Via the Globe and Mail: ‘Amateur' charge infuriates blogosphere. Excerpt:
Internet culture, often portrayed as the vanguard of progress, is actually a jungle peopled by intellectual yahoos and digital thieves, according to a Silicon Valley entrepreneur-turned-dissenter.
Andrew Keen, a 47-year-old Briton who founded dot-com era music startup Audiocafe, argues that basic notions of expertise are under assault amid a cultural shift in favour of the amateurism of blogs, MySpace and other popularity-driven sites.
"Millions and millions of exuberant monkeys ... are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity," Keen writes in a book published Tuesday.
His views have infuriated bloggers and others, especially in Silicon Valley, who argue he is an elitist intellectual, a conservative pining for a return to old ways, and a writer who cannot keep his facts straight.
The villains in Keen's narrative are a "pajama army" of mostly anonymous writers who spread gossip and scandal, "intellectual kleptomaniacs," who search Google to copy others' work and the "digital thieves" of media content in the post-Napster era.
For a technology industry used to basking in the glow of self-promotion, Keen's work is shocking for its unforgiving view of Silicon Valley's utopian aspirations.
The book "is designed as a grenade," Keen, a native of north London who now lives in California, said at a recent debate with bloggers and journalists in Berkeley. "It is not designed to be particularly fair or balanced."
The title of his polemic, "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture," attacks what he calls the "cut and paste" ethic of Web users, who he says are robbing professionals of their livelihoods.
The Web allows anyone to post their most intimate thoughts, views or even outright lies, without any editing, under the assumption that the crowd will correct any mistakes. Keen calls for efforts to balance out the Web's powers of instant publishing against society's need for accountability.
Here is Keen's own blog. I'll post a link to it in the Web Writers and Editors list.