New Medias New Favorite Bad Guy

Democratization vs Professional Mainstream Media I’m in the audience watching a debate moderated by Dan Farber of ZDNet/CNET, with Bill Cleary (an anthropologist), Justin Kan (a live TV station 24/7), and Andrew Keen (an author). The basic battle being put forth is: blogging, flickr, videoblogs, podcasts, and the like are undercutting quality media, journalism, entertainment, etc. Keen’s argument is that every time we blog, a smarter better journalist dies.

In his book, THE CULT OF THE AMATEUR, Keen goes after most everyone I’ve met in the last 7 months. His book is a polemic, a hand grenade. He’s shoving this in the maw of the Kool-Aid drinking Web 2.0 world. He KNOWS it’s bombastic, and he’s playing the role very well.

Justin Kan held his own. Hes a smart, articulate conversant. His point was that everyone will want to watch people they know, and that some will rise to the top, and some will stay the audience of five or six. It’s a great point.

Bill Cleary, the anthropologist, made some AMAZING points and helped shape the human perspective. Having him there gave the experience a little less of a feel of this being an opinion piece. Instead, there was a wonderful sense of this conversation in the human scale.

I covered the real-time back and forth a bit on Twitter, and found it interesting. I think Keen’s made several points that are interesting.

We haven’t read the book, any of us. We can’t just accept any of this as granted. I read a blurb on Amanda Chapel’s blog, and I’ve spoken with Keen. I think there’s a big difference between what we know about his stance, and what we conjecture.

That said, what do YOU think about the following statements, as “imagined” to be in this conversation:

  • Bloggers are un-edited, unprofessional, and amateurish, and this harms the value.
  • Who wants to watch all this YouTube and personal media? Why are people watching Justin.tv?
  • Is there a hybrid that will more likely make this work out?

What’s YOUR take?

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  • Anonymous

    It’s not an either/or situation. All successful media of the past continue to exist as new technology and methods of media develop. We still have theatre and poetry which goes back before recorded history. Radio and Film are still vibrant though their demise was predicted. The current media of one to many, editorial information will continue to exist. But it will be a competitor with tools that allow anyone to filter and edit media for themselves.

  • http://www.mobasoft.com Michael Bailey

    I watched it live via Justin.TV and I think that Keen came across as a whiney little boy who is
    A) Clueless about the Internet, and
    B) Worried that his job is in jeopardy

  • http://cirne.com Enric

    It’s not an either/or situation. All successful media of the past continue to exist as new technology and methods of media develop. We still have theatre and poetry which goes back before recorded history. Radio and Film are still vibrant though their demise was predicted. The current media of one to many, editorial information will continue to exist. But it will be a competitor with tools that allow anyone to filter and edit media for themselves.

  • http://www.mobasoft.com Michael Bailey

    I watched it live via Justin.TV and I think that Keen came across as a whiney little boy who is
    A) Clueless about the Internet, and
    B) Worried that his job is in jeopardy

  • http://linkedin.com/in/danieljohnsonjr Daniel Johnson, Jr.

    “Keen’s argument is that every time we blog, a smarter better journalist dies.”

    Smarter, better, according to whom? Him?

    I’ve felt like most bloggers are way more approachable than most journalists. I think the rawness of it is what I’ve been attracted to. Too often I feel that journalists tow the company/party line, while bloggers are less restricted.

    My $0.02.

  • http://linkedin.com/in/danieljohnsonjr Daniel Johnson, Jr.

    “Keen’s argument is that every time we blog, a smarter better journalist dies.”

    Smarter, better, according to whom? Him?

    I’ve felt like most bloggers are way more approachable than most journalists. I think the rawness of it is what I’ve been attracted to. Too often I feel that journalists tow the company/party line, while bloggers are less restricted.

    My $0.02.

  • http://www.beachwalks.tv Shane Robinson

    I thought it was interesting when Keen said he needed editors in order to make him a better writer. To give his work a semblance of professionalism.

    I think he is trying to be a catalyst and stir up controversy to sell his book. And he’ll probably do a good job. I now want to read it just to seee how wrong he is.

    But I think, based on his comments and reading between the lines, he’s actually lacking self-confidence and doesn’t believe in his own abilities as a writer and certainly doesn’t believe in his talents as an unedited blogger. He places the responsibility on someone else — his editors, the government — to make us all better “citizens.” And that’s just not what the self-publishing revolution is about.

  • http://www.beachwalks.tv Shane Robinson

    I thought it was interesting when Keen said he needed editors in order to make him a better writer. To give his work a semblance of professionalism.

