Friday, July 13, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur

Posted by Teresa at 11:37 AM

In the book 'The Cult of the Amateur,' Andrew Keen argues
that the internet is filled with amateur and low quality content
and thus lowering culture. He also finds that new media purveyors
as too idealistic in their hopes that the Internet is spreading
democracy. Excerpt here. Here is a quote from the book:

"The Web 2.0 revolution has peddled the promise of bringing more truth
to more people- more depth of information, more global perspective, more
unbiased opinion from dispassionate observers. But this is all a smoke screen.
What the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observation
of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than
considered judgment. The information business is being transformed by the
Internet into sheer noise of a hundred million bloggers all simultaneously
talking about themselves."

I agree with some of the points he makes, for example, the noise of all the internet
can be loud and also it is a time waster. But I would argue not everyone producing
web content is an amateur. There are plenty of formally educated and experienced
writers, political scientists, philosophers, theologians, journalists, actors, film makers,
photographers, etc. spreading their ideas and content around the Internet. I would
also like to ask Keen how does he think people become professionals? We all are
amateurs at some point or another in our lives, right?

People are naturally going to gravitate to material that is quality. Most of the popular
video blogs are well written and produced. Most of the popular political blogs are well
researched and written. Sure it takes some time to sift through all the junk but like
many things in life it is worth the search.

Oh, and here is Andrew Keen in a Youtube video talking about his book, which is
ironic since his book basically bashes outlets like the user-generated content Web

Disclaimer: I have not read all the book. I read the excerpt and listened to his
hour long discussion on Youtube about the book. Therefore, I gathered my
information for my posting from that material.


Joshua P. Allem on 1:57 PM, July 13, 2007 said...

I agree that the net is full of amateur as well as immature content. But I think that's only a matter of timing. Whenever new technology or forms of media becomes available, it's always the youngest crowd who grabs hold of it first. During the 60s and 70s, AM Radio was seen as the established medium while FM Radio (which was new) was seen as the underground radio that was mostly enjoyed by teens. The same thing can be said of public broadcasting networks VS Cable back in the 70s. If the net is full of amateur material, it's only because the professionals are still holding on to the old way of doing things whether it be the tired old newspaper that gets thrown in your driveway every morning or the seasonal TV Shows that get processed out every Fall.


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