Andrew Keen‘s The Cult of the Amateur; How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture is getting a lot of attention from usually quiet corners of the web, and I’ve had to quell the urge to write a story under the headline “Andrew Keen Tells YouTubers to Eat Spinach.”
Keen’s argument rests on the belief that “culture” is the sole provence of established media, and falls flat as soon as you get past the bombast of the subtitle. Our consumer relationship with culture is a recent development that has done great harm to us. Culture is participatory, messy, and resilient.
And that’s pretty much exactly how it played out on KCRW‘s To The Point (listen), which invited Keen along with anti-Wikipedian Larry Sanger to take up the issue with Xeni Jardin and NYU prof Clay Shirky.
Keen is right to doubt Web 2.0 proponents who suggest technology will solve the world’s problems (it never did, it’s unlikely it ever will), but Jardin and Shirky didn’t argue that. The real issue isn’t technology, it’s the growing clash of control vs. anarchy as described in Siva Vaidhyanathan‘s The Anarchist In The Library. Well, that and the fact that the internet is still rather immature, even if it’s regularly used by a majority of Americans.