Michael Gorman Is Not a Happy Camper

Michael Gorman is unhappy with blogs and bloggers. In his article on the Library Journal web site he calls blogs (and by inference bloggers) a “species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web”. This statement is, to some extent, true. As I reflect on my own blogging I am certainly unencumbered by an editor or any grammatical restrictions which I myself do not impose. But so what? Why does it matter to him that tens of thousands of people are able to express themselves without filters?

It matters to him for the same reasons that in Abbeys and Churches all over Europe there was great consternation about Gutenberg’s invention. Now anybody could be published. There need be no illumination and no scholarly/clerical selection of texts worthy of reproduction. And a publishing revolution similar to blogging did occur at the time. Tracts and pamphlets, books, scripture in the vernacular, indeed everything one could think of poured off of the presses and the Monks lost their control over the dissemination of knowledge.

Mr. Gorman is happy with his position as a gatekeeper for information and wishes to maintain that position. Unfiltered opinion is problematic for him because it offends his sense of rightness and upsets the world as he would choose to order it (with gatekeepers such as himself in control). But even worse, from his perspective, is digitized literature. When people are able to access information on demand, when he loses his gate-keeping function, who knows how people will interpret these works?

That was the real fear of the Clergy in Europe, not that people would publish pamphlets, but that they’d publish the Scripture. With so many copies floating around out of control, people could read for themselves what was written and decide what they thought it meant. Academicians and Librarians like Mr. Gorman don’t want you to read scholarly works, at least not unless you read them under their tutelage “the right way”. If you read them the way you want to, gosh knows what conclusions you’d draw.

The bottom line is that Mr. Gorman is an elitist who believes he, and people like him, need to filter content. Mr. Gorman is wrong, just as the medieval Monks were wrong and will wind up just as historically irrelevant.