Earlier this month, the WSJ published what has been widely criticized in the blogosphere as an inaccurate history of blogging (e.g., Scoble’s response to it). Newspapers, magazines, and television programs regularly print/broadcast retractions and corrections. And sometimes we get a full-blown scandal like “Rathergate.” Meanwhile there are extremely talented and disciplined journalists, commentators, and entertainers actively producing high quality content and distributing their work through the same channels as amateur producers (blogs, YouTube, etc.).
Andrew Keen (author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture), romanticizes about mass media culture and deifies the professional media. He says that amateur media is leading us toward a society without broadly available professional music, accurate news, or intelligent debate. He says today’s Internet is killing our culture. He is wrong. Today’s Internet is disrupting our culture. The Internet has empowered those who care to find ways to satisfy their information and entertainment desires beyond the McDrivel that has been pushed at us by the mass media.
Today’s Internet also contains an obscene amount of drivel, no doubt about that. We are still going through growing pains as the ways of finding and filtering information catch up with the content explosion. And we are in need of new systems for establishing credibility and acknowledging cultural authority. But the genie is out of the bottle. There is no going back to the old media paradigm.
Please note that I have *not* read The Cult of the Amateur. I recently heard Keen interviewed on CBC Radio (Canadian public radio) and more recently watched his session with Dave Weinberger at Supernova 2007. That was enough exposure for me. I don’t buy into his basic premise so I won’t bother with his book.