    I think he is trying to be a catalyst and stir up controversy to sell his book. And he’ll probably do a good job. I now want to read it just to seee how wrong he is.

    But I think, based on his comments and reading between the lines, he’s actually lacking self-confidence and doesn’t believe in his own abilities as a writer and certainly doesn’t believe in his talents as an unedited blogger. He places the responsibility on someone else — his editors, the government — to make us all better “citizens.” And that’s just not what the self-publishing revolution is about.

  • http://jaymoonah.com/blog/ Jay Moonah

    Enric is right on the money.

    * Bloggers are un-edited, unprofessional, and amateurish, and this harms the value.

    Isn’t that like saying the existence of a million crappy street musicians harms the value of Radiohead? The cream still raises, in fact it’s probably easier to find the cream now because the opportunity to be heard is increasingly not limited by access to the means of production, the 20th century version of the class systems of old. It’s not just about the elite anymore, and throughout history that’s always been a good thing in the end.

    * Who wants to watch all this YouTube and personal media? Why are people watching Justin.tv?

    If people are watching Justin.tv, it’s because it’s interesting/funny/informative/whatever. The same reason people watch or don’t watch anything.

    * Is there a hybrid that will more likely make this work out?

    We have a hybrid, it’s called personal choice. I can get one of 4 paid and 2 free daily newspapers here in Toronto, or read the websites of any of the same. I can turn on the TV here at 6 pm and watch one of 4 different local news broadcasts, or get part or all of (some of) those brodcasts via various Internet and TV timeshifted options after the fact. Or, I can choose to dial up some video on Network2 or YouTube, or read a blog, or listen to a podcast. That’s your hybrid.

  • http://jaymoonah.com/blog/ Jay Moonah

    Enric is right on the money.

    * Bloggers are un-edited, unprofessional, and amateurish, and this harms the value.

    Isn’t that like saying the existence of a million crappy street musicians harms the value of Radiohead? The cream still raises, in fact it’s probably easier to find the cream now because the opportunity to be heard is increasingly not limited by access to the means of production, the 20th century version of the class systems of old. It’s not just about the elite anymore, and throughout history that’s always been a good thing in the end.

    * Who wants to watch all this YouTube and personal media? Why are people watching Justin.tv?

    If people are watching Justin.tv, it’s because it’s interesting/funny/informative/whatever. The same reason people watch or don’t watch anything.

    * Is there a hybrid that will more likely make this work out?

    We have a hybrid, it’s called personal choice. I can get one of 4 paid and 2 free daily newspapers here in Toronto, or read the websites of any of the same. I can turn on the TV here at 6 pm and watch one of 4 different local news broadcasts, or get part or all of (some of) those brodcasts via various Internet and TV timeshifted options after the fact. Or, I can choose to dial up some video on Network2 or YouTube, or read a blog, or listen to a podcast. That’s your hybrid.

  • http://flacklife.blogspot.com Bob LeDrew

    Man, I want to read his book so … freaking… badly. I HATE trying to have a discussion based on promotional material. And I’m in PR. Hello, Mr. Keen’s publisher? D-list blogger wants a review copy pleeze…

  • http://flacklife.blogspot.com Bob LeDrew

    Man, I want to read his book so … freaking… badly. I HATE trying to have a discussion based on promotional material. And I’m in PR. Hello, Mr. Keen’s publisher? D-list blogger wants a review copy pleeze…

  • http://www.jonglassett.com Jon

    I’m with Enric and Jay Moonah on this one. Keen makes some good–if not painfully obvious–points about the general quality of new media offerings out there, but this is an evolutionary process. This discussion is part of it.

    Yes, there are a lot of hacks out there. So what? Do we assume the public isn’t smart enough to know the difference between a journalistic blog and a respected newspaper and then regulate bloggers out of the journalism game entirely? That’s utterly unrealistic. Do you write a book and campaign against new media? Well, go right ahead but I think it’s a fool’s errand, personally. It also seems a bit hypocritical to defend the media that gives us 24×7 coverage of Anna Nicole on the grounds that quality is being compromised.

    The fact is it all comes down to what people choose to read, watch or listen to and more choices simply means more competition. New media should strive to always improve. Consumers of new media should know enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Old media should seek to embrace these trends and consider that this movement could very well result in a more engaged, informed and literate audience.

    If establishment media is losing customers maybe they should get their own house in order before blaming their sputtering careers on the great unwashed.

    But, hey, I’m just some dude with a personal blog and I’m not selling you a thing.

    -Jon

  • http://www.jonglassett.com Jon

    I’m with Enric and Jay Moonah on this one. Keen makes some good–if not painfully obvious–points about the general quality of new media offerings out there, but this is an evolutionary process. This discussion is part of it.

