth disease during this month. I was appalled to read how he thinks fair use shouldn’t apply to a blogger who reproduced portions of the Tulsa World newspaper for purposes of criticism. The Tulsa World is even complaining about this blogger linking to their site. Does Michael Gorman also agree with this? Does he even know how links work and the function that they serve?