On Being Critical Without Being a Douche

Every couple of weeks, I see authors I love remind other authors to just be nice already. Today, I came across a writer (no I will not link there) who has an entire website devoted to how much the genre they love has begun to suck and thus this person has decided to do the world the immense favor of writing non-sucking books for all of the languishing fans of that genre. I am not even going to touch the fact that this writer bashed women authors of the genre for being too touchy-feely, but stick with the main task at hand.

I understand that the range of tastes are immense and we all have our preferences, but there is a difference between bringing up critical issues with something and being a douche.

Be constructive in your criticism. If you have a complaint, explain why you believe the issue to be an issue. Painting everything or everyone else as crap because you do not like it, is not constructive. For example, in romance the rape scene as titillation, which was popular in the 80’s and 90’s, is problematic because it normalizes the belief that “she really wanted it so it’s not rape.”

I can have this opinion and not think that all authors who participated in this trope are terrible. Some of the authors I like have written books with this trope. I just choose not to like those books. If you have a problem with a trend within a genre, then talk about the trend with other adjectives that do not involve excrement or expletives.

Offer a solution to the issue at hand. If you see something wrong, offer ways that issue can be fixed or another way to handle the challenge. If there is a problem in your organization, brainstorm some ideas on how YOU can make it better. If we are talking about writing, write something different and then let your writing stand on its own merits. There is no need to bash other writers of your genre as you seek to instigate change. That brings me to my last point.

If you can not be constructive or offer a solution, be nice. If you feel you can not have a civilized discussion, do not have the discussion at all. Instead, find an author, company, or person who is doing something right and applaud them. Point out all the ways they are doing the opposite of the thing you dislike. Cheer on the people you think are doing a good job.

In the words of Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.”

Jacob, the BeerBrarian, has an excellent post on why men should just be nice to women already which goes along nicely with my directive to be nice. Jacob’s post is a good example of pointing out issues without being a douche. That and the gif on his post is fabulous.

Perhaps, if we all spent more time applauding the good, the bad would get less airtime and thus seek our attention less.

I do not want to be perceived as a Pollyanna. Readers who have been around for a long time know that is not me, at all.

However, when we have conversations about how we dislike this thing about a genre or that thing about a company, can we please be constructive and seek to solve the problem? If you can do neither of those things, can you choose to be nice instead? Because if you are just mean and complain about everything and everybody, you are being a douche.

–Jane, don’t be a douche

Updated to add the Wheaton quote because I did not want my nerd cred to be revoked.

Out of All the Titles, Really?

I could not help thinking as I read this article about a Fond du Lac, WI parent seeking to ban 7 books from the school library that it is a good thing she is not more versed in YA literature. The books she has her knickers in a bunch about are pretty tame!

Her list: Ann Brashares’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern, and two Sonia Sones titles, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies and What My Mother Doesn’t Know.

Good thing she has never read any vampire YA. Her head might explode.

–Jane, *boom*

Your Current Plan is Not a Good One

I am poking my head up because I came across some posts discussing the news that Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, and the Hachette Book Group (of Meyer and Patterson fame) will be delaying the release of ebook formats of new releases because the hardbacks are not selling as well.


This is a great plan guys. Really. I assure you that the people that switched over to ebooks are not going to plunk down $30 for a huge book when a couple months (or some Internet searching) will get them the same book as an ebook for $10 (or free). I also assure you that a large number of the people who used to buy hardbacks now have ereaders.

I am sorry that your publishing structure is threatened by technology. Please learn to move on and adjust your company strategy or you will go drown in your own bad decisions. Pulled under by that 10 pound tome no one really wants to buy anymore.

The Smart Bitches, as always, have the best response.

For the record, I still buy some hardbacks, but not to read and only for authors I really love. I collect them for my shelf and there are very few I am willing to do that for anymore.

–Jane, no longer shackled to paper

The Irony Fisticuffs Kanye West

There are so many hilarious things about Kayne West writing a book when he clearly detests reading, I am not sure where to start.

“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed,” West said. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph.

The book supposedly contains gems of advice and even blank pages in the 52 page tome.

But what really, really makes me laugh the most… He had to have a co-author. Seriously.

A co-author to write tidbits this:

“I feel like to misuse, overuse or abuse someone is negative. To use is necessary and if you can’t be used, then you are useless.”

–Jane, who in the what now?

What does this teach students?

I am not sure expelling this student for being the admin of a virtual study group is the answer to this problem. If what the students say is true, they were only using the group to help each other, much as people do in a real f2f study group, not give answers to homework or tests. There has to be a better way to have this discussion with students.

It is likely that the administrators of Ryerson University do not know what was actually going on within the facebook group and do not understand how the students were using the technology. This is a classic example of cutting of your arm because you have a hangnail on your finger.

–Jane, doubts many of the “adults” in this situation have spent time in facebook

Plagiarism is Stealing and You Can Not Hide From It, the Internets Will Find You

Geez, I ignore a feed for a couple days and all hell breaks loose. This is what happens, gentle readers, when you do not pay attention to things.

