Oh my…please tell me this is a joke.
Oh my…please tell me this is a joke.
Good job on the unconference. Just one fairly serious problem, at least to me. The Wiki has almost zero mention and absolutely no logos for LITA. The only LITA mention is in the text of the About BIGWIG wiki page.
I have lots of things that I’d like to say about this, but they all boil down to this: when, as an organization, we are more concerned with how we are portrayed than with results, I believe we’ve seriously lost our way.
I have also been thinking a great deal about the various fronts that have began mobilizing to make active change in the ALA. BIGWIG has obviously been working to move LITA in directions that we feel are important, but I admit that the bureaucracy of the whole endeavor takes some of the wind from my sails. If we ran our libraries the way we run our organizations, our patrons would be in real trouble.
Karen Schneider twittered the latest Michael Gorman insanity, written on (no surprise here) the Britannica Blog. Long time readers of this blog might remember that I’ve publicly disagreed with Gorman on a number of things, and this latest rant isn’t any different.
In Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason, Gorman rambles over the landscape of authority, truth, and web 2.0 like a lost puppy, not quite sure where he’s supposed to be going, but sure he has a destination. And that destination is TRUTH. I believe that he has no idea what he is talking about re: Web 2.0, and that his article clearly illustrates the significance of his misunderstanding.
Let’s begin with some examinations of his quotes, shall we? The opening paragraph is a doozy:
The life of the mind in the age of Web 2.0 suffers, in many ways, from an increase in credulity and an associated flight from expertise. Bloggers are called â€œcitizen journalistsâ€; alternatives to Western medicine are increasingly popular, though we can thank our stars there is no discernable â€œcitizen surgeonâ€ movement; millions of Americans are believers in Biblical inerrancyâ€”the belief that every word in the Bible is both true and the literal word of God, something that, among other things, pits faith against carbon dating; and, scientific truths on such matters as medical research, accepted by all mainstream scientists, are rejected by substantial numbers of citizens and many in politics.
I suppose we’d be better off, Michael, if journalists were required to get a governmental approval pass before they could write? The US has a long history of “citizen journalism”…if Thomas Paine were alive today, he’d have a blog.
And to equate the social movement inherent in Web 2.0 with creationism and alternative medicine is not only a category mistake of the largest sort, it is also just insane. It isn’t that there is a “flight from expertise”, Mike…it’s that we are re-defining “expert”. You sound like the Catholic loyalists railing against the Protestant movement…only the priests are allowed to talk to God! Bibles will only be printed in Latin!
The fact that information changes forms or source has no effect on its Truth. Truth judgments arise because the information itself is reflective of the world at large, testable and reproducible in the case of claims about the world (scientific claims) and verifiable in the case of claims about information itself. The goddamn source of the information has absolutely no bearing on the truth of it. None. Zero. Nada. Ziltch.
Ah, but Mike has a bit about that:
Print does not necessarily bestow authenticity, and an increasing number of digital resources do not, by themselves, reflect an increase in expertise. The task before us is to extend into the digital world the virtues of authenticity, expertise, and scholarly apparatus that have evolved over the 500 years of print, virtues often absent in the manuscript age that preceded print.
The reason that the “scholarly apparatus” evolved isn’t because of some desire to desperately produce only the best knowledge…it evolved because of economic pressures. In print, not everything can exist. Print costs money, and in the world of the academic the things we put our financial faith in, mostly, are things that pass the “scholarly test” of peer review. We have to have some limiting process because there is only so much money, NOT because the process itself is holy.
In the digital world, money is often the least of the concerns of information production. That simply means that we have to critically examine each piece of information as it lies with the web of knowledge, and draw coherence lines between the pieces. But we don’t want to get bogged down in the old way of doing things just because it worked in print. Digital is different, and demands different processes and analysis.
The structures of scholarship and learning are based on respect for individuality and the authentic expression of individual personalities. The person who creates knowledge or literature matters as much as the knowledge or the literature itself. The manner in which that individual expresses knowledge matters too.
Ummm…no? After holding up the Scientific Method so often in his article, you’d think he’d understand it a bit more. The point of the scientific method is to eliminate the person and make it about the knowledge, writ pure. The person does not matter, can not matter when it comes to the expression of the knowledge…keep in mind, we aren’t talking about the native intelligence necessary to invent or have insight. We’re talking about the information itself.
This is a rambling, nearly incoherent piece of writing when you try to connect logical lines between his arguments. He moves from comparing Web 2.0 to Creationism, to how his research on Goya done via print is the best way to do it, to comparisons between Web 2.0 and Maoism, to finally accusations of antihumanism.
I can’t decide if the whole article is best described as a Straw Man, Questionable Cause, or if it’s just one enormous fallacy of Appeal to Authority (yes, Virginia, that is a faulty method of thinking).
