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Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, February 25, 2005
  Library Journal - Revenge of the Blog People!
Note: This is a rant. Please skip if you want to avoid rants or say that because I'm expressing my opinion on my blog, blogs are an invalid source of information.

Ok. My fault, I should have paid attention to the candidates and actually voted for ALA President. I the last time I voted was for a local because I knew a little about her. How could such a smart group of people have elected Michael Gorman? Am I judging him unfairly? Maybe -- because I'm judging him only based on two things he wrote. The commentary linked above and the original article in the LA Times (both pointed out by MA).

First - his original point that one can only gain knowledge by reading entire, print books. Many, many, many scholarly works are not meant to be read from cover to cover. I don't just mean reference books, either. How about Lecture Notes in Computer Science? How about Techniques for Polymer organisation and morphology characterisation? How about just about any book in science and engineering? Oh - wait - maybe only social sciences and liberal arts count as scholarly endeavors? Also, what's to say that you can't read an entire book online. It's not that common, but many visually impaired people do it all the time.

Second - I take issue with his points from LJ. His definition of blog, "A blog is 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." Many, many, many bloggers are published and continue to publish. (RS Gordon, W Crawford, KG Schneider, M Ojala, G Price, S Cohen... to name just a very few just from the library world). Later in the commentary he states, "Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs." Whoa. Back the truck up. I, for one, frequently read complex texts. Many of the bloggers whose work I follow are PhDs or PhD candidates who provide bibliographies of what they read, so I KNOW they are reading complex texts.

Finally, I have to say that there are issues encountered when conducting natural language searching across full text collections of ebooks. I've encountered some of these myself in our SCHOLARLY ebooks collections. In the end, though, it does work for me because it helps me locate a relevant work and then I can read forwards and backwards in it to get the context. Perhaps, the argument that should have been made is more about what books will be omitted, and what value structured databases provide over natural language full text searching. The author could have chosen to compare results received from Google Scholar with those from a well designed database (see PJ's thorough review) and made comparisons to the book project. These articles are inflammatory and poorly supported. Shame on him and shame on us, the members of ALA who have him as our incoming president.

Updated: Spell checked.
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina's LIS Rant by Christina K. Pikas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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