Michael Gorman, who caused much fuss with his Revenge of the Blog People article in the Library Journal (15, February 2005) is back on topic over at the Britannica Blog (oh, the irony) on how web2.0 is evil. He has written 2 out of a promised 3 posts on ‘Web2.0: The Sleep of Reason‘.I really could spend hours on these posts, and the supporting post (“It’s obvious that web2.0 is a cultural and intellectual catastrophe that will provoke mass media literacy in America”) by Andrew Keen, but I plan a review of Keen’s book (as well as a giveaway of said book) in the next few days.
However, I will pick one quote from part two of Gorman’s posts. He says “This ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’ and ‘hive mind’ mentality is a direct assault on the tradition of individualism in scholarship that has been paramount in Western Societies”. Now, maybe I have been reading the wrong scholarly articles and papers over the years, but most of those I have read were co-authored, often by half a dozen people (esp in Scientific papers). Why didn’t they all write their own papers so that they could retain their individualism? were they not worried that talking to others might poison their minds? When you read things like Gorman’s post you would be think that scholars never collaborated or operated in some elitist vacuum and that with web2.0 mass collaboration were being made compulsory and choice were being removed. Gorman is writing on Wikipedia in his next post – my my can you guess what his position will be?
Let me leave you with how Gorman leaves us: “the intellectual life of our society must continue to be based on respect for expertise, the scientific method, evidence-based texts, and, above all, the value of the individual scholar, author, and creator of knowledge”. A little pompous, but I would agree that these things should continue to play an important role on the intellectual life of our society, but unlike Gorman and Keen who see the world as black and white, either/or, I don’t think web2.0 is a threat to these things, I think it is an opportunity.