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The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace,…
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The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of… (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Andrew Keen

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6774321,159 (2.68)5
Member:paulmarculescu
Title:The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today's user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values
Authors:Andrew Keen
Info:Broadway Business (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:technology, web, web20, internet, business, culture, society, blog, wiki

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The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture by Andrew Keen (2007)

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English (36)  Dutch (5)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
simply shit ( )
  lucaconti | Jan 24, 2019 |
Parts of this are dead-on and Keen found a sympathetic reader in me when he attacks the blogosphere and the contemporary assumption, "My life is interesting! It is, it is, it is!" He has nailed the overall obsession with the self, with the idea that one opinion is as good as any other, that what one already knows is all one needs to know. He also seems to think Facebook is a cesspool--point to him. What's a bit off about Keen's polemic is his pining for the days in which the clerks at local record or book shops could assist customers by making recommendations. (I can find my own music and books, and there isn't even enough time to listen to or read a quarter of what I want.) He also has a soft spot for print journalism and lends credibility to tired and ideologically-bent papers like the old grey lady. But he's right about the crucial thing: all of the people online who think they are authors, musicians, or filmmakers just because they've posted something are contributing to an ethos in which some seventh-grader is seen as just as good a writer as Melville. That goes for reviewers, too--including this one. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
Keen's book, published in 2007, is a ranting polemic against Web 2.0 and the sad fact that there is no journalistic integrity anymore in an arena where anyone can say anything virtually without consequence. Keen comes off as a self-righteous elitist throughout the book, pretty much casting everyone as stupid, but he made a few pretty good points with respect to the monstrous amount of non-vetted materials released every day.

His argument against Wikipedia has some merit, particularly in light of problems actual people have with correcting entries about their own works or personal profiles. Sure, Google has its problems - dated hypothesis...perhaps in 2006 the search engine algorithms returned pages based more on popularity than authority, but if there is any monetary interest to the result returns, Google will show you those first now.

I thought he was really off base in his diatribe against all the "losses" sustained by the RIAA and MPAA due to piracy. Maybe the recording industry is losing some money, but the success of the digital cash cows of iTunes and similar belies their complaints. And Hollywood is still making barrows full of revenue.

Irrespective of the content, Keen got demerits from me when he said that The Great Gatsby was a masterpiece (disagree), and called Peter Jackson a "movie maestro" (and not a treasure destroying hack), but that's my amateurish opinion that I'm sharing on this world wide web.

cult makes a point or two, but it's really just a petulant rant and shouldn't be taken any more seriously than any of the other amateur content Keen hates. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Poor Keen. Smart, but a long way from being wise, or even sensible. He cherry picks examples while praising the skills of balanced neutral research and reporting which can only, one surmises, be obtained by following exactly the same academic and career path that Keen puts so much store by. He is, purely and simply, an intellectual snob - and not a particularly bright or insightful one. Just one example of his shallow trawling of his own mind makes the point... he deplores user generated video on the internet, suggesting it has done no more for humanity than swamp us in kitten videos, but forgets to mention the effect of internet posted videos of police and military brutality that have lifted entire nations out of their torpor. The message for Keen is: there is trash in the world - get used to it. And stop adding to it. I'm glad I paid twenty cents for this book, although that was about 19 cents too much. ( )
  nandadevi | May 7, 2015 |
Keen founded Audiocafe.com and looked as if he might be one of the rich kids of the net before, in 2004, seeing the light. In this impassioned polemic, while obviously still retaining much of his enthusiasm for the good things that the net might prove to be, he warns us of all the aspects we prefer to ignore -- i.e., he tries to shake us out of our collective state of denial over the dangers not so much of digital piracy (although he has plenty to say on this) or the oceans of hardcore porn engulfing our children (plenty on that too) but of the very "democratization of knowledge" that we're supposed to accept as a good thing. As he points out repeatedly, there's a very good reason why human society grew to contain experts whom lay people (who might themselves be experts in other spheres) could consult on matters involving specialist knowledge: we do not rely on the wisdom of crowds if we need surgery to remove a brain tumour, so why do we expect it could serve us any better when we look up the Wikipedia entry on neurosurgery? Yet the existence of Wikipedia, with the often scanty and unreliable knowledge of its contributors and editors, is driving the companies that, employing an army of specialist writers and editors, produce (or used to produce) conventional encyclopedias; soon our culture will have entirely replaced reference works containing largely reliable content with a compendium filled to a great extent with amateur suppositions and, too often, deliberate falsifications but with the single benefit that it's easy to access and free.

