Book Review: The Cult of the Amateur

Over at Speak Media Blog, a great resource for all things social web, there’s a great article about Andrew Keen’s “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture.”

To give you an idea of why his book is particularly boring, try this quote on for size: “[Web 2.0] worships the creative amateur: the self-taught filmmaker, the dorm-room musician, the unpublished writer. It suggests that everyone — even the most poorly educated and inarticulate amongst us — can and should use digital media to express and realize themselves. Web 2.0 ‘empowers’ our creativity, it ‘democratizes’ media, it ‘levels the playing field’ between experts and amateurs. The enemy of Web 2.0 is ‘elitist’ traditional media.”  Oh heavens no!  Next thing you know people with degrees in History and Poli Sci will be writing books about the internet!  Come, help me scoff at the so-called “art” of the proletariat.

For that matter, isn’t that the best part of the internet?  I love being able to see and hear the creative output of thousands of people with no budget, who would never be signed by a major label and never would have Payola to get them on the radio, people who would never get a book deal selling tons and filmmakers with a whole new canvas to go with their liberation.  Not everyone can afford NYU film school, talent or not.  The Web provides us with an unbelievable view, not into the uber-educated necessarily (although those people are certainly represented online as well).  I wonder how someone like Keen can be so displeased with the collective editing of information when the past has been riddled by books in classrooms dominated by serious biases of the authors (hence the wild popularity of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn).  Really, he’s just an opportunist: it’s always sexier to disagree with the populous on something-to criticize the great work of art-to try and make a name for yourself than it is to agree and try to innovate.

His elitist, aristocracy loving, democracy hating pandering can be read here I would get busy eviscerating the tedious, pedantic tripe that is this text, but Speak Media did a great job.  Enjoy! (and notice the reviews of the book, 198 reviews, 2.5 out of 5 stars).

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