by: Lynette Webb

I've come close to buying the book "Cult of the Amateur" a few times now, but have shied away as I sensed it was going to be one of those books I threw at the wall every few pages in frustration.

decisive factor - LW.jpg

Here's a few tasters of Andrew Keen's writing in case you've not come across it:
www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2007/06/the_cult_of_the_ama...
sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=19&entr...

Thankfully Ilya Vedrashko has spared me the hassle and written an in-depth review that confirms my suspicions. blog.futurelab.net/2007/07/book_the_cult_of_the_amateur.html.

So I won't be reading the book. But don't get me wrong... this doesn't mean I disagree with everything Andrew says, or think everything about web 2.0 and the rise of blogs, youtube etc is great. Some of the impact is good, some bad, and some frankly too soon to tell... (the same could be said for the introduction of any media). There's a fascinating story to tell about this, but I'm waiting for someone to take a more nuanced approach rather than an extremist position on either end of the spectrum.

My biggest issue with Andrew Keen's view (or at least what seems to be his view judging from the articles) is that I think that it's incredibly arrogant to dismiss everything that isn't published by a noted academician or paid journalist as being of automatically lower value. As the quote on this chart points out, some of the biggest advances of our time have come from people who were 'amateurs' by the standards of their day. The big challenge for society today is not to put the genie back in the box and make everyone shut up, but instead to help people get better at judging the credibility and likely accuracy of information.

In this regard, Wikipedia is fascinating not just for the way in which content is contributed, but in how increasingly ruthless standards of objectivity are (at least attempted) to be upheld. To refer back to an earlier NYT article: "The easy global dissemination of, well, everything has generated a D.I.Y. culture of proud subjectivity... Wikipedians, most of them born in the information age, have tasked themselves with weeding that subjectivity not just out of one another's discourse but also out of their own. They may not be able to do any actual reporting from their bedrooms or dorm rooms or hotel rooms, but they can police bias, and they do it with a passion that's no less impressive for its occasional excess of piety. Who taught them this? It's a mystery; but they are teaching it to one another." (For more see: www.flickr.com/photos/lynetter/727592905/in/set-720575941... )

The quote on the slide comes from www.roughtype.com/archives/2007/06/flickering_man.php
Photo via Flickr CC thanks to alwaysstone www.flickr.com/photos/alwaysstone/335474463/ 

Original Post: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynetter/904637124/

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