Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur

I just posted this five-star review on of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture by Andrew Keen:

There's so much received wisdom already about Web 2.0 -- so many people who have already staked out turf, and announced that THIS is the way it's going to be -- that it's very refreshing, and very thought provoking, to see a new take on all this. William Gibson once said that the job of the science-fiction writer (which is what both he and I do for a living) is to be profoundly ambivalent about changes in science and technology. To date, we've had way too much on the plus side of blogging, Wikipedia, Facebook, and, yes,, with very few countervailing voices. You may not agree with everything Keen says -- I certainly don't myself, although I do agree with a lot of it -- but, despite the cult-of-the-amateur approach to most reviewing these days ("I agree with the author" = five stars; "I disagree with the author" = one star -- although Keen doesn't cite this specific example), this book is well-researched, passionately argued, copiously footnoted, and compulsively readable. I recommend it highly.

For more on The Cult of the Amateur, see here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At June 16, 2007 3:16 PM , Blogger Simon Pole said...

One of the most perceptive critics of Web 2.0 is actually a Canadian -- Tim Slee who is the author of No One Makes You Shop at Wal Mart.

Earlier this year he wrote a fifteen part criticism of Web 2.0 holy book "The Long Tail" on his blog. This series is more cogent and well-argued than what I've heard Keen saying in the media, which seems to suffer from some hyperbole.

Perhaps the distance from Silicon Valley offers some perspective.

At June 16, 2007 3:21 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Simon. Thank you for that link!

Speaking to the media is a very specific skill, and often the effect of it is to turn what one says in print with sophistication into a caricature. I haven't seen Keen interviewed yet, but having done almost 500 radio and TV interviews myself, I'm very sympathetic to how hard it can be to get a complex idea across as a sound byte. :)


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