A Bad Book

Trying to follow everything written on amateur culture, I’ve ordered a book by Andrew Keen The Cult of the Amateur.

It is a text, written by a person who hates amateurs and loves mainstream media. He uses the word amateur as a synonym for uneducated, lazy anonymous, internet addicted persons, monkeys with typewriters, who are mostly “sexual predators and pedophiles”. Mainstream media means just culture (in all fairness, he talks only about American culture, but again, for some reason, he sees American culture as a model).

He ridicules Kevin Kelly, Chris Anderson, Jimmy Wales, Tim O’Reilly, Sergey Brin and other web 2.0 magnates — however not for their exploitation of the amateur workforce, but to sully amateurs, deprecate their role and contrast them with real experts (Britannica consultants, Times’ reporters, Bob Dylan — this stronghold of culture is especially dear to the author.)

In short, as he says on the last page of the book:

3.gif (p.214)

Lawrence Lessig commented to this statement:

Here’s a book — Keen’s — that has passed through all the rigor of modern American publishing, yet which is perhaps as reliable as your average blog post: No doubt interesting, sometimes well written, lots of times ridiculously over the top — but also riddled with errors.

In fact, the book is not only ideologically ridiculous, but also full of mistakes and misinterpretations of web 2.0, web in general and cultural phenomena of the last centuries. To write “I can’t scarcely conceive of […] Mozart letting his listeners rewrite his operas and concertos” means to ignore that Mozart himself was “remixing” works of other composers (for example, by adapting them for the piano, a new instrument at that time) and was “remixed” by other composers, as they re-arranged his work. This was a part of high music culture, long before recorded music existed.

So, why was I reading this bad book till the end? Because i thought: the book is so bad, there must be a lot of car metaphors inside. But the book is so so bad, that there was only one. Keen’s reaction to Kelly’s proposal to have all texts for free because there is no longer a way to protect copyright. Keen writes:

It is a bit like saying that because our car might get stolen, we should leave it unlocked with the keys in the ignition and the driver’s-side door open, to usher would-be thieves on their way. (p. 116)

Thank you very much, South Carolina.

2 Responses to “A Bad Book”

  1. nasty nets » moral responsibility Says:

    […] I could not resist — olia  8/29/07 6:49 am   […]

  2. SM Says:

    the amateur’s real moral responsibility is to protect the cult against our mainstream media because they don’t know know responsibility when they see it.

    p.s.- have you seen paperrad.org

    keep up the tight fight

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