It's not just Wikipedia, of course, that concerns Keen: Wikipedia is merely an example of how the internet is destroying knowledge: what it's offering is not so much a democratization as mob rule, with the mob very often having no more brains than a lynch mob. Keen was writing slightly too early to deal with the grievous effect that the internet-driven proliferation of misinformation, pseudoscience and claptrap concerning -- i.e., denying -- anthropogenic global warming is having on our decision-making; but he fingers all the elements of that fiasco: the oil-industry-funded astroturf groups that are everywhere, credited by hundreds of millions globally who have never so much as heard of sourcewatch.org or snopes.com; the tendency of too many of us to believe the voice that shouts loudest rather than the one that knows what it's talking about; the rapid decline of professional, responsible journalism, which has to be paid for, in the face of "citizen journalism" (i.e., amateur, often partisan or corrupt or ignorant or bigoted, fulminations), which is free; the perils of an overabundance of information sources (even if there wasn't the problem of there being nothing obvious to distinguish their relative reliability, especially if you've become so punch drunk from the bombardment of false information that your critical faculties are deadened); the fact that this tsunami of false information and untruth is not educating us but actually making us more ignorant -- yet, even in that state of ever-increasing stupidity, more convinced that our opinions are as good as anyone else's. The list could go on.

There's a very telling anecdote here about the world-renowned expert on global warming who tried to correct various errors of fact in the Wikipedia article on the subject. He was countered by a Wikipedia editor who, unconcerned by his own ignorance, criticized the expert harshly for constantly "pushing his own POV". When the expert took this higher up within the Wikipedia structure, he discovered to his horror that everyone supported this opinionated buffoon.

The destruction of common knowledge and the consequent deterioration of our civil and political discourse are not Keen's only subjects. He's concerned also with what could loosely be termed the arts. Sturgeon's Law, that 90% of everything is crap, applied to cultural material that had been selected and massaged by trained editors or their equivalents. With the "democratization of culture", with the internet offering an open mic night that never, ever ends, Sturgeon's 90% climbs almost exponentially. Consider: If you have 1000 books of which 100 are worth reading, the chances are (especially through recommendations by friends) you'll encounter much of the good stuff; but, if you have 100,000 books of which 200 have merit, it's quite likely that you and your friends may never encounter any of the good stuff. The internet (and other digital technology) having opened up the opportunity for anyone to "publish" their book, this is the situation we're confronting. And the knock-on effect of all this substitute culture -- the awful novels, the tuneless garage bands, etc. -- being available for free is that the businesses which used to filter out the garbage and find the good stuff for us are collapsing into bankruptcy, the expertise of their staff being permanently lost to our society. It's hard to feel much sympathy for the music industry, I know, after it treated consumers like shit for decades, but it did actually serve a useful purpose. And do we really want feature movies to vanish, leaving us with nothing but YouTube and reality TV to watch?

This book's not flawless -- it's often a bit repetitive -- but it's extraordinarily readable with lots of chewy anecdotal goodness, and its author has something of genuine importance to say: there are parts I'd dispute, but they're peripheral . . . and, anyway, it's one of the marks of a good book that it should make the reader think hard enough to formulate a counterargument. Even if you think everything's hunky-dory with the internet and the "democratization of knowledge" is a wunnerful, wunnerful thing -- in fact, especially if you think everything's hunky-dory with the internet and the "democratization of knowledge" is a wunnerful, wunnerful thing -- I'd give this book a try.

