The Cult of the Amateur

The Cult of the Amateur

How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture

Book - 2007 | 1st ed
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Amateur hour has arrived, and the audience is running the show In a hard-hitting and provocative polemic, Silicon Valley insider and pundit Andrew Keen exposes the grave consequences of today's new participatory Web 2.0 and reveals how it threatens our values, economy, and ultimately the very innovation and creativity that forms the fabric of American achievement. Our most valued cultural institutions, Keen warns--our professional newspapers, magazines, music, and movies--are being overtaken by an avalanche of amateur, user-generated free content. Advertising revenue is being siphoned off by free classified ads on sites like Craigslist; television networks are under attack from free user-generated programming on YouTube and the like; file-sharing and digital piracy have devastated the multibillion-dollar music business and threaten to undermine our movie industry. Worse, Keen claims, our "cut-and-paste" online culture--in which intellectual property is freely swapped, downloaded, remashed, and aggregated--threatens over 200 years of copyright protection and intellectual property rights, robbing artists, authors, journalists, musicians, editors, and producers of the fruits of their creative labors. In today's self-broadcasting culture, where amateurism is celebrated and anyone with an opinion, however ill-informed, can publish a blog, post a video on YouTube, or change an entry on Wikipedia, the distinction between trained expert and uninformed amateur becomes dangerously blurred. When anonymous bloggers and videographers, unconstrained by professional standards or editorial filters, can alter the public debate and manipulate public opinion, truth becomes a commodity to be bought, sold, packaged, and reinvented. The very anonymity that the Web 2.0 offers calls into question the reliability of the information we receive and creates an environment in which sexual predators and identity thieves can roam free. While no Luddite--Keen pioneered several Internet startups himself--he urges us to consider the consequences of blindly supporting a culture that endorses plagiarism and piracy and that fundamentally weakens traditional media and creative institutions. Offering concrete solutions on how we can rein in the free-wheeling, narcissistic atmosphere that pervades the Web, THE CULT OF THE AMATEUR is a wake-up call to each and every one of us.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385520805 (hardcover : alk. paper)
0385520808 (hardcover : alk. paper)
Branch Call Number: 303.4833 KEE
Characteristics: 228 p. ; 22 cm

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Mar 14, 2015

Relevant book but has five years since it's publication been proven to be incorrect in predictions and observations. The internet isn't killing our culture. It's only changing it.

Dec 09, 2009

The only useful part of this book is the last 1/4-about lack of privacy and security in modern digital era.
The first 3/4- outcry about the fact that old business schemes cannot bring income to the copyright holders anymore.
I thought it will be more about us, average Joe and Kate, whos lives unwillingly suffer from non-professional content in the syber space.
But the whole book exept couple last chapters-apology of 200 years old business schemes and outdated copyright laws. Why do we care if they don't want to change and to adapt to modern world?

By using the same logic, we would still have to use horse drawn carriages instead of automobiles, because equine, vet, coach and harnessmaking industries will suffer, close their doors and lay out people. And yeah, you cannot drive a horse carriage yourself-you are an amateur. You should hire a professional to do that.

Not a deep digging into subject.

Rick Stomphorst
Oct 05, 2009

Admittedly and ironically, this very book review is EXACTLY the type of amateurish dribble Cult of the Amateur states is saturating the Internet, watering-down our culture. I'm NOT a professional book reviewer, yet you're reading this and based on how well I wrote it (did I actually write this?) or my hidden motives (the author could be my friend) you'll choose to read it or not (which could be my intention). Also, I've spent my valuable time writing this book review for no monetary value to myself (at least that you're aware of).

Cult of the Amateur provides an awakening perspective in to the underbelly of Web 2.0. Keen's prime argument is the presumed collective intelligence of the masses DOESN'T outweigh that of an accredited expert, that Web 2.0 allows us to circumvent our practices of allowing experts and talent to bubble to the top, that *anyone* now can be perceived as being an expert, that the line between online consumer and publisher is now indistinguishable (1 unique channel for everyone), and that the potential loss of experts will have long-term damaging effect on our economy, culture and society.

The most striking example was of a renowned international global warming expert (by traditional standards), Dr. William Connolley, banished from Wikipedia after he repeatedly tried to correct inaccuracies in the global warming entry posted by an aggressive anonymous wikipedia editor. The Doctor was accused of "strongly pushing his POV (point of view) with systematic removal of any POV that does not match his own". Dr. Connelley was put on editorial parole (limited to one entry per day). When Connelley challenged this with Wikipedia, the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee gave no weight to his international recognized credibility. For all we know, his anonymous foe was me (disclaimer: my SMEise on the topic is solely derived from An Inconvenient Truth). Everyone can now be an expert. How do we balance the necessity of having SMEs against the need for everyone to be heard? In the Web 2.0 world, the crowd has become the authority over what is true or not. Stephen Colbert did a wonderful satire on the democracy of truth of Wikipedia here:

I learned a significant amount of blogs are being programmatically created to support one persons perspective, repeatedly hyperlinking or cross-linking back to the original blog/story, therefore elevating that "story" to the top of the search engine's findings, thereby manipulating Google's search results ("Google bombing"). Don't believe it? Insert "miserable failure" in to Google.

Cable/sat/TiVo companies are recording every movie you're ever ordered, watched on their boxes, or searched for on their boxes. LinkedIn knows all your business relationships, Facebook is recording all your friends and conversations between them, Twitter knows the type of people you like to associate with, Google is recording *every* search you every conducted. Is the big brother of Orwell's 1984 Web 2.0?

Read this. You need this perspective.

Stephen Colbert interviews Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales:" (Updated 1 second ago)


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