Gorman
Coined the term “blog people”

Written Inc.: Quote from an unhappy librarian

“[The] Blog People (or their subclass who are interested in computers and the glorification of information) have a fanatical belief in the transforming power of digitization and a consequent horror of, and contempt for, heretics who do not share that belief … 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.'” — M. Gorman

I have no idea where Cami Levy got this quote, but it’s apparently from library spokesman Michael Gorman (pictured above). Of course the bloggers immediately get outraged. What he is saying is quite true. You hear about “people’s journalism,” “print is dead,” old media, new media, blah, blah, blah. It’s an attack on print just for the sake of an attack. And note that he’s not saying all blogs are crap. He’s saying they are taking themselves a little too seriously with all the changing the world nonsense. He also takes a couple of cheap shots which does his position no good at all.

But let’s discuss changing the world. The way I see it radio was going to change the world. Movies were going to change the world. TV was going to change the world. Computers were going to change the world. And, uh, hmm — they did! But compare the promises to the results. The corporations are bigger. The public is dumber. McDonalds and Coca-Cola are everywhere. Public and corporate corruption is rampant. Like all new technological developments blogs will accelerate these trends, no matter what the bloggers think.

You can see it developing as the most read blogs fall into one of two political categories (conservative or liberal) both essentially serving big government as cheerleaders for one of two narrowly defined knee-jerk positions on everything public. How is this helping anything?

That said there is indeed a third category of blog which is purely informational such as the definitive WifFi Networking News. These tend to be specialty blogs that more resemble a magazine. And when the blog aficionados go on and on about changing the world this blog is never mentioned since it’s not political.

Anyway, you can expect more debate on this topic over the next few years. Ack!



  1. Robotwisdom says:

    Relevant trivia: the guy who coined the word ‘weblog’ is an expert on James Joyce, specializing in the most “complex text” ever written– Finnegans Wake.

  2. Carmi Levy says:

    Hi John. Thanks for advancing this most timely discussion. I agree with you: the debate is apparently just beginning. Such fun!

    Mr. Gorman originally published his thoughts in his opinion piece, Revenge of the Blog People!

    It appeared Feb. 15, 2005 on LibraryJournal.com.

    http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA502009?display=BackTalkNews&industry=BackTalk&industryid=3767&verticalid=151&&

    Cheers!

    Carmi Levy
    http://writteninc.blogspot.com

  3. Jim says:

    Maybe we should just have book bans and filter what people are allowed to read and write or think so this guy is happy. Take care of yourself.

  4. Jim says:

    I am a happy warrior.

  5. Jim says:

    Some people are going to get blown to bits. Whats the problem?
    Blogs will improve print journalism. If a writer tries bullshitting everyone, the bullshit will hit a bigger fan. What’s to be unhappy about? It’s not as if you can’t just tune blogs out. I have posts tuned out all of the time. I don’t even know who of if anybody reads my blogs. This is how I keep track of certain information. Sure I try to keep it interesting. Don’t look at my blog, do what you want. It’s a free country. I read about a half a dozen blogs each week. Once this becomes corporate and corrupt, we’ll be off doing something else. My blogs are real. Take all the PCs out of the libraries and put in more shelves and books for book people. I’m a book person. Books are good. If you are getting bent out of shape over blogging, go read a book. Go buy a goldfish. It used to be that when somebody couldn’t figure it out, they’d go to church or start a revolution or do something. What is the salvation today? Shopping. The Mall People.

  6. I appreciate how you’ve recognized that, in general, politics is really are the root cause of most problems today. If we exclude the problems we suffer from due to accidents, sickness & death, it seems that all the rest are inflicted on ourselves, by ourselves.
    I’ve noticed that many of your commentaries have discerned how foolish those in positions of responsiblity can be. Personally, I’ve wondered how much difference it would have made if IBM had aggressively defended itself & its OS from Microsoft & its pernicious propaganda campaign, which resulted in the present situation.

  7. This was on slashdot 2 days ago. It was all said by the ALA President.

  8. A. Wohlford says:

    John: Your observation of the most read blogs serving big government is right on the mark. It seems that too many people are seeking out similiar voices on issues and not thinking critically about how we can all move forward.

    Constructive dialogue leading to a concensus of opinion is not happening in Washington. Its all about the game and not about the people. All the noise masks the issues. In the end, the status quo remains.