And let’s not ignore the final indignity: this is an essay decrying Web 2.0 posted on a blog, with multiple RSS feeds, and a Share This section for adding it to del.icio.us, Furl, Reddit, and Digg.
This would be the Super Secret Project #2 that I’ve been alluding to for a few weeks now. Full press release and information available on LITABlog, and much, much more to come on the official Showcase site.
Why do this? Well, the guiding hands of BIGWIG (Michelle Boule, Karen Coombs, and myself) had grown increasingly frustrated at the formal requirements for “official” ALA presentation, especially as they relate to technology. A paper-based, formally structured, face-to-face conference is just not the right answer for the majority of librarians anymore. I have taken part in multiple virtual conferences (HigherEdBlogcon and Five Weeks to a Social Library), and I prefer them for actual content to the sorts of things that ALA puts on. That isn’t to say that F2F isn’t valuable…its just a different measure of value. Witness that we included F2F as something that enhances the content of the presentations, but I would argue no more than having open communication channels virtually. It’s all about conversation…that’s the heart of the social web.
Combine the above with the ridiculous timeline needed for presentation topics…12-18 months out for a technology presentation? I can list at least 4 things that have happened in the last month that would be interesting. Trying to predict what might be interesting in technology in 12 months is a losing game, and it does nothing to actually serve either librarians or our patrons. We gave our presenters a deadline of a week before the conference to give us their content….a week. It is possible to be timely and flexible with this stuff, if its done well.
Join us in the experiment! Follow the conversations on the wiki, join us at ALA to meet what we think are the cream of the crop of current library technology people. We’ve got movers & shakers, we’ve got OCLC award winners, we’ve got radical metadata pirates and the guy who made LibraryThing. Why wouldn’t you want to come along for the ride?
I call upon the wisdom of the Intertubes: Help me decide on a smartphone. Our cell contract runs out this month, and I need to get a Smartphone of some type.
Here are the contenders:
I like the form factor of the Blackjack, but both it and the Treo lack 802.11 support, and I’d like to be able to browse/IM/Email via wifi if I’m somewhere with a signal. Hell, I’d love to be able to Skype with it if possible. The 8125 has wifi, but is the largest of the bunch…on the other hand, the slide out keyboard is pretty great. As much as I lust after the iPhone, Apple is not known for flawless first-gen products, and the $$ is a bit to drop in the foreseeable future. I like the Treo because I’ve always had a soft spot for Palm, and the secondary software support is huge, but Palm is, frankly, dead.
So I’m torn, Intertubes. Anyone use any of these phones? Got a recommendation for me for something I haven’t looked at?
A new “search engine” went live this week calling itself Mahalo. How does it distinguish itself from the big guns of search (Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN)?
Mahalo is the world’s first human-powered search engine powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides. Our Guides spend their days searching, filtering out spam, and hand-crafting the best search results possible. If they haven’t yet built a search result, you can request that search result. You can also suggest links for any of our search results.
Yep, they are human-indexing the web! Disregarding the “first human-powered search engine” bit, since they aren’t a search engine (they appear to be an index, with a search on top) and they clearly aren’t the first in any case (Yahoo started out exactly the same way, and the Librarian’s Internet Index is the same thing done by information professionals).
I wonder what Weinberger might think of their attempt?
In their FAQ, they handily tell you they selection criteria. Here’s the couple that stood out to me:
Sites they will not link to:
… sites of unknown origin (i.e. we cannot establish who operates the site).
… sites which have adult content or hate speech.
Establishment of “who operates” the site on the Internet? Really? Does a nom de plume count? How about a site whose authors must remain anonymous for political reasons? And that’s setting aside the longstanding legal precedent that anonymity in speech is a necessary for free speech. (see: McIntyre v. Ohio or Talley v. California)
Restricting Adult Content and Hate Speech makes it sound like those are two very clear categories. I’m always wary of groups who feel like they should be the ones making content decisions…one of the reasons I’m so happy to be a librarian.
They will link to:
… sites that are considered authorities in their field (i.e. Edmunds for autos, Engadget for consumer electronics, and the New York Times for news).
I swear on a stack of pancakes, I will get off my ass this year and write that article that’s been rattling around in my head about how Authority as a criteria for ANYTHING is old and busted.
Google Offline access! Google Gears is a beta that allows for offline access to Reader (your feeds, no internet access needed) and is going to support Gmail very soon.
Not always needed, but invaluable during those long flights.
If anyone hasn’t heard about the Swarm of Angels project, they just started their movie poster contest, and it’s a great time to read up on the project and get your fingers into some Open Source movie making.
NB: I’m a Angel…joined 5 May 06, and if the “user count” on the URL is correct, I was Angel #29. Crazy!