I saw a very interesting article in The Sunday Times this week, by Bryan Appleyard about the nature of the web and blogging in particular.
It seems the backlash has begun. According to some, the dream of a democratized participatory utopia has been shattered by the reality of the blogosphere, which, in the view of Jonathan Freeland is â€œa claustrophobic environment, appealing chiefly to a certain kind of aggressive, point-scoring male â€” and utterly off-putting to everyone elseâ€.
Andrew Keen, in his forthcoming book The Cult of the Amateur: How Todays Internet Is Killing Our Culture is similarly dismissive of and concerned about – Web 2.0; ‘Truth’ is being flattened, as we create an on-demand, personalized version of the truth, reflecting our own individual myopia. The undermining of truth is threatening the quality of public discourse, encouraging plagiarism and intellectual property theft and stifling creativity.
As usual, The Simpsons managed to sum the whole thing up perfectly. In an episode called Fraudcast News, Lisa starts a newspaper to get the truth out against a corrupt media. Others in Springfield follow and soon everyone has their own newspaper, prompting Homer to comment, “See Lisa. Instead of one big-shot controlling all the media, now there’s a thousand freaks Xeroxing their worthless opinions.”
The citizen-journalist dream was propounded in The Cluetrain Manifesto: the End of Business as Usual. Andrew Keen is especially unimpressed by Cluetrain’s 95 Theses, many of which he dismisses as â€œopaquely childish. Having read them, I find I have to agree. Here’s number 74 for example; We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.
Bless. People are always telling me they’re immune to advertising, as though they are, in some way, superior to the rest of society, operating on a higher plane. I always ask these higher beings what cars they drive. If they really were ‘immune to advertising’ they should be driving, say, a Toyota Corolla or a Skoda. Needless to say they are invariably drawn to the same sexy, heavily advertised brands as the rest of us. Funny that!
Continue reading “It’s amateur hour’ but let’s not panic”