    Yes, there are a lot of hacks out there. So what? Do we assume the public isn’t smart enough to know the difference between a journalistic blog and a respected newspaper and then regulate bloggers out of the journalism game entirely? That’s utterly unrealistic. Do you write a book and campaign against new media? Well, go right ahead but I think it’s a fool’s errand, personally. It also seems a bit hypocritical to defend the media that gives us 24×7 coverage of Anna Nicole on the grounds that quality is being compromised.

    The fact is it all comes down to what people choose to read, watch or listen to and more choices simply means more competition. New media should strive to always improve. Consumers of new media should know enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Old media should seek to embrace these trends and consider that this movement could very well result in a more engaged, informed and literate audience.

    If establishment media is losing customers maybe they should get their own house in order before blaming their sputtering careers on the great unwashed.

    But, hey, I’m just some dude with a personal blog and I’m not selling you a thing.

    -Jon

  • http://www.ldpodcast.com Whitney

    I keep coming back to Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Future series on BBC 4 (available streaming on the net- not mp3
    : ( [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hhgttf/]
    He says that every time a new medium comes forth, the others don’t disappear (a few short moments for the 8 track tape…) they just move over and make more room. TV changed things but didn’t eliminate radio; the internet is changing things but is not going to eliminate TV or radio. Likewise, blogs won’t eliminate newspapers and journalists, but it will make them work harder in a competitive environment.

    That’s it- I need to start a curriculum for New Media School- we keep mulling over the same issues time and again, and it’s time for everyone to realize that, like Enric said, it isn’t either /or. Those insisting on this black/white dichotomy are seeing parts of their value add stripped away by those doing something similar, often in the “good enough” category for free. Just remember, Encyclopedia Brittanica was replaced by encarta and then wikipedia, folks. While the content is not as rich or well researched, it fits the good enough paradigm.

  • http://www.ldpodcast.com Whitney

    I keep coming back to Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Future series on BBC 4 (available streaming on the net- not mp3
    : ( [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hhgttf/]
    He says that every time a new medium comes forth, the others don’t disappear (a few short moments for the 8 track tape…) they just move over and make more room. TV changed things but didn’t eliminate radio; the internet is changing things but is not going to eliminate TV or radio. Likewise, blogs won’t eliminate newspapers and journalists, but it will make them work harder in a competitive environment.

    That’s it- I need to start a curriculum for New Media School- we keep mulling over the same issues time and again, and it’s time for everyone to realize that, like Enric said, it isn’t either /or. Those insisting on this black/white dichotomy are seeing parts of their value add stripped away by those doing something similar, often in the “good enough” category for free. Just remember, Encyclopedia Brittanica was replaced by encarta and then wikipedia, folks. While the content is not as rich or well researched, it fits the good enough paradigm.

  • kat

    “Keep em’ stupid.”
    it’s an american dream!

  • http://nada kat

    “Keep em’ stupid.”
    it’s an american dream!

  • Anonymous

    What’s missing in Andew Keen’s contention that “Bloggers are un-edited, unprofessional, and amateurish, and this harms the value.” is that your readers can be your best editors. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch modifies his article based on comments from his readers.

    Hunderds, thousand eyes or millions of eyes — depending on your blog popularity — can see more than a few editors or one can. And there will be those that will be glad to correct you.

    If you consider your blog publish as the first draft to an editor and some of the comments as editor notes for revision, you’ll write a much more accurate and better article than most editors can influence.

  • http://cirne.com Enric

    What’s missing in Andew Keen’s contention that “Bloggers are un-edited, unprofessional, and amateurish, and this harms the value.” is that your readers can be your best editors. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch modifies his article based on comments from his readers.

    Hunderds, thousand eyes or millions of eyes — depending on your blog popularity — can see more than a few editors or one can. And there will be those that will be glad to correct you.

    If you consider your blog publish as the first draft to an editor and some of the comments as editor notes for revision, you’ll write a much more accurate and better article than most editors can influence.

  • http://completerunning.com/chocolate-runners-blog/ Jon (was) in Michigan

    Keen needs to rename his book “Déjà vu”.

    [begin sarcasm]

    I am quite certain they heard the Shakespeare himself rolled in his grave with the appearance of the moving picture, or “movie”. How could a REAL actor/actress appear in such a thing that can be filmed over and over until it is done correctly? Only a true and gifted actor could perform it flawlessly before a LIVE audience, where projecting their voice and emotion takes time and talent. Movie actors are hacks!

