On Wednesday The Hollywood Reporter ran an article by Andrew Wallenstein criticizing Andrew Keen’s upcoming book, “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture”, to be published in June. For those of you unfamiliar with this upcoming book, Keen argues that user-generated content is overwhelming traditional media, the eventual consequence of which will be that “quality” content shall disappear among a sea of poor and/or false consumer content.
I look forward to reading this book so that I can make my own judgments without the filter of subjectivity from another commentator. Wallenstein’s criticism, however, is echoed by the Publisher’s Weekly blurb quoted on Amazon.com, perhaps adding more credence (at least Wallenstein is not a lone objector). My own gut reaction to what I’ve seen so far is disagreement. Regardless, it is worthwhile to comment now on the question as a whole, even if discussion as to the specific arguments laid out needs to wait.
I believe technology has a democratizing effect that is ultimately good for society. It takes the power of out the hands of the few and puts it into the hands of the many. Why should only those with money be able to dictate what the rest see and hear, and thus potentially influence how the rest think?
What is occurring with the Internet and content (both video and otherwise) reflects what has already happened with the digital video revolution in filmmaking. One frequent argument against the influx of DV was that a lot more garbage would be made, since money was no longer a major obstacle to entering the filmmaking market. Such an argument ignores the fact that a diamond in the rough that might never have been otherwise produced due to the high-cost of shooting on film could now be made. In the long run, quality always seems to rise to the top, no matter how large the sea of mediocrity from which it has to rise. Big media does not necessarily equate with quality or veracity (e.g. schlock mega-flops and falsified news reports) anymore than consumer content necessarily equates with garbage or rumors and lie. The virtues of quality and truth can be found anywhere. In fact, they are all the more likely to arise when more people are capable of creating and/or seeking them.
The ultimate irony of this book is that Keen is a former dot-com entrepreneur, and Wallenstein writes for The Hollywood Reporter, which, for the most part, covers big media. One must wonder if Keen’s book is a case of the scientist realizing just how dangerous the monster is that he has created… or a case of the young growing old, the liberal becoming conservative, or, most insidious, the old guard paying off the new. It’s very easy to turn against your own road to fortune once you’ve already profited from it.Go at PortableACNerd.com to learn more.