The Cult of the Amateur – now I’m really scared

The Cult of the Amateur
by Andrew Keen
Link to book

There’s no way to make this brief.

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:

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