Kathleen de la Peña McCook has linked to a review of David Denby’s new book, Snark, published in Salon recently, aiming her post at a particularly snarky and nasty blogger who likes to attack her personally.

Kathleen is right on the money in bringing this book to the attention of the blogosphere.


…snide, undermining abuse, nasty and knowing, that is spreading like pinkeye through the media and threatening to take over how Americans converse with each other and what they can count on as true.

(as defined by Denby)

I agree with Kathleen about the relevance of the book, and I feel that to the extent that library discourse lowers itself to that level, it is a sign that our profession is in a serious state of deterioration. I think we owe it to our institutions and to the future of the profession to be better than that.

(For the record, I am not saying anonymity should be banned, or that bad speech should be banned, or that anyone’s employer should be called because of an offensive blog post, or that IF is not a right, or that there should be rules against snarkiness. But I would definitely say that celebrating the right to ugly expression is not the same thing as celebrating ugly expression. I’m for the former and against the latter. Ugliness, viciousness, intolerance, and stupidity in our discourse are part of the cost we pay for our freedom, but we don’t need to celebrate those things when we celebrate our freedom.)

3 comments on “Snark

  1. I completely agree, there is also a real lack of accountability in blog discourse. It is so easy to be cruel to someone when you aren’t facing them face to face!

  2. Hello Rory, I read this book and was pretty disappointed. I really liked the idea for the book and thought the first two chapters were pretty interesting; however, like many such an endeavor, the author degenerated into be rather snarking himself, particularly against those who he accused of snarkiness, such as Maureen Dowd. Sadly, it seems hard to restrain oneself from comitting the same offense when discussing such an emotive subject. Otherwise, I think it’s a timely subject.

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