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Amateur Internet

Globe and Mail Update

Andrew Keen took your questions ...Read the full article

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  1. Brian Brown from london, Canada writes: Your comments sound like they come from an individual that wants to protect his priveleged position as a 'cultural elite' and from someone that is scared that this position of power is being undermined by the ability of the general public to add their own opinions to the conversation. What is so heinously wrong with people being able to contribute to the dialog regarding what is culturally worthwhile or 'valuable?' Why should we leave it up to an elite class of media critics/commentators to decide what it is that we want to read/hear/watch when it is possible for the public to determine their tastes on their own? As well, your comment regarding the definition of 'culture' based on business and economic interests is simplistic. Can you elaborate on the inter-related relationship between business interests and culture and how this relationship serves the public interest? As well, the web 2.0 environment places a great deal of trust in the intelligence of the public. Personally, I am much more willing to trust someone whose interests are not based on economic advantage and/or personal career advancement. Why is it that you believe that a plethora of voices will result in an impoverished or 'flat' culture as opposed to a diversified and much more representative example of culture for the people and by the people? Thanks for your time, Brian.
  2. Keith who is from Ottawa, Canada writes: I don't agree that the internet is the death of culture. I think it's more of a rebirth. Traditional media is a one-way format. People are told what to think and the traditional media serve traditional commercial interests. The internet is a two-way exchange between media and media consumers. I don't think this is a bad thing. It's bad for traditional media interests that are too slow to adapt, but good for democratic debate and the population in general. The internet is proving to be an invaluable tool to dissidents in all sorts of different countries. The internet makes it harder for traditional media to dominate and direct public opinion and frame debate. This phenomenon will only accelerate as the internet becomes more widespread.
  3. gordon mcpherson from Ottawa, Canada writes: Although in its infancy, the internet appears to be creating a new 'connected' global culture at the 'Peoples' level..."the Medium is the Message"...that McClure never imagined...where the People can instantaneously communicate on the wheelings and dealings of the power greedy 'bourgeoisie' and their badly educated lackies? "We got the numbers, come-on". What'da think?
  4. Marco from Alberta from Canada writes: I agree with the two previous posts in that the Internet is a great new medium for communication and not the death of culture as Andrew suggests. One great aspect of the internet is that it provides for collaboration and open communication which allows for true innovation to occur. In the past, publishing an article could take years while publishing and sharing information requires only the click of a mouse. With the speed of the information, people become more connected and true innovation and collaboration can occur. As the book Wikinomics by Don Tapscott points out, the wisdom of the crowd is powerful and not something to be feared. Whether you like it or not, open source collaboration is here to stay. If you have something worthwhile to say instead of sitting high in your throne and writing books, I suggest you bring yourself down to the level of the people and write a blog.
  5. Keith who is from Ottawa, Canada writes: I agree with some of the concerns that Andrew Keen shares. But I think he falls off the mark a bit. I've seen many books advertized on the internet that I later bought, books I never would have bought or heard about if it were not for the web. I agree that music downloads are affecting the music industry, but I don't agree that this is necessarily a bad thing. Bands will sell fewer records, for sure, so they'll have to make that up in other ways by touring more and getting closer to their fan base. I think the record industry was/is bad for culture. Have you listened to the radio in the last 20 years or so? All you hear is the same top 30, over and over again. I can go on the internet and get hip-hop from Nigeria, reggae from Jamaica, rap from Haiti. There's so much more access to stuff you would never have even seen in your lifetime 20 years ago. I blame the record industry for the problems with the record industry. They have been taking advantage of people, assuming they would always come back for seconds of their bland, generic crap for too long. I still do buy CD's, but now I buy them after I know what is on them, so I only buy what I like, not what some corporation thinks I might like or what I might settle for. The internet has made it easier for smaller groups or international groups to get their music out, which makes going on tour more profitable. Now an artist in Brazil can have an audience in Canada and he/she doesn't have to pass through the media gatekeepers to get to them. Traditional media will live on in other forms. People will still want cultural leaders and media elites to guide them. The internet just means that people aren't as captive to those media elites as they once were. As for traditional newspapers, it's alot cheaper to publish on-line and alot less wasteful than delivering a bundle of newsprint to the front door every morning. Newspapers get most of their money through ads anyways, this is just as easily done online.
  6. gordon mcpherson from Ottawa, Canada writes: Furthermore, you state: "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture that a writhing mass of amateur content threatens to eclipse more important information found online. "...aside from just blogging, and anyone can blog which is a good thing, how you choose or what you choose to read is up to the individual, naturally. How do you know what else we ALL read in addition to blogs and articles? And if the elite is so smart why is the planet dieing a slow death like it is? Evil greed... It is time for drastic world change and the sooner the better, not the maintenance of the status quo. The internet may assist in this endeavour if it is used for the good of humanity. There is so much information available to everyone on-line than there used to be we are goig spiritual collectively! Hopefully, the masses will increasingly become knowledeable to the detriment of the greedy and powerful. The meek shall inherit the Earth, hopefully, in good time before we lose it. And to think a newspaper would never hire me...
  7. Paul who is from Vancouver, Canada writes: .
    Andrew Keen: "we need to defend (and pay for) the traditional institutions of mainstream media."

