I know it hasn’t been that long since I took a few roundhouse swings at Andrew Keen, the sometime entrepreneur and “social critic,” who wrote about the Google-YouTube deal and how it was like two thieves uniting. But I just came across a post promoting his new book, entitled “The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking, and the Digital World are Assaulting our Economy, Culture and Values,” and it just sounds so mind-bogglingly stupid I couldn’t help myself. This makes Nicholas Carr sound sane.
The cover of the book has an hourglass (the kind that you see when your computer is busy) because, Andrew explains:
There’s not much time left, that symbolic hourglass suggests, until our whole culture is swept away by the dire consequences of Web 2.0 egalitarianism.
and then he adds:
We are teering on the edge of catastrophe. Blogs, wikis and social networking are, indeed, assaulting our economy, our culture and our values. Web 2.0 is pushing us back into the Dark Ages.
In other places, Andrew has held forth this apocalyptic view as well, saying:
Web 2.0 undermines conventional expertise and moral authority in favor of the authenticity of the ordinary blogger, digital photographer or musician. But the truth of this “authenticity” is the cacophonous din of ephemera: The self-authored content on the contemporary Internet is either irreverent, narcissistic or pornographic.
Boy. Thank God there’s someone like Andrew standing up for the movie studios and record companies and society in general. We wouldn’t want to encourage people to express themselves, or (God forbid) be irreverent. For more samples of what I would loosely refer to as Andrew’s “thinking” on this subject, check out an interview/debate he took part in with Chris “Long Tail” Anderson, organized by the SF Gate.
My M-list pal Kent Newsome calls Andrew a classic example of what basketball players call a “self-check.”