And every libertarian you know should be required to read the book's Chapter 3, "Truth and Lies", before opening their mouths yet again to lecture you on how freedom of speech is so important it should take precedence over all other considerations. Yes, obviously it's important; but at the moment it's being exploited by those who're stupid or actively malevolent, and some of its consequences -- like the campaign of AGW-denying falsehood -- may well destroy us. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This book, which grew out of a controversial essay published last year by The Weekly Standard, is a shrewdly argued jeremiad against the digerati effort to dethrone cultural and political gatekeepers and replace experts with the “wisdom of the crowd.”
 
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For Elias, Zara, and Betsy.
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First a confession. Back in the nineties, I was a pioneer in the first Internet gold rush.
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It's ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule. On steroids. [p. 1]
[T]he moral fabric of our society is being unravelled by Web 2.0. It seduces us into acting on our most deviant instincts and allows us to succumb to our most destructive vices. [p. 163]
Every defunct record label and round of newspaper downsizing are a consequence of "free" user-generated Internet content - from Craigslist's free advertising, to free music videos, to free encyclopedias, to free weblogs. [p. 27]
In a twisted kind of Alice in Wonderland, down-the-rabbit-hole logic, Silicon Valley visionaries such as Stanford law professor and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig and cyberpunk William Gibson laud the appropriation of intellectual property. [p. 24]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385520808, Hardcover)

Amateur hour has arrived, and the audience is running the show

In a hard-hitting and provocative polemic, Silicon Valley insider and pundit Andrew Keen exposes the grave consequences of today’s new participatory Web 2.0 and reveals how it threatens our values, economy, and ultimately the very innovation and creativity that forms the fabric of American achievement.

Our most valued cultural institutions, Keen warns—our professional newspapers, magazines, music, and movies—are being overtaken by an avalanche of amateur, user-generated free content. Advertising revenue is being siphoned off by free classified ads on sites like Craigslist; television networks are under attack from free user-generated programming on YouTube and the like; file-sharing and digital piracy have devastated the multibillion-dollar music business and threaten to undermine our movie industry. Worse, Keen claims, our “cut-and-paste” online culture—in which intellectual property is freely swapped, downloaded, remashed, and aggregated—threatens over 200 years of copyright protection and intellectual property rights, robbing artists, authors, journalists, musicians, editors, and producers of the fruits of their creative labors.

In today’s self-broadcasting culture, where amateurism is celebrated and anyone with an opinion, however ill-informed, can publish a blog, post a video on YouTube, or change an entry on Wikipedia, the distinction between trained expert and uninformed amateur becomes dangerously blurred. When anonymous bloggers and videographers, unconstrained by professional standards or editorial filters, can alter the public debate and manipulate public opinion, truth becomes a commodity to be bought, sold, packaged, and reinvented.

The very anonymity that the Web 2.0 offers calls into question the reliability of the information we receive and creates an environment in which sexual predators and identity thieves can roam free. While no Luddite—Keen pioneered several Internet startups himself—he urges us to consider the consequences of blindly supporting a culture that endorses plagiarism and piracy and that fundamentally weakens traditional media and creative institutions.

Offering concrete solutions on how we can rein in the free-wheeling, narcissistic atmosphere that pervades the Web, THE CULT OF THE AMATEUR is a wake-up call to each and every one of us.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Silicon Valley insider and pundit Andrew Keen claims that today's new participatory Web 2.0 threatens our values, economy, and ultimately the very innovation and creativity that forms the fabric of American achievement. In today's self-broadcasting culture, where amateurism is celebrated and anyone with an opinion, however ill-informed, can publish a blog, post a video on YouTube, or change an entry on Wikipedia, the distinction between trained expert and uninformed amateur becomes blurred. When bloggers and videographers, unconstrained by professional standards or editorial filters, can manipulate public opinion, truth becomes a commodity to be bought, sold, packaged, and reinvented. The anonymity that Web 2.0 offers calls into question the reliability of the information we receive and creates an environment in which sexual predators and identity thieves can roam free. Keen urges us to consider the consequences of supporting a culture that endorses plagiarism and piracy and weakens traditional media and creative institutions.--From publisher description.… (more)

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