Saturday, August 18, 2007

Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur

According to Andrew Keen's new book, The Cult of the Amateur, it is necessary to have elitism when it comes to the dispensation and dissemination of news and information on the internet. Keen maintains that the internet has done nothing but allow everyone to blog, express their opinions, and spread information as they see fit, without being held to any kind of journalistic standard.

While I do agree that the 'relativization of knowledge,' as a result of facile 'googlization of information' is indeed troubling, the upside of Web 2.0 is that it provides a platform on which education may indeed occur.

However, while in the past the powers that be were easily identifiable, what we encounter nowadays is a 'curse of anonymity' of sorts i.e., not knowing who asserts what. And this is a point I wholeheartedly agree with. The full disclosure of one's identity might allow for more responsible reporting on the internet.

Keen’s premise is one of fundamental elitism. He seems to maintain that he knows how to read information, he knows how to read Wikipedia, for instance, as opposed to Britannica but that the majority of people might not have that inherent and informed savvy he owns by virtue of him being a professional writer and one who makes a living by writing.

While I do agree with Keen that the internet does attract much nonsense, an informed user is one who teaches her/himself how to do a search and how to problematize and check the information she/he encounters in cyber space. Media literacy is a necessary thing and one that needs to be encouraged and fed.

Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur could be worth a read.


danny said...

I love wikipedia.

Truth is a democracy.

B.R. said...

Right. Andrew Keen's book is simply encouraging people to problematize information and check it for accuracy. I fully support that premise.

Anonymous said...

how can people who don't go to an institution of higher learning become media-literate, then?

B.R. said...

There are as many forms of education as there are moments in time.