Why do people like Michael Gorman and Blaise Cronin (and note that I will not link to any of their articles, but you can find critiques at Free Range Librarian and Pattern Recognition) write these controversial rants about blogs and bloggers? Is it because they want to change people’s minds and make them stop blogging (or stop reading blogs)? I don’t think so. It’s all designed to stir up contoversy and get attention. I’m sure they can’t wait to see the bloggers get their knickers in a twist and become filled with righteous indignation. So when we try to respond to the rantings of (let’s face it) a closed-minded demagogue, we’re basically giving that person what he or she wants. Gorman was never so famous as when he wrote his Library Journal article, and we (me included) were at fault for bringing so much publicity to the fact that our soon-to-be president is a closed-minded Luddite (and thus perpetrating the negative “librarian” stereotype). In spite of the fact that he is a prolific author, I will bet that the majority of librarians did not know who Blaise Cronin was before yesterday’s brouhaha.
So what is the purpose of writing about these gadflies? We certainly won’t change anyone’s mind. For people who think blogs are drivel, they will read Cronin’s opinion piece and nod their heads. For people who rightly realize that there are plenty of high-quality blogs that offer intelligent commentary and dialogue, they will shrug the piece off as yet another polemic by another person who’s been in the ivory tower too long. If he was actually more a part of the wired world, we’d probably call Cronin a “flamer”.
And we should do with him what we would do with any flamer: ignore him.