"Blogging" and "Google" fads, says president of American Library Association
It is beyond premature to prepare to mourn the death of libraries and the death of the book. If I had shares in publishing companies I would hang on to them. This latest version of Google hype will no doubt join taking personal commuter helicopters to work and carrying the Library of Congress in a briefcase on microfilm as "back to the future" failures, for the simple reason that they were solutions in search of a problem.
He's the president of the American Library Association
Remember that guy who dismissed the Beatles because "guitar music is on its way out"?
Nobody said anything about closing down libraries, you twat. Google is just a different kind of library, working on different principles. It's not competition, because hypertext is not an antithesis to print, it's a complementary set, which will eventually combine to be greater than the sum of its parts. Google is good news to libraries, because libraries will, for most of foreseeable time, on some level form the raw material for the collation of data done by people using hypertextual technologies.
But Google's not all he's got a grudge against, check out his grudge against bloggers:
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.
Bloggers don't read complex texts. Damnit, you got me. That's how I got that bachelor's degree in comparative literature.
More to the point, that's also why such many good writers are also bloggers. And it's also why so many of your union members are bloggers as well.
It's much too easy to generalise and think that just because the blogs you've read are fourteen year old girls writing about how little homework they're doing right now, or goths writing poetry containing the words "dark", "infinite", "rain" and "mist," that that's what they're all like. In that vein, anyone visiting his local kiosk will think that literature is romance and mystery novels, or that anyone listening to the radio will think that all music is R'n'B. Getting rid of silly thinking like this is what reading books is all about.
Okay, so I'm taking a cheap shot here, but you have to be amazed that a president of the library association can say something this ridiculous about the very people - viz, the readers and writers of the world (which is what bloggers are) - in public.
I guess this highlights a general problem with people who are thinking traditionally about literature, both in terms of content and physical manifestation. They are ignoring the fact that an entirely new branch of writing, and hence also of litterature, is manifesting itself right under their noses, and they're dismissing it as a popcultural phenomenon, or a fad. They're not the first ones to do so, though:
Remember Socrates, saying writing will lead to us not remembering things anymore in Phaedrus?
Remember John Henry Cardinal Newman criticising the printing press in Idea of a University.
Remember Thomas Carlyle criticising the University as a mass institutions and educational systems as such in "Sign of the Times?"
We're laughing at them now*. And it's because we read complex texts like good books, and good blogs and the world itself that we can laugh at Michael Gorman too, without having to wait 200 years.
* And if we're not laughing at Socrates, it's because he said other smart things.