Re: [NGC4LIB] Publishers and ebooks

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 05/11/2011 08:18 PM, john g marr wrote:


… we *must” take people as they are … *None* of us can take the time to learn *everything* to make *deeply* informed decisions, there is simply *too much* to know and it would be an *unending* task; as a result, we would accomplish *nothing* at all.

There go those exaggerations, “fallacies” and “biases” again.

There are way too many people who say such things followed (implicitly or explicitly) by “So let me be the Great Decider for you!” Our society does not have to run amok creating as many products and customers and as little personal time as possible– there are, or can be, alternatives.

This is an example of whenever one person says something in a forthright manner, the response is that they are uttering fallacies and biases. The moment a person makes a decision and takes a stand, they, by definition, can be accused of being biased. Of course they are. They have made a decision. The only other option is to never make a decision in the first place, or backtrack constantly. I remember as a boy reading a saying of my boyhood hero, Davy Crockett, who said, “I leave this for others when I am dead–make sure you are right, then go ahead.” Think about something but sooner or later, you must make the best decision, be it right or wrong, and take a stand.

The statement that “none of us can take the time to learn everything to make deeply informed decisions” is a statement of absolute, 100% fact. There is no exaggeration at all. That is, unless you can demonstrate that it is indeed false but that will be very tough. Who is simultaneously expert in mechanics, dentistry, climate change, the local, national, and international budgets, international affairs, languages, literatures, cultures, plus has a deep understanding of how your corn was grown, harvested and canned, plus the best ways to massage a cat? To know all of this is beyond my strength–I freely confess it, and I rely on the knowledge and ethics of acknowledged experts, because I have no choice. If needed, I would certainly want to trust an experienced surgeon to cut me open instead of doing it myself. Since we are mortal, we all have limitations and they must be acknowledged. I see nothing wrong with this kind of situation. The human race has come up with “cooperation” to make up for it. One person specializes in one area, while another specializes in another area and they cooperate.

As I said before, I think people want help with selection and I think it is our responsibility help them. Saying that each person needs to take responsibility for their own “selection” using “critical thinking” could be construed as a dereliction of our jobs. When someone does a search on Google or Google Books or Scholar, or wherever, and gets hundreds or thousands or millions of results from who knows where, then doing critical thinking for each resource is impossible. That is also not an exaggeration.

The person looking at this is deciding what to do. Should they look at the top 5 critically? What will they be missing? The problem is not theirs–it is ours since we should somehow be helping them. And not by preaching but by doing. In this case–and in the case of much of information management today, the Google-type algorithms are effectively doing the selection, and that is quite frightening for society as a whole. I would much rather have acknowledged experts involved in some way.

As I said, there is just too much to know and to work with. This situation can be managed only in a cooperative way and I think libraries could be an important part of an innovative solution that could help everyone.