The threat of Web 2.0 Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Will Hinton notes a NYT review about Andrew Keen's new book "The Cult of the Amateur". As Hinton describes him, "Keen is often referred to as the leading contrarian and critic of Web 2.0. and ironically has his own Typepad hosted blog to discuss his disdain for blogs, social media, etc."
Now I haven't read Keen's book and, for whatever reason, the NYT site isn't accepting my previous registration today and I'm not inclined to re-register, so all I have is this excerpt from Hinton's blog. That understood, let's deal with it:
"Mr. Keen argues that what the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment. In his view Web 2.0 is changing the cultural landscape and not for the better. By undermining mainstream media and intellectual property rights, he says, it is creating a world in which we will live to see the bulk of our music coming from amateur garage bands, our movies and television from glorified YouTubes, and our news made up of hyperactive celebrity gossip, served up as mere dressing for advertising. This is what happens, he suggests, when ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule.
As Hinton says "I couldn't disagree more with Keen. Not because I blog. But because Keen is wrong."
I agree with Hinton, who then does a very credible job of fisking the assessments that are reflected in the review (and we assume they're accurate). I thought I'd add my 2 cents.
Let's begin with "superficial observations of the word v. deep analysis."
How does one wave their hand over 8 million blogs and make such a blanket statement? There are certainly any number of blogs, in fact, probably the majority, which indeed offer "superficial observations". However, just as Hinton did, I can offer an extended list of blogs who do excellent and deep analysis of many issues. Much more so than any MSM outlet. That has never been more evident to me than when it comes to the military and military affairs. So on its face, this one just falls well short.
And, of course, that carries over to the second point: "shrill opinion rather than considered judgment." Yes to both. You can find whatever you want, but to pretend it is exclusively one and not the other is to be totally disingenuous, or flat ignorant of the subject.
What begins to creep into your subconscious at this point is the feeling that Keen is nothing more than an apologist for the MSM and the right of journalists and MSM outlets to decide what you should see and know. It is impossible, in Keen's world view, that those who haven't been through the approved process of becoming an MSM journalist or outlet could possibly have anything worthwhile to say.
That creeping feeling finally pushes its way to the front with this line:
By undermining mainstream media and intellectual property rights, he says, it is creating a world in which we will live to see the bulk of our music coming from amateur garage bands, our movies and television from glorified YouTubes, and our news made up of hyperactive celebrity gossip, served up as mere dressing for advertising.
"Undermining mainstream media" is MSM apologist talk for a multitude of concerns. Fact checking, of course, undermines the MSM, by destroying its credibility and claims of editorial perfection. Offering alternative opinions and analysis undermines the MSM's monopoly on opinion and thus opinion shaping. Offering first-hand accounts of events that add too or contradict MSM stories undermines the MSM ability to slant the news. And Keen doesn't like the MSM monopoly on information and news delivery being challenged.
It's hilarious, however to contemplate his objections to music and YouTube. The complete democratization of both music and "movies and television" scares the crap out of Keen. That's because it avoids the current closed process in which the chosen anoint the next stars of music and media and benefit from doing so. His implict charge is that the public doesn't have the taste or ability to make those choices on their own. So they will choose that of "garage bands" and amateurish nonsense on YouTube over that which he and his ilk have deemed appropriate.
But have you watched or listened to much of what the process he defends is providing now? Is anyone surprised to see creativity and talent beginning to try to find alternate means to present themselves to the public rather than the traditional means which Keen prefers? For once, diversity and choice are in positive accord. And as usual, the old guard is terrified. The "suits" see their closed system dying before their eyes.
Says Will Hinton in his conclusion:
Is Web 2.0 harming the establishment media, as Keen claims? Yep, you bet. Are we dumber as a result? Well, that's up to us finally, isn't it?
Yup, and that drives people like Andrew Keen crazy.
The internet is proof of the old adage, "You have to kiss a lot of Toad, until you find your Prince." Prior to it, editors did the toad kissing and occasionally threw out some princes. Now you and Google and other bloggers can do that for yourself. Some things Keen thinks are "Toad" I might think are "Princes". Keen’s just grumpy that I don’t have to use him, exclusively, to discover the Princes on the Internet, and I think he and others fear that if I don’t use them, they might well lose their jobs.
Everything else aside, if we are to take the New York Times as a gauge for what is and what is not accurate, we are in worse trouble than even I thought.
More’s the pity; the Times thinks itself to be accurate, despite all proof to the contrary... Apparently judging everyone else’s accuracy based on the question of how closely everyone else locksteps with the Times.