Fastwrite: What, if anything, has made it hard for you to generate posts for your blog? What advice would you have to offer someone else about how to sustain a consistent pace of posts?
Groups: Spend five minutes on each blog. What ideas for new posts do readers have?
Andrew Keen (pp. 242–49) argues that social media have fostered a “cultural Marxism,” a “creeping narcissism,” a “flattening” of “talent” into “opinion,” and a loss of “our memory for things learned, read, experienced, or heard.”
- What sorts of evidence does Keen offer for such claims? What other kinds of evidence might be provided?
- What sorts of evidence—from