Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Cult Of The Amateur

So, Andrew "I'm not really self-serving elitest" Keen has been making the rounds of late, thanks to his scheme to actually get paid to troll, called The Cult Of The Amateur.
(no, I'm not gonna link to the book...)
If you've missed this, the basic premis is that because the internet allows everyone to voice their opinions and/or their art/music/whatever, it is destroying the opportunities for people of real talent and real intelligence.
Lets break that down into two groups, which, I beliece, is how Mr. Keen sees it.

1. Artists: I'm not sure what Andy thinks the art world was like BEFORE the internets, but I can assure him that since the demise of patrons, being an artist of any kind has always been an uphill battle. It is difficult to imagine that blogging and such have had any negative impact on this. Are more people pumping out music? Sure. But it also means that you don't need to go bankrupt to put together an album and distribute it. Think of how people like Ani DiFranco would have LOVED to be able to tap into this network! Had all these tubes been in place years earlier, perhaps we would have been spared Fiona Apple's pathetic tirade at the grammies.
I'm also not certain Mr. Keen is aware that, even before this technology, a large number of artists were putting out crap. The interwebs haven't changed that, either.

2. Journalists and the media: He's right on this topic, in that we do have to read our news critically. Bloggers are formally answerable to no one. Atrios could put up posts saying that "Bush may be contemplating invading Iran within the next two days" and there's not alot that would happen. I mean, jeez, go look at Little Green Footballs and Michelle Malkin if you want to see how poorly some sites report 'news'. I'm not saying that they are out-and-out lying, but...
The thing is...the MSM has CAUSED this to happen. When the nightly news, the NYT, the white house press corp, etc. all become mouthpieces for the administration, when they report virtually nothing of substance, when they become sheep because they are afraid to step on anyone's toes, well, what did they expect to happen?
Its like Jon says...its almost as if the mainstream media has completely abdicated its responsibilities.

I could go on for a while more on this, but I won't.
I will relate a quickie here, though.
Caught Sir Keen on CSPAN2 this weekend. He was just doing a panel thing back in June. The other guy on the panel was Lev Grossman, writer for time magazine (and, incidentally, someone I went to school with a gazillion years ago). The conversation would go something like this:
Keen: 'The real problem is that there are so many people who are trying to X'
- make a living on the internet
- think they can get rich on the internet
- think that everything any blogger posts is true
- etc.
Lev: 'Um...where are all these people you keep talking about?'


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