There are a couple passages in the first part of the article where I thought: They can’t be serious. Talking about how “it is likely that in the virtual environment subjective bias will be similar to the pre-civil rights era and that greater inequality will arise,” that over a virtual medium, reference librarians are somehow likely to announce extreme prejudices. A few lines later, the article talks about how over a virtual medium “librarians can become less self-aware and less likely to monitor their behavior and therefore more likely to react on impulses that would normally be inhibited.” So, when it comes to e-mail, librarians are no longer be able to hide how racist/xenophobic they are?
Was anyone surprised that this is exactly what happened? Somehow, once the e-mailing started, the librarians favoured certain groups. Maybe it’s just because the results were way worse, and that discrimination was more apparent than I expected, but I found the whole thing troubling. There’s a lesson in all this, I know, related to ethics. When I first started reading the article, I wasn’t convinced the lesson was necessary. It bugs me that, in the end, it was.