"Blog People" give ALA president Gorman the smackdown
Apparently, some of the criticism that bloggers have leveled at Michael Gorman has gotten under his skin.
Gorman is the president-elect of the American Library Association. He wrote an op-ed piece for the LA Times on December 17, 2004 suggesting that Google's plans to digitize the collections of several large libraries (including the U of M's) was, among other things, an "expensive exercise in futility." Kevin Drum, in true blogger style, responded to this poorly-argued piece by calling Mr. Gorman "an embarrassment to [the librarians'] profession."
While Drum's comments might have been a bit hyperbolic at the time, they seem less so now. Gorman's response to his critics in the blogosphere suggests that he may in fact be an embarrassment to librarians everywhere:
It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. 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. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.To which the author, blogger, and friend of the ALA Neil Gaiman responds:
On the other hand, I feel the love diminishing a tad when I read an article by the president-elect of the ALA, and find myself unable to decide whether it's mostly that a) he's simply a very, very bad writer, or b) he lacks any skills of a diplomatic nature, or it's just c) he really believes that statements like "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" are somehow going to disabuse people who keep blogs, journals and such from believing or repeating the calumny that "Michael Gorman is an idiot" (someone apparently said this on a blog, he tells us, expecting us to feel an outrage on his behalf I somehow wasn't able to muster). (Surely, if you're upset that someone called you an idiot, the wisest course of action would be not to write an odd screed that will itself convince many people who haven't heard of you before reading it that this is in fact the case.)Whatever the Blog People's faults might be, they have some things to teach Michael Gorman about the values of a thick skin and the avoidance of overbroad generalizations.