One Aging Geek

Friday, March 04, 2005

Revenge of the Blog People!

Who are the Blog People?

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.

At least two of the blog excerpts sent to me (each written under pseudonyms) come from self-proclaimed "conservatives," which I find odd because many of the others come from people who call me a Luddite and are, presumably, technology-obsessed progressives. The Luddite label is because my mild remarks have been portrayed as those of someone worried about the job security of librarians (I am not) rather than one who has a different point of view on the usefulness of this latest expression of Google hubris and vast expenditure of money involved.

I'm no Antidigitalist

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. Perhaps that latter thought will reinforce the opinion of the Blog Person who included "Michael Gorman is an idiot" in his reasoned critique, because no opinion that comes from someone who is "antidigital" (in the words of another Blog Person) could possibly be correct. For the record, though I may have associated with Antidigitalists, I am not and have never been a member of the Antidigitalist party and would be willing to testify to that under oath. I doubt even that would save me from being burned at the virtual stake, or, at best, being placed in a virtual pillory to be pelted with blogs. Ugh!

My old buddy, Miles, pointed me to this via email and my email response is below. It seemed to cry out to be a blog post. Miles had a response by email, I'll leave it to him to post that to his blog if he feels the urge.

It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs.
Hm... substitute "sound bites" for "paragraphs" and you have "the average American television viewer".

There are a couple of grains of truth in what the guy says.

Grain number 1 is that there is a lot of useless crap out there.

It used to be that to be published you had to convince someone (a publisher and/or an editor) that your writing had merit and would be interesting or at least salable.

The Web changed that to a degree in that anyone with the willingness to create a website could "be published". So it lowered the bar. Which meant that the signal to noise ratiowent way down. Blogs have dropped that bar even further and the amount of useless crap has skyrocketed. Like, for instance, the drivel from the high school intern at my office that turned up in my Feedster search feed.

But comparing teenage diaries thrown out on the web to thoughtful writing by professionals just because both are on blogs is intellectual laziness.

Grain number 2 is intellectual laziness.

I think it's obvious that most Americans, at least, are intellectually lazy. They're content to take as absolute truth every sound bite thrown at them by whatever radio of TV station they prefer. I think this laziness is what has made the sound bite so pervasive in what passes for news coverage. People just don't want to take the time to a long analysis piece. I also think this laziness contributes to something that was reported a few months ago: an Amazon analysis showed that people tend to cluster strongly around books of a particular "leaning". People who buy books considered "conservative" seldom buy books that present the opposing view and vice versa. And the worst sound bite of all, imo, is "red state, blue state". That's a total fiction created by the electoral college process and grabbed up by the media. It's a purple country. The maps that go more granular than state level show that.

Grain number 3 is the blog "echo chamber".

This can happen with anything. People who grab onto it think it's the greatest thing. They're fans. There is a subset of "A-list" bloggers who talk incessantly about blogs.

So. Grains of truth that Gorman has latched on to.

But underlying it all the guy is being a luddite. It kind of fits with the general stereotype of a librarian. I think he doesn't want to believe that publishing on paper is becoming less important.

Somebody needs to give Gorman a clue. I'm not sure what form that would take. Perhaps Dan Gillmor's book, We the Media, would do it but that tends towards being a little "breathless" and falls rather into the "echo chamber" camp. Perhaps someone just needs to send him pointers to some decent blogs that aren'tabout blogging.

Hm... I should write this up on my blog. :)