Library Issues

File under “Gormanesque”

From LISNews originally, another person at the top of a librarian food chain who just doesn’t get it. To wit:

Lately, I’ve been wandering around Blogland, and I’m struck by the narcissism and banality of so many personal blogs, of which, if the statistics are to believed, there are millions. Here, private lives tumble into public view, with no respect for seemliness or established social norms. Here, as the philosopher Roger Scruton said of Reality TV, ‘[a]ll fig leaves, whether of language, thought or behavior, have now been removed.’ What desperate craving for attention is indicated by this kind of mundane, online journaling? Surely, one writes a diary for one’s personal satisfaction; journaling is, after all, a deeply private act.

No, Blaise…you might write a diary for your personal satisfaction. Journaling, for you is a deeply private act. Plus: “…no respect for seemliness..”? What sort of bizarro 1950’s world is this supposed to be? We create our own established social norms here on the ‘net. Virtual communities derive their own set of performance standards and codes, and it doesn’t matter how “public” or “private” the delineation of those communities may be. Bloggers who choose to reveal their personal lives online do not all do so out of some form of deep narcissism, nor from any exhibitionistic tendencies…except, of course, those that do. They do so for their own reasons.

One wonders for whom these hapless souls blog. Why do they chose to they 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? The present generation of bloggers seems to imagine that such crassly egotistical behavior is socially acceptable and that time-honored editorial and filtering functions have no place in cyberspace. Undoubtedly, these are the same individuals who believe that the free-for-all, communitarian approach of Wikipedia is the way forward. Librarians, of course, know better.

Wow…”sententious drivel”? And your comment about the Wikipedia is unbecoming of someone who once published a paper entitled Bowling alone together: Academic writing as distributed cognition. The Wikipedia is the ultimate form of distributed cognition. And this is one librarian who most assuredly knows nothing of the sort. Your “time-honored editorial and filtering functions” are going the way of the dodo thanks to the distribution of publication power, personal publication and archiving, folksonomic tagging/syndication/massive metadata collaboration, and other technological innovations. Those functions can be (and I would argue, will be) filled in other ways very, very soon.

Admittedly, some blogs are highly professional, reliable and informative, but most are not.

The same is true of, oh….every form of communication known to mankind.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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