Twopointopians

Last week the Annoyed Librarian started a somewhat interesting conversation with the wonderfully caustic post “The Cult of Twopointopia“. I won’t respond fully to the post (plenty of people have weighed in, both in the comments and on their own blogs…see Meredith, KGS, and David Lee King for more). I did want to comment briefly on the AL’s followup post, “An Alternative Voice in Librarianship“. In it, the AL says (heavily edited for length, read the original if you think I’m missing anything important here):

…I can’t just ignore things when I’m bombarded with them in the premier publication of the American Library Association, now can I? That seems to be the twopointopian strategy. Never say anything critical. Don’t engage the opposition, because the opposition just isn’t on the “cluetrain,” so we can ignore them. Don’t analyze, just proselytize. Sorry, baby, it doesn’t work for me. I like evidence and argument, not mantras and affirmations.

They publish stupid “manifestos.” They ignore criticism and never seriously engage with any opposition, because they think they can ignore the opposition. The opposition is too timid and well mannered to take on the regressive thugs. The opposition (sometimes) is too poorly informed to take the twopointopians on on their own ground.

I find this to be a bit disingenuous, especially after reading things like:

the twopointopians “get it,” while the rest of us just don’t understand. They’re like religious converts preaching the gospel of 2.0 to everyone, and they just can’t understand either that nobody cares, or that everyone already knows about it.

For the diehard twopointopians, their way is the way. They don’t like criticism or discussion, because they’re not up to it. They like captive audiences of neophytes who they can impress with their speeches about all this great new stuff. They like to use the mystique of social software and new technologies to impress upon their crusty colleagues how hip they are. They like to pretend that people who aren’t impressed with how righteous and “user-centered” they all are are just ignorant clowns who don’t know anything about how libraries ought to be run.

That’s a long way around to get to my own thoughts, but here goes: The AL rants about wanting the “twopointopians” to produce “evidence and argument” for Library 2.0. I’m not a fan of the phrase “Library 2.0″, but as shorthand for “the use of web-based tools with a social bent for informational exchange, rating, searching, and creation” I think it works. Even if I don’t like the nom de guerre of the concept, I certainly count myself as one of the “twopointopians”. At least, as I think the word is being used. I will happily count myself in the company of David Lee King, KGS, Jessamyn, Meredith and others.

What I want to know is: Where is the evidence and argument from AL? Given the above quotes from AL, it appears that we are all religious zealots. I can’t say that AL reads anything like a well-reasoned and cogent argument for…well…anything. It looks like a lot of hyperbole and name calling to me. What exactly is the argument for “Not-library-2.0″?

Here’s my argument FOR Library 2.0: Alexa’s Top Websites for the US. Out of the top 10 most visited sites on the ‘net, 8 of them have some type of social facet. What’s your argument for Not-Library-2.0…whatever that might look like?

6 thoughts on “Twopointopians

  1. I think most administrators are asking where are the stats and where is the need. The typical reply is the “slow library movement” which means providing these types of technologies where they are actually needed instead of just throwing stuff up there that doesn’t get used.

  2. I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that every library, everywhere, needs everything 2.0. Not every library needs a wiki, in the same way that not every library needs a Serials Librarian…it depends on need. But it _always_ depends on need…that doesn’t seem much of an argument to me.

    If AL and others are really saying that the twopointopians are claiming everyone needs everything _right now_, that seems just a Straw Man.

  3. You’ll also notice that the Annoyed Librarian doesn’t work in a library, often claims to not say what they really think in the interest of stirring up controversy, and doesn’t have much of a nice word to say about anyone. The 2.0-ians, by contrast are employed in libraries, are very public about the things they do in libraries and what works and doesn’t work. They also try, most of the time, to value some sort of harmony (not just with each other, but with EVERYONE) and something you need to do to work with the public and other people.

    I may be conflict-averse more than most people, but I find this sort of nastiness not a really good path to actually getting things done, changing hearts and minds or learning anything. If I have a limited amount of time in my life to get things done, I’m not going to work on a point by point rebuttal of someone who doesn’t even necessarily believe what they’re saying.

    One take away though is that we’re not measuring impacts of a lot of these 2.0 technologies and I think if we’re going to move to the next level we have to start measuring the same way we count people who come in the door, or email reference questions. This means more change in the higher level organizations who collect and analyze this date. So, let’s go.

  4. I don't think that anyone is suggesting that every library, everywhere, needs everything 2.0. Not every library needs a wiki, in the same way that not every library needs a Serials Librarian…it depends on need. But it _always_ depends on need…that doesn't seem much of an argument to me. If AL and others are really saying that the twopointopians are claiming everyone needs everything _right now_, that seems just a Straw Man.

Comments are closed.