    "I can't imagine life without the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Can you?"

    QUESTION: "If you are against the Internet, why do you keep a blog, and engage in online discussions?"

    ANSWER: "Why do I keep a blog and do forums like this? To promote the sales of my book."

    Any final thoughts?:

    "I didn't do this out of love for Canada or even my affection for your lovely Mathew Ingram. I'm promoting my book, which pays my rent."

    Anyone who thinks that YouTube is about exploding Coke bottles isn't worth reading.

    The 20th century is gone. Get over it.
  8. Mr Fijne from Calgary, Canada writes: It is precisely because main stream media and the elite do not do their job -which is discovering new talents, artists, not merely promoting cliches and salesmen dreams- that the internet is busy with many many amateurs or professionals who try to get their voice heard. Sure many are just amateurs and that is fine. But there are professional artists that are ignored, ostracized by lazy media critics who would praise any name as long as it is pre-recognized for them.
    Just as in the stock market where crappy companies exists, there are gems that perhaps your highness should bother to discover not condemn!
  9. Luke P from Vancouver, Canada writes: His last sentence is a perfect example of the "cultural elite" in practice:

    "But a free culture is a dead culture".

    Culture has always been a product of the rich. Because Culture has always cost money, only those who can afford to, participate. Those who have no disposable income to buy TVs or attend movies or walk through art galleries have limited means through which to consume Culture, and therefore have little or no say in its composition or development.

    The Internet is a mechanism that begins to remove these barriers (not to say they don't exist - but free, public internet access is available in a lot of places). The number of Culture consumers increases, and now involves many more economic and social demographics than traditional media ever did.
  10. Byron Heppner from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Sorry to disagree with most of the posts here, but I agree with Andrew Keen. I don't surf the Internet much because I find it to be a huge waste of time--the only way to get reliable information about a specific topic is to go through a "gatekeeper" website, like Wikipedia, (yes, I know it is user generated, but that's beside the point) or an established news site. Otherwise you end up with Joe Blow's analysis of why the war in Iraq is such a quagmire, or some partisan site spinning a story out of all recognition. All you have to do is look at the posts on the G&M on any controversial story, and you can see the level of commentary--name calling, accusations of unthinking party loyalty, reflexive assumptions that one politician or another is the cause of all the world's ills. There is some valuable dialogue, but the gems get buried under a pile of rants.
  11. Luke P from Vancouver, Canada writes: "gordon mcpherson from Ottawa, Canada writes: ......that McClure never imagined......"

    That's "McLuhan".
  12. nathan w from China writes: I'm very surprised that Andrew Keen supposes that the end of the music recording industry or print media is an attack on culture.

    The recording industry all too often puts out over-produced that is garbage. Someone made a point the other day that music would be better with the four track. I think the advantages of digital recording are numerous, not the least of which is the affordable cost and easily putting a lot of recording and production potential in the hands of artists who have the world at their fingertips on the net. I don't think the established recording industry will crumble so easily, but there is no doubt in my mind that the digital age and the internet empower musicians and have the net effect of promoting independent and original music which allows REAL culture to reach people rather than the packaged garbage that all too often comes out of the recording industry.

    I have similar thoughts about some of the print industry, with respect to the way that the capacity to blog, etc, empowers people's expressions and broadens our capacity to engage in cultural dialogue in a way that has never existed until today. However, I do acknowledge that the existence of large media institutions also provides benefits, in that, for example, the Globe and Mail or any of numerous other fairly credible media sources can put an enormous amount of fairly reliable information in one place, whereas the capacity of individuals to organize credible information may be less. BUT, I don't think that's culture, per se. Culture is expression and I don't think it has much to do with the reliability of what's being presented.

    In short, I think Keen's definition of culture as the recording industry and traditional media is absolute rubbish. I do not think that traditional media will fall apart in short order, and I think that the internet is an active and important vector in the dissemination of (digital) cultural objects.

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