    Oh, and the screams surely came from Valentino himself when the movies added, gasp, SOUND! To actually hear an actor SAY what he is feeling or thinking, completely steals the drama of the film and is devoid of any imagination. Any actor with true talent can communicate any emotion with the proper tilt of an eyebrow or the deep sorrowful glance. Sound movie actors are hacks!

    The moderator looks old enough to have enjoyed “The Shadow” and “The Lone Ranger” on, egads, THE RADIO! How dreadful! With the advent of this abomination, any AVERAGE fool can be zapped into every household in the country for their entertainment. Boring, base, common, plebian broadcasts, filling people’s afternoons and evenings with crass drivel. Actors? Hah! Hardly. Radio broadcasts are the work of two-bit wanna-be’s who can’t handle the big screen and aren’t even talented enough to show their faces! Radio (cough) actors are hacks!

    Tele-who? Television? Ah, I see, now we dispense with any imagination that might have been born in our kids listening to the adventures of Wild Bill so that they can sit for hours watching Howdy Doody dance on a stage full of children, as the shows are broadcast direct to their homes as they happen No thought, no imagination needed. You see it all, hear it all. Talent? Who needs talent when you can see it happening live from somewhere across the country. TV actors are hacks!

    Make no mistake, we no longer make mistakes. Thanks to the joy of taped television, nobody has to see a TV actor make another mistake ever again. Consequently, the television actor that spent his days creating a live show, no longer has need of talent, or practice, or rehearsal. Gone are the days of the actor who strived for perfection. Taped shows on TV make life seem flawless, and the talent of the actors falls to pieces. Taped TV actors are hacks!

    [end sarcasm]

    The arguments Keen puts out echo ones that have been heard in each generation since a caveman first said “arg” instead of “ugh”, and forever changed the nature of communication.

    With every era of change, the old complains that the new is less talented, less worthy, doesn’t work as hard, didn’t “earn” it, doesn’t appreciate where it came from. Usually, these sentences start with “When I was your age…”

    I find it incredibly ironic that Keen is so critical of the newest form of communication, when he has just published a book himself. Computers and word processing software have made it a walk in the park for wanna-be authors, and the boom in publishing houses has made it so almost anyone can be an author now. I wonder what Keets, Hemingway, and Twain would have had to say about that. :)

  • http://completerunning.com/chocolate-runners-blog/ Jon (was) in Michigan

    Keen needs to rename his book “Déjà vu”.

    [begin sarcasm]

    I am quite certain they heard the Shakespeare himself rolled in his grave with the appearance of the moving picture, or “movie”. How could a REAL actor/actress appear in such a thing that can be filmed over and over until it is done correctly? Only a true and gifted actor could perform it flawlessly before a LIVE audience, where projecting their voice and emotion takes time and talent. Movie actors are hacks!

    Oh, and the screams surely came from Valentino himself when the movies added, gasp, SOUND! To actually hear an actor SAY what he is feeling or thinking, completely steals the drama of the film and is devoid of any imagination. Any actor with true talent can communicate any emotion with the proper tilt of an eyebrow or the deep sorrowful glance. Sound movie actors are hacks!

    The moderator looks old enough to have enjoyed “The Shadow” and “The Lone Ranger” on, egads, THE RADIO! How dreadful! With the advent of this abomination, any AVERAGE fool can be zapped into every household in the country for their entertainment. Boring, base, common, plebian broadcasts, filling people’s afternoons and evenings with crass drivel. Actors? Hah! Hardly. Radio broadcasts are the work of two-bit wanna-be’s who can’t handle the big screen and aren’t even talented enough to show their faces! Radio (cough) actors are hacks!

    Tele-who? Television? Ah, I see, now we dispense with any imagination that might have been born in our kids listening to the adventures of Wild Bill so that they can sit for hours watching Howdy Doody dance on a stage full of children, as the shows are broadcast direct to their homes as they happen No thought, no imagination needed. You see it all, hear it all. Talent? Who needs talent when you can see it happening live from somewhere across the country. TV actors are hacks!

    Make no mistake, we no longer make mistakes. Thanks to the joy of taped television, nobody has to see a TV actor make another mistake ever again. Consequently, the television actor that spent his days creating a live show, no longer has need of talent, or practice, or rehearsal. Gone are the days of the actor who strived for perfection. Taped shows on TV make life seem flawless, and the talent of the actors falls to pieces. Taped TV actors are hacks!

    [end sarcasm]

    The arguments Keen puts out echo ones that have been heard in each generation since a caveman first said “arg” instead of “ugh”, and forever changed the nature of communication.

