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Shut Yer Piehole, Gorman

Update: I was too hard on the WSJ reporters. Read my explanation. I won’t change this post, but I shouldn’t let my contempt for Gorman obscure my sense of fairness.

It’s All Good reports that Michael Gorman again went after Google (in re the project now called Google Book Search) in an article in the Wall Street Journal (11/1/05), asserting once more, “The point of a scholarly text is they are written to be read sequentially from beginning to end, making an argument and engaging you in dialogue.”

Have you noticed how none of us have said anything? It’s not that we have drunk the KoolAid and now agree with Gorman. It’s that we’re so over him. I just don’t hear Gorman any more.

Gorman has labored strenuously for nearly a year to alienate most of his constituents, including many people (not me!) who supported him for his one-year post as ALA president. Like George Bush, he has wasted precious capital on completely the wrong things. Gorman has used his time in office to take ill-considered, rambling, fundamentally wrong-headed pot shots at librarian bloggers, Google, and technology in general. He not only hasn’t toned down in the face of criticism; with the WSJ comments, it’s clear he thinks he’s quite clever by half. I only hope that if some other “MSM” outlet covers Gorman, it has the wherewithal to ask how well he truly represents librarianship.

The sad part is there is much to be said about Google, yet it’s happening elsewhere, away from the Wall Street Journal. The good discussions, the really acute, witty, thought-provoking critiques, take place on Web4Lib, among the likes of Rich Wiggins and Roy Tennant. Meanwhile, thanks to Gorman’s spittle-flecked ravings, the rest of the world can think of us as simple-minded throwbacks. All the “@ Your Library” money in the world can’t compensate for that kind of enduring bad press.

I’d like to think Leslie Burger will be different. She doesn’t have to do a fresh install of Red Hat to impress me; it’s also o.k. if she doesn’t read blogs. But following the humiliating regime of Michael Gorman, it would be nice to have an ALA president who made us look just a tiny bit better in the eyes of the world, and who encouraged us to harness technology at the beck and call of the services we provide. Leslie, soon it will be your time. We count on you.

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