<![CDATA[apophenia: somewhere in-between the ALA and Google is harmony: danah boyd sees…
I was invited to Keynote at the ALA’s Library and Information Technology Association national conference. At first, i was befuddled – why me? And then, when i looked at the other keynotes, i knew i was in trouble. I was sandwiched between someone speaking about “how librarians can still vanquish Googlezon and win back our rightful place as the guardians of the world’s knowledge and all that is good” and Michael Gorman (the President of the ALA who upset quite a few people with his essay on “those blog people”)….
And then, today, Sergey Brin of Google appeared in my Search class as a surprise guest (webcast will be posted). I realized i had never heard him talk except for when i was working for the company and then, he could say whatever he wanted. In public, he was clearly trying to negotiate what he was and was not allowed to say. He really rattled some feathers though with his response to the semantic web, tagging and librarianship. He took the techno-centric point of view that is so Google. Tagging inverts the relationship between man and machine. Tagging is only of interest and valuable if machines do it. Technology is just as good as experts and it’s a waste of the expert’s time to bother trying. (A good quote from this section was “Experiments like Esperanto have failed.”) One of my professors was really outraged by all of this – i thought his head was going to blow off. God it was painful. Will Google ever understand that culture has value? I guess not so long as technodeterminism is profitable. Gah.
So in less than a week, i got to see the most stubborn and power-hungry sides of two institutions who see no value in the other.
I was exchanging some mail about this with Stuart Gannes this week, while talking about paramedia. How would the world move beyond search? Narrative is the oldest value-add in human culture, I said, though in retrospect I was stating a position Google completely ignores.
And then this from Thomas Crampton, who is blogging for Joi, and delves into the “distinction” between blogging and journalism (as though there is a narrow gap of semantic and expressive capacity that distinguishes the two or, say, that separate poetry and prose):
In blogging you engage and try to spark conversations, not lecture. You succeed by getting feedback, not by writing something conclusive. A successful posting is a work in progress.
Blogging is not conclusive? How can you engage in debate, the essence of democratic life, without taking conclusive positions? It seems to me that there is a movement to conclude—even if it is not the case—that a conversational marketplace is essentially value-free until it can be searched later, tagged and contextualized, which is the position Google takes. If you concede that point, then the conversation only “makes sense” in the wider context of every other conversation which is indexed in the same way by Google (or Yahoo! or whomever) and contending summaries of the world, offered by competing companies, is the only source of value. And what? Have we arrived at the end of history and all that’s left is to calculate the Page Rank? I seriously doubt it.
Shortly, narrative will reemerge, as it does after every other transitional media moment (the first printed books, besides Bibles, were accounting primers, only later did the novel, the long-form essay, etc., appear as popular forms). Does anyone else remember when “no one would read the news online”? I’m sure they do, but they want to believe in the new, when finding harmony requires that we integrate the past and future instead of dumping the former for the latter, and then dumping new futures as they, too, are obsoleted.
Change is a fine thing, but it’s important not to get lost in changing.]]>