Sunday, 29 April 2007

Blog Killer – Andrew Keen

The Observer describes Andrew Keen:

The author and entrepreneur has stunned his adopted country with a book that accuses bloggers and other evangelists for the web of destroying culture, ruining livelihoods and threatening to make consumers of new media regress into 'digital narcissism'.

and another blog (Warrior Lawyer) quotes Keen:

If we keep up this pace, there will be over five hundred million blogs by 2010, collectively corrupting and confusing popular opinion about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture. Blogs have become so dizzyingly infinite, that they’ve undermined our sense of what is true and what is false, what is real and what is imaginary. These days, kids can’t tell the difference between credible news by objective professional journalists and what they read on

This is strong criticism but he isn’t against blogs per se - he can’t be because he blogs – but he is against them being written by those with nothing interesting to write and little expertise to write it. Again, The Observer quotes Keen:

I'm nostalgic for the world I grew up in where there was a clear distinction between author and audience. I'm not attracted or impressed by the idea of collapsing that distinction. It's hard to be good at what you're doing, it requires expertise. In the same way that not everyone should be doctors or teachers or astronauts, not everyone should be an author. Most people do not have anything interesting to say.

Lots of people play football at a wide range of abilities. Would Keen suggest that only those considered expert footballers should be allowed to play?

Keen’s views are very traditional: news from newspapers and TV news; films from major film companies, music from major music companies; books from major publishers. There is no place for the independent. Keen is comfortable in this hierarchical world because he is an expert and acknowledged as such.

Of course, lots of blogs have little to say, are poorly written and are read by few but, in a way, that is the whole point of blogging. We all find our own level: the topics in which we are interested, the topics on which we write; the blogs we read. I don’t blog to be viewed as an expert – just as well!. I don’t blog to get x hits a day – just as well! I blog because I enjoy the blogging experience –writing, reading, commenting, debating and arguing if need be. I started blogging because I always wanted to comment on … whatever and I’m not disciplined enough to do this on my pc. Only by knowing it’s going on the web to be seen by a few people can I be sure that I’ll do it. I’ve found blogs I love and read and blogs I hate but still read. I am finding my level. Enjoyment, that’s why I do it What better reason could there be?

Keen dislikes blogs like mine for another reason: he worries about culture being destroyed. Again, I think Keen doesn’t understand. Culture comes from all of us; it changes. We’re allowed to change culture because it’s ours. Culture isn’t the sole preserve of the experts: they’re part of it but no more. In a comment to another expert’s blog, Keen said (Comment 2):

Question: would we be any the poorer if, instead of 70 million blogs, we had none? In other words, what have blogs done for civilization recently?

Must everything we do have an effect on civilisation? I better review my life for its effect on civilisation because I might need to kill myself if I can find no positive effect.

Because Keen has taken an extreme position his book will sell – there’s a surprise! – but like many experts he appears so convinced of his correctness that his ears have now disconnected from his brain.

The bottom line is that Keen wants only the elite to be visible. Common “man” has no purpose other than to support and do the bidding of the elite. You’re too late, Andrew, common “man” is marching ahead and you’re being left behind.

Note: Another excellent blog on this subject is here.

1 comment:

  1. I am 100% with Andrew Keen on this issue. Ever since people began watching reality TV and believed they too could be the star. Ever since we started dropping ecstasy tablets and getting off on ourselves on the dance floor as opposed to a band on a stage with shit hot musicians. Ever since we started believing that Jackass 2 was worthy of belonging in the canon of great cinema as opposed to Godard, Bergman and Scorsese.
    society has forgotten how to defer to real talent, learned talent, sweated over professional talent.
    I know this because the kids that I teach do not actually understand anymore what actually requires talent. They think in this post modern guff of a world that a text message is as worthy of analysis as Shakespeare. Spare me! Bring on elitism I say. Bring it on because the world is so full of bland garbage and there is no awe in the presence of greatness anymore. And blog sites....well just lots of people talkin' loud and sayin' nothin'. In love with the banality of their own opinion. I generalize of course but Andrew Keen has struck a chord with this little black duck.