  9. Constant Reader says:

    >Re: Gorman on blogs
    >
    >Now it is is just satire…
    >http://lp-web.ala.org:8000/guest/archives/ALACOUN/log0502/msg00188.html
    >
    >
    > * To: ALA Council List
    > * Subject: [ALACOUN:14105] “Blogs”
    > * From: Michael Gorman
    > * Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 17:46:14 -0800
    > * Priority: normal
    > * Reply-To: [15]michaelg@csufresno.edu
    > * Sender: [16]owner-alacoun@ala1.ala.org
    >
    > Dear Colleagues
    >
    > I am sorry that Councillors Hartman and Schneider feel like that.
    >The piece (LJ, February 15th 2005) was intended to be satirical,
    >though I
    > am certainly no fan of “blogs,” having an old fashioned belief that,
    > if one wishes to air one’s views and be taken seriously, one should
    >go
    > through the publishing/editing process. I am surprised that people
    > who attack an article as mine (LAtimes, Dec. 17th 2004) has been
    > attacked should be as thin-skinned as some appear to be.
    >
    > Rest assure that my views on “blogs” have nothing to do with my
    > activities as ALA president-elect or president. I merely air my
    >views
    > and believe that everyone (including me) has a right to speak in any
    > way they wish and that others have a right to respond.
    >
    > Best wishes, Michael
    > _________________________________________________
    > Michael Gorman
    > President-elect, American Library Association
    > Madden Library, CSU, Fresno
    > (559) 278-2403
    >

  10. Janet says:

    I think what blogs are, and what they will end up being, is a constantly evolving process. I do believe though, that blogging can be a powerful tool, but it’s a tool that is not used as such by many people, at least not currently.

    In other words, I don’t think we fully can comprehend how blogging can change the world, although in a way it already has. From day to day and blog to blog however, this isn’t that evident because for the most part, you still have to sift through a lot of “haystacks” before you find one or two worthy “needles”.

  11. Jim says:

    I found this a bit amusing.
    “I appreciate how you’ve recognized that, in general, politics is really are the root cause of most problems today.”
    Lets go back to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, April 27, 1961.

    “I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.” John F. Kennedy

    Back to now. The goal of politics is not to make errors, but to point them out and take corrective action so mistakes can be avoided and not repeated. If the government was perfect, it wouldn’t be human. You might have a million different opinions on a policy issue, perhaps twenty million, maybe more. I would say that blogs are more likely to empower better policy, than ignoring the public is or pulling this propaganda crap we have seen out of Washington. You can pay somebody to push No Child Left Behind or cheerlead for marriage from behind the scenes in the back rooms of Washington. It might not work very well. I’m all for No Blogger Left Behind. Of course, blogs have several disadvantages as well as advantages. Ignorance at all levels is the root cause of most problems today. “Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive.” Keep up the criticism and let people debate the merits of blogs. I’m not a debater, I’m a blogger. Perhaps this librarian is a deblogger. I hope it works out, I’m sure it will. Blogging appears to be more honest than voting, depending of course on the part of the map you are from and the blogger. Dvorak does a hell of a blog. There is more bullshit here than there is in all of his columns ever printed. Blogs are famous for bullshit, but without bullshit politics would be a real bore. Let’s all debate bullshit and try to put each other to sleep. I’ll sing you an Irish lullaby. Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral. Hush now don’t you cry!

    I’ll have to blog this for later. Politics is really not a big problem.

  12. N says:

    Well, blogs change the world – sort of.

    Certainly it is awfully cool when a group of bloggers break a story and CNN finds itself quoting random , uncredentialed citizens who did the job CNN should have done in the first place. I think this is evidnce that things have shifted slightly. The media was supposed to watch the politicians, but who was watching the media? Now the bloggers are.

    And informational blogs such as this one are interesting although not particularly life changing. It is a convenient way to get caught up on a lot of interesting stories, however. Seems like a decent use of electrons.

    And then you have missed what perhaps is the largest category of blogs – journals. Now at first glance I can see why you don’t think these are important – who cares that Cheryl dumped Tod in Indianna and now Tod can’t eat? Well, Tod and Cheryl might care, but very few others.

    However, I think the value of truely understanding another person’s life does exist. In my case I detail my life, as a bipolar woman. This is not something people would typically trip over in their lives, and if they did, it would be a passing thought that bipolars are crazy. We are not. But you would normally not have any way of seeing inside my head, but now you do.

    There is value in seeing what a cancer patient goes through, or what it’s like to live in a war-torn country. Are there books that cover this material? Sure, but they are not real time, you cannot search them and the body of work I can present on my blog is far more in-depth and diverse then you would find in an edited, published work.

