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Speaking Truth to Power: An Action Plan for Responding to Gorman

The LITA-L list has seen brisk traffic today regarding Michael Gorman’s continued statements about bloggers, Google, the distressing habit of not reading books from page A to Z, and his one-man campaign in support of the global eradication of snippet-reading.

I’d like to ignore Gorman, but he keeps popping up like a bad penny. The press love to interview him, and he rationalizes his comments by claiming he is merely expressing personal opinions, not (mis)representing the views of ALA–as if the Wall Street Journal cared what the director of CSU Fresno had to say.

The really amazing thing about blogging and the Web in general is no one can ever have the final say anymore, which is something that hasn’t quite sunk into Gorman’s mind. I encourage you to leverage the power of the Web to respond to Gorman’s statements to the mainstream press. Here are a few suggestions, based on actions I’ve taken when I see Gorman quoted in the press:

* Write the reporter(s) who wrote the article and explain that Gorman is not speaking for ALA or librarianship in general. Point the reporters toward the plethora of posts about Gorman, including the summaries on LISNews.

* Post a response to Gorman on your blog, and link to the newspaper article from your website. Then cc the reporters.

* Send a letter to the editor at the newspaper he is quoted in. Stay on message: Gorman doesn’t represent ALA; Gorman doesn’t represent librarianship.

I’m no apologist for Google. Sit by me at ALA, and I’ll fill your ear with my concerns about sole-sourcing digitization to a private company, or about my observations about fair use. But Gorman isn’t making intelligent arguments about Google, or anything else. He is portraying us very badly in the mainstream press, but remember this: he doesn’t get the last word–in fact, the story of the Web is there is never a last word, only a dialog that goes on forever.

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