“a snide attack on what I [Walt] regard as a core value of librarianship.”
According to my computer’s internal dictionary, ‘snide’ is defined as
“derogatory or mocking in an indirect way,”
“(of a person) devious and underhanded.”
Assuming that Walt is implying any intention on my part to conform to either of those definitions, I’d have to most vehemently disagree. I meant – and still mean – what I wrote;
“…but whilst recognising the importance of upholding and protecting personal freedoms we must not become trapped in endless agonising over whether or not our poor misguided users should be ‘allowed’ to ‘give up their privacy.’”
Walt’s comment – that I attacked something he sees as a core value of librarianship – is actually quite important here, as my post began by questioning a similar assertion by Rory Litwin that
“Privacy is a central, core value of libraries”
I really don’t see that it is. Indeed, as I originally wrote in response to Rory’s statement,
“Is it? Ensuring access to a wide range of material, yes. Protecting the individual’s right to go where they wish without censorship or censure, yes. But ‘Privacy’ is a term that can quickly become overly loaded, and can equally quickly become a quite ridiculous justification for not doing anything interesting.”
Walt doesn’t seem to like that, either, and suggests lack of balance rather than snideness this time around.
“Wow! Calling privacy a ”quite ridiculous justification“ for not doing something. There’s a kind of New Librarianship that moves strongly away from balance, and is just what we want to hear from a vendor whose systems should support privacy.”
I stand by what I wrote, and feel quite balanced, thank you very much. I’ll agree with one thing, though. Yes, our systems (and everyone else’s) “should support privacy”. It’s not for me, or for any one librarian, to decide on their own the level at which those privacy settings should be set, though. In an increasingly complex web of interconnections and calls upon our attention, it must surely verge upon the foolhardy to suggest that any one profession can know best, and control the levels of access to which the rest of the populace are to be permitted access.
There is a complex balance to be struck between a totally unregulated flow of data on the one hand and ‘privacy’-induced lock down of everything on the other. Protection of the individual’s rights (including their right to share access to their personal details) is, of course, hugely important. Protecting an individual’s right to choose to maintain their own privacy is part of that. The near-hysteria of those who wish to intervene in the activities of internet users ‘for their own protection’ is unhelpful and must surely reinforce stereotypical views of an authoritarian and nanny-ish library ‘authority’. Equally, suggestions that everyone is cast adrift to fend for themselves are disingenuous, and a long way from what I was writing.
All that aside, Walt has delivered yet another thought-provoking tome. I may find it increasingly difficult (even when I’m not being called snide or unbalanced) to locate much with which I can agree, but at least he continues to make me think.