    Finally, these type of blogs are valuable for people looking for help. Someone who has just discovered that they have bipolar, or they have cancer feels scared and alone. Finding honest accounts of othere people’s survival helps them to survive.

    What I’m saying here is that honest, well-written accounts of a lifetime allows us all to develop understanding of other’s lives. Compassion for others is very important in the world. This changes our consciousness, and that changes the world.

  13. Jim says:

    This is like Ground Hogs Day. Check with Bill Murray for more on this. That’s the funny part. Everybody makes mistakes. Fools hate criticism. I welcome it!

  14. site admin says:

    You are correct. I’m not a big fan of journals although it is likely that MOST blogs are journals. I do mention them in my Blog primer though and do not dissuade people from doing them. I just perosnally find them tedius although once in a while I will get caught up in one. I’m sure one written by someone relating the experiences of being bipolar is more interesting than the average “cat” journal. And I know that the few sincere celebrity blogs are attention-getters.

  15. Jim says:

    Yea N, my computer is still unconscious. The more things change, the more they stay the same. You can find the truth without a computer. Johns blog here is informative, but the blog doesn’t make the man. The man makes the blog. Blogging is hyped and overrated. I’ve read some stuff in blogs that is worth spooling to a printer and I’ve read some stuff in print that isn’t worthy of the ink and paper. If I had one bullet left and had to choose between shooting my PC or TV, the TV would be a goner. People accept the trash news on TV as the gospel of wealth. The bubble headed bleach blonde comes on at nine and she can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. TV news is a joke sponsored by a big retailer or some corporate boiler room operation. Most of these people aren’t storytellers, they are facades with made up faces reading some corporate version of truth or consequences. TV is the alternate reality. Now we have reality TV and fake news. CBS is investigating all of this. Then you have FOX news which a larger audience of morons pays for, because the truth isn’t free. So what the hell, why not beat the hell out of bloggers from the security of a nice warm library. When somebody is killed, they are dead for the rest of their life. Cold on ice, match on fire and a dead mans touch. Push on shove. They don’t come back sometimes, we just help them get along.

  16. Thomas says:

    I suppose I’m not entirely sure I understand this guy’s beef with blogs. If he is claiming that blogs will never replace investigative reporting, I’d agree. They are really complementary to investigative reporting.

    On the other hand, if his real beef is with electronic media in general, then he’s plain ignorant. The day will come when reading material on paper will be considered by most people to be archaic. It might be ten, twenty, fifty or a hundred years from now, but the day will come. It is already the case that I and many of my friends read their newspapers online as well as many of my tech manuals and materials.

  17. Joel says:

    Well, as little as I care about or use “blogging” I can stress a couple of important differences between blogs and other media vessels like “radio, movies, and TV”.

    Blogs are readily accessible by everyone, and for the most part are uncensored.

    This means the public has a voice. It also means, unfortunately, that they will probably use it.

  18. david says:

    TRUST. Without it, there is no reliable relationship–either between wife/husband, business/consumer, government/citizens, or media/masses. Don’t we see how everything is breaking down in every category? Why? TRUST. I think people are moving to blogs because there is more credibility. I would rather believe an American soldier writing about his experience in Iraq via a blog than the evening news showing President Bush ensuring the public that everything is hunky dory by showing up in Baghdad as the Thanksgiving turkey. Sure, most soldiers cannot write like James Joyce, but their message is the important thing, not whether they write artistically or not. The American Dream has become the Global Nightmare and the number one reason why trust is breaking down here. America is doomed for the scrap yard, unless our leaders start becoming honest and virtuous instead of just preaching about it.

  19. Jim says:

    The American Dream was invented in Hollywood. That’s all bullshit. They turn the country into dreamland and people need to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s like designing women or designer drugs and designer politics. The whole country is turning into a nervous wreck because the American Dream is fading. I have my own dream. What did you get in this everybody’s shared dream? Two cars, a gasoline credit card that’s now maxxed out, a crappy subdivision lot in suburbia, a job with some soon to go bust corporation and a 30 year debt note on a house that was built to last for 25 years because the building inspector was on the take. Then you wake up and they are building another mall and you have run off problems and the whole area downstream is now flooded. You have landslides, old closed down plants, a busted out downtown, meth labs all over the place and little kids being pimped by some junkie of an excuse for a father or mother. And the government or some professor is worried about frickin blogs, Paris Hiltons cell phone or some kid writing zombie stories in Kentucky.


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