“….gimme a sec Vader, and I’ll be right with you…..”
A few days ago we wrote about the rise of the ‘peasants’ as they took control of the media. As in the 15th Century, the nobility is pissed off. They are going to talk about ‘divine rights of Kings’, how God meant for them to rule, and how the peasant class is ‘utterly unqualified’ for the rarified haunts of the privledged class.
Now, here it comes:
Writing in The Times yesterday, Andrew Keene deplores the “cult of the amateur”.
Before the internet it seemed like a joke: if you provide an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters one of them will eventually come up with a masterpiece. But with the web now firmly established in its second evolutionary phase – in which users create the content on blogs, podcasts and streamed video – the infinite monkey theory doesn’t seem so funny any more.
“Today’s technology hooks all those monkeys up with all those typewriters,” argues Andrew Keen, who believes that “web 2.0” is killing our culture, assaulting our economy and destroying time-honoured codes of conduct.”
How can we respond to this?
Of course, my intitial response is, ‘up your’s Andy’.
But I don’t want to be accused of destroying any time-honoured codes of conduct.
So lemme do it this way:
This feeling that ‘the barbarians are at the gate’ is nothing now. And, by the way also not wrong. The barbarians are not only at the gate, they’re already here, living in the palace. And good thing too, because the palace was a dead place; immobile and calcified.
Free presses are messy. You unleash ‘the masses’ and the next thing you know, they go and start doing what they what to do, writing and producing what they want to see, talking about what interests them!
What a collapse of ‘culture’.
Heraclitus, the 5th C (BCE) Greek philosopher who said “much information does not teach wisdom“, only gets 850,000 Google hits. On the other hand, Jessica Simpson, the 21st Century philosopher who once said “Chicken of the Sea? Is it tuna or is it chicken? I don’t understand” gets a tad over 7 million.
Does it make Jessica Simpson 9 times smarter than Heraclitus? I don’t think so.
As the wise Heraclitus once wrote, ‘much information does not teach wisdom’.
So do not be afraid of much information. Or much mess for that matter.
It’s a sign of a healthy culture.
Free presses are messy. They are supposed to be. Democracy is messy. They are also supposed to be. It is fine, in fact it is healthy to have lots and lots and lots of voices, as opposed to a few state controlled or corporate controlled ‘voices of truth’.
As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, the answer to bad free speech is more free speech.
At a working breakfast in 2004 Keen was alarmed to be told the new democratic internet would overthrow the “dictatorship of expertise”. And that’s happening already. Wikipedia, with its millions of amateur editors and unreliable content, is the 17th most trafficked site on the net. Britannica.com, a subscription-based service with 100 Nobel prize-winning contributors and more than 4,000 other experts is ranked 5,128. As a result, Britannica has had to make painful cuts in staffing and editorial.
Well Andrew, the ‘people’ have spoken.
Perhaps, if Britannica wishes to survive in this brave new world, they should pay more attention to ‘the people’, and my guess, (uniformed amateur that I am), is that Britannica’s primary problem lays in their subscription-based model, as opposed to the quality of their content.