Well, this is certainly interesting.
In sum: Michael Gorman, ALA president elect, jumped up and told us that blogs are dumb and bloggers are dumber. Blogosphere goes balistic, most nod their heads and say, yeah, we knew librarians were stodgy and on their way to extinction. Blogging librarians everywhere have a heartsore day. Next up: Blaise Cronin writes BLOG: see also Bathetically Ludicrous Online Gibberish. Most bloggers, recognizing a troll when they see one, ignore him. Some others respond, understandably miffed and personally affronted.
Blaise Cronin today, reacting to the blog backlash he stirred up:
In the long run, the net effect of such mean-spiritedness will be to chill public debate, deter people from blogging and depress free trade in ideas. Personally, I would much rather face another, even angrier fusillade of blogs than be cowed into silence. And I would expect no less of graduates, past and future, of this school. For now, though, I leave you with the cautionary words of Samuel Johnson: â€˜When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.â€™
I can’t believe he’s arguing that the response he got from being rude to a very, very large group of people is indicative of some kind of PC big chill. On one hand he wants his voice to never be silenced, but he disapproves of the tools that exist to make sure the voices of the rest of us have the same priviledge. On one hand we’re spilling out of control with our blogs and our endless nonsense; on the other hand, that massive growth is in danger because of our inability to sense anything valid in his petty little derivative screed. You can’t really have it both ways. Too much feedback isn’t likely to kill a genre, generally speaking. When you have a truly democratic space, things sometimes get ugly and loud.
Never have so many tongues wagged so waspishly and wittily in warp timeâ€¦Old rules and constraints have fallen awayâ€¦On the Net, every voice is equal.â€™
And this is his great lament, and a very telling part of his response. First, that he expects his voice to be more weighty than that of anyone else, and expects us to naturally believe that this is the proper order of things. Second, he believes that every voice is in fact equal on the internet. At this point it becomes painfully obvious that Blaise Cronin is yet another old school academic who has not come to terms with the socially vibrant and dynamic world that is the internet. Not every voice is equal here. But every voice gets a chance to be.
But his Samuel Johnson quotation stands. When he opted to troll the blogging community with his clearly insulting and offensive musings, the first shot of incivility was fired.
One wonders for whom these hapless souls blog. Why do they choose to expose their unremarkable opinions, sententious drivel and unedifying private lives to the potential gaze of total strangers? What prompts this particular kind of digital exhibitionism?
We’re wondering the same thing about you, Blaise. There was nothing classy about this op-ed. How could you possibly expect a classy response?