On the cult of the amateur

I have on my “to read” list the book, The cult of the amateur, by Andrew Keen. I read the review of Keen’s book in the NY Times recently and hastily sent off for a copy of the book [the book has now arrived as at the 23rd July].

The basic premise of the book is that the internet and Web 2.0 have allowed the world to be swallowed up by amateur, superficial drivel. Keen is very dismissive of the value of content generated by amateurs, whether it originates from garage bands or budding political commentators. Keen is of the opinion that real culture is being sidelined by “just cheaper, more accessible versions of vanity presses where the untalented go to purchase the veneer of publication”. I love the imagery. I will need to read the book and follow up with a more detailed analysis in a later post.

Suffice to say, I agree that there is a lot of rubbish on the web (but then again, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure). There’s also a lot of rubbish in the local library – those dog-eared Mills and Boon novels tell a story in themselves (at a local library I worked part-time in many, many years ago, the deputy librarian refused to purchase Mills and Boon novels based on her belief that just like fairy floss rots the teeth, Mills and Boon novels would rot the minds of the readers). And don’t get me started on the content bombarding the senses from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and mobile phone ring tones.

On the other hand, I am not totally convinced that just because everyone can now have a say on the web that this automatically delivers value and real democracy either. Let me ruminate on this some more.


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