Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is the Internet dumbing us down?

From MSNBC courtesy of AlterNet:

Keen’s original subtitle, simplified before publication, sums up his argument: How the democratization of the digital world is assaulting our economy, our culture and our values. He looks at the various user-centered Web activities that epitomize Web 2.0 — YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, blogs, file-sharing and so forth — and ties these, variously, to loss of accuracy in news and information, the declining quality of music and video, the troubled economics of the content industries and even an erosion of original thinking (as students use Google to create “cut-and-paste” term papers).

Keen’s central thesis is that user-generated content and the disaggregation of information by search engines — reducing books, magazines and newspapers to mere collections of facts — damages both economics and quality. His economic warning is the strongest element of the book: Keen worries that traditional media companies may be done in by the “cult of amateurs.” While probably not due to “amateurs,” it is indeed the case that virtually all of the old-line content producers, from encyclopedias and record companies to television, newspapers and now even pornographers, are experiencing painful business pressures as the Internet absorbs and reorders media.

Click here for the rest.

Yeah, so I listened to an interview with this Keen guy last weekend on NPR: I was taken aback at both how fucking stupid Keen is, as well as the fact that the mainstream media is actually taking what he says seriously--actually, given what amounts to a defense of the MSM, I probably shouldn't be so surprised by their favorable coverage. The political blogosphere is easily taking care of itself in terms of defense against these ludicrous assertions, but I've got to throw in a word or two about cultural media.

While Hollywood and the recording industry have brought us some great television, film, and music over the decades, their golden age is long past. Since these industries moved from small and medium sized business models to a corporate one (see here, here and here), all they've been able to give us are the likes of Justin Timberlake, American Idol, and an endless stream of shitty action-blockbusters--there are, of course, exceptions, but you get the idea. Arguing that breaking the corporate gatekeepers' choke-hold on culture is a bad thing is tantamount to tattooing the word "idiot" on one's own forehead.

Keen is a major fucktard and should not be taken seriously.