[23/5/05 update: this post has been partially followed-up here]
- Why do I care, as an Australian, what what the President Elect of the American Library Association says about blogs? The fall-out from Michael Gorman’s ill-advised remarks aren’t limited to the US. After being slashdotted and appearing on number 11 on the Daypop top 40, this story has taken on a life of its own and has generated negative words about librarians all around the world. I don’t care if Michael Gorman doesn’t like blogs or the Blog People, but I do care when the President Elect of the most prominent library professional association in the world says such things. It doesn’t matter if he said he was joking or that he wasn’t wearing his President’s hat at the time, it still makes us all look bad.
- I agree with Michael Gorman on at least one thing: that “blog” is a really stupid name for what we do. I think that it’s a testimony to the strength of blogs that they managed to do so well despite being saddled with such a dumb name. On the other hand, that’s what it is right now. We’ve passed the point we could easily change it to something better. I could argue that “serial” was a bad choice of a name too (don’t even get me started on OPAC), but libraries are kind of stuck with it. At some point, you need to accept that things are called what they’re called, and you look start to look stupid if you dismiss a whole phenomenon because it has a silly name. It’s like judging a book by its cover, something I’m sure Michael Gorman would never approve of.
- Since writing my previous post, I have learned that Michael Gorman’s technological conservatism was no secret, especially to those who move in ALA circles. If any good comes of this, I hope that this will never happen again – that somebody who despises blogs and bloggers slips in under the radar. It’s fine for someone holding these opinions to be elected in his position, but this choice ought be a deliberate and informed choice by the voters.
- The US (and Australia) is so deeply polarized these days over politics that it is refreshing to be reminded that politics isn’t the only division in society. Also disturbing too – that at least on this issue, I found that I had something in common with Michael Gorman’s right-wing critics. I am not such a political fundamentalist that I could forgive his anti-blogger comments because issues of technology aside, his heart is in the right place and he’s a lefty. Then I wondered, does this make me a blogging fundamentalist? (see this comment Steven Bell left in Library Stuff wondering if the reaction to Gorman might be a chilling effect) I hope not – I think that this is just a realization that I, like many others, have multiple loyalties and interests.
- Yes, this topic has been beaten to death and I hope that this is the last time that I’ll need to mention it. But I can’t promise anything because I suspect that this isn’t the last time that librarians are going to be embarrassed by Michael Gorman during his term, which hasn’t even started yet. I wonder if he feels that compared to him, us bloggers are like a multitude of irrelevant little ants swarming around because he has kicked open our nest.