    With every era of change, the old complains that the new is less talented, less worthy, doesn’t work as hard, didn’t “earn” it, doesn’t appreciate where it came from. Usually, these sentences start with “When I was your age…”

    I find it incredibly ironic that Keen is so critical of the newest form of communication, when he has just published a book himself. Computers and word processing software have made it a walk in the park for wanna-be authors, and the boom in publishing houses has made it so almost anyone can be an author now. I wonder what Keets, Hemingway, and Twain would have had to say about that. :)

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  • http://spaceygreview.blogspot.com/ SpaceyG

    Smarter, better journalists? Like, say, Judith Miller? In that case, keep blogging folks. Like your life depends on it. It could very well at some point down the line.

  • http://spaceygreview.blogspot.com/ SpaceyG

    Smarter, better journalists? Like, say, Judith Miller? In that case, keep blogging folks. Like your life depends on it. It could very well at some point down the line.

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  • http://twittervlog.blogspot.com/ Rupert

    Keen’s contentions are assumed to be the case by pretty much everyone I know in real life. I’m bored of the hypocrisy of hearing op/ed writers giving stupid opinions about how awful it is that amateurs can now offer their stupid opinions. It’s lazy thinking, and based on lack of online experience – but it sells well, like all reactionary tripe. What’s more, reading the official Amazon review the other day, it sounded like Keen couldn’t actually provide any proper examples to back up his hypothesis.

    Of *course* there’s rubbish out there, on the internet and in MSM. Blah. Equally, there’s that other book called Everything Bad Is Good For You which is arguing that supposedly dumbed down popular culture is making us smarter. If I want to read an academic paper, I can – I’ll find it online most of the time. If I want to read gossipy crap, I’ll pick up a newspaper on the Tube (and invariably feel dirty and used by the time I reach my destination). If I want to connect and discuss with people who share interests, I’ll use all the amazing online tools at my disposal. And, as said in the comments, the discussion is invariably as important as the blog post being discussed. I know journalists – and the commissioning, editing and review process is just as bullshit as anything else.

    For instance, I have a theatre reviewer friend who was commissioned to write an article on an Indian theatre company that does amazing things in rural India and was forced to turn it into a sensationalist personal bio of the company’s director, at the insistence of her editor, at one of this country’s most respected newspapers. I’m not going to give this guy Keen my money until I hear he’s actually made some concrete arguments about how new media is worse than old rather than just ranted like a mad old man about the world not being what it used to be.

  • http://twittervlog.blogspot.com/ Rupert

    Keen’s contentions are assumed to be the case by pretty much everyone I know in real life. I’m bored of the hypocrisy of hearing op/ed writers giving stupid opinions about how awful it is that amateurs can now offer their stupid opinions. It’s lazy thinking, and based on lack of online experience – but it sells well, like all reactionary tripe. What’s more, reading the official Amazon review the other day, it sounded like Keen couldn’t actually provide any proper examples to back up his hypothesis.

    Of *course* there’s rubbish out there, on the internet and in MSM. Blah. Equally, there’s that other book called Everything Bad Is Good For You which is arguing that supposedly dumbed down popular culture is making us smarter. If I want to read an academic paper, I can – I’ll find it online most of the time. If I want to read gossipy crap, I’ll pick up a newspaper on the Tube (and invariably feel dirty and used by the time I reach my destination). If I want to connect and discuss with people who share interests, I’ll use all the amazing online tools at my disposal. And, as said in the comments, the discussion is invariably as important as the blog post being discussed. I know journalists – and the commissioning, editing and review process is just as bullshit as anything else.

    For instance, I have a theatre reviewer friend who was commissioned to write an article on an Indian theatre company that does amazing things in rural India and was forced to turn it into a sensationalist personal bio of the company’s director, at the insistence of her editor, at one of this country’s most respected newspapers. I’m not going to give this guy Keen my money until I hear he’s actually made some concrete arguments about how new media is worse than old rather than just ranted like a mad old man about the world not being what it used to be.

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  • http://www.elantro.cl POLA

    Shane Robinson
    “I think he is trying to be a catalyst and stir up controversy to sell his book. And he’ll probably do a good job. I now want to read it just to seee how wrong he is. ”

    Si, scanneen el libro de este tipo y subanlo a la red. De ahi opino.
    Saludos

  • http://www.elantro.cl POLA

    Shane Robinson
    “I think he is trying to be a catalyst and stir up controversy to sell his book. And he’ll probably do a good job. I now want to read it just to seee how wrong he is. ”

    Si, scanneen el libro de este tipo y subanlo a la red. De ahi opino.
    Saludos

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