The Smart Bitches, they are smart you know, have uncovered a huge plagiarism scandal by bestselling romance author Cassie Edwards. If you go to their website, you can view the serious of posts, all collated at the top of th home page, or use the handy PDF Cassie has created.

What amazes me about the entire thing is the backlash they are receiving, as if plagiarism is not a big deal. People are telling the Bitches they are “mean” for exposing Cassie Edwards. Plagiarism is stealing. Taking someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own is stealing. Wikipedia has a very nice article on plagiarism.

As an educator, I spend a lot of time explaining plagiarism to students because they have often never been taught the fine line of stealing when creating academic work. That lack of knowledge has bled into all aspects of our life. As information creators, we are responsible for the words we say are our own. In an age when it is very easy to check your words against the largest database in the world, the Internet, people should never be surprised when they get caught.

I have some advice for Ms. Edwards and Signet: just admit you screwed up and make amends. Legal spin and rhetoric are not going to release you from looking like idiots, but you can avoid looking like douche bags and assholes. If you fess up and are honest, you may at least gain some respect back for being adults about your mistakes. If you choose not to, well, you may find you loose all credibility and many of your customers.

–Jane, plagiarism is no joke

I’m Being Repressed!

All of the recent Gorman discussion smacks of the elite feeling scared that the peasants are gaining control of the system. (and no, I will not link to the tripe that Gorman wrote) I think the authorities had the same things to say about Gutenberg as Gorman has to say about the internet.We all know how well that argument went.

As an explanation, and example, of oppression by the ruling classes, here is a woman, Dennis, and King Arthur, of the Britons:

WOMAN: Order, eh — who does he think he is?
ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don’t vote for kings.
WOMAN: Well, ‘ow did you become king then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, [angels sing] her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops] That is why I am your king!
DENNIS: Listen — strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: Well you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went around sayin’ I was an Emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away!
ARTHUR: Shut up! Will you shut up!
DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed!
ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
DENNIS: Oh, what a give away! Did you here that, did you here that, eh? That’s what I’m on about — did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn’t you?

–Jane, ALA is the tart that gave Michael Gorman a sword

Out of Context or Being a Hypocrite

Either way, you look like an ass hat.

On Being a Hypocrite

Two things recently popped up that make my want to wash my hands of the constant hand wringing and “I am better then the common man” librarianship that seems to be the common backlash against innovation and free thought. One involves me personally.

I believe Michael Gorman was sad that we were not talking about him anymore and thus wrote the most ridiculous thing he could imagine. Jason Griffey firmly slams many of Gorman’s arguments. I would only add two things.

There is this sentence:

The task before us is to extend into the digital world the virtues of authenticity, expertise, and scholarly apparatus that have evolved over the 500 years of print, virtues often absent in the manuscript age that preceded print.

It made me wonder if Mr. Gorman ever studied coterie writing and if he found that too to be lacking. I wonder if all of the minority scholars, many of them unable to publish for years because of their gender or race, are less valuable because they were not readily accepted into the Authority of Print.

Secondly, Mr. Gorman managed to insult my belief structure as well as lambaste a form of communication which he himself used to publish this ridiculous tripe. Good Job.

On Taking Things Out of Context to Make a Scholarly Point and Thus Making Yourself Look Less Than Scholarly

This bothers me more because I was used as an example of why blogs are bad at the most recent NASIG conference. In a presentation at NASIG, the speaker was bashing blogs because of our trivial writing and cited, of all things, this post I wrote after CiL.

Updated: Here is the link to the presentation summary from NASIG. And another. (thanks to kgs and Kathryn).

I find it amusing that the speaker would use me as an example at all. There are more trivial blogs out there. My blog is semi-professional to begin with and I never claim to have any authority except over myself. But for a scholar, to use that post, instead of this one, or this, or this, in a presentation at a national conference to say that all librarian bloggers are trivial is harmful and wrong. A lie one might say.

Taking things out of context and making them more important than they truly are does nothing to prove your point. That CiL post was trivial. I wrote it that way and I do not claim to have any authority because of it. What it does prove is that you are afraid.

You are afraid that I have been given a voice. You are afraid that people actually read what I have to say. You are afraid because I am young and do not buy into your pedagogy of librarianship. You are afraid that I am stealing some power you believe you hold. You are afraid of change and the turning of the seasons. You are made of fear and you think that your fear can hurt me.

I am not afraid. You can not take away my ability to write what I choose and give it voice in a place where people can read it and respond. Your fear is what gives me authority.

–Jane, “I will not be moved.”

Creation Museum in KY

I would not lie to you. Oh, how I wish I could shield you from the crazy, loonymaking reality that is the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Slate has an article about it today.

I am not sure what I can even say about this without sputtering in disbelief. I do admire this group’s dedication even if I think they are hilariously crazy. Please do not throw rotten vegetables at all Christians. Some of us are quite reasonable. I promise.
Of course, the Smart Bitches have used this opportunity to create a cover snark using one of the dioramas, because what is funnier then Adam and Eve doing it in some lily pads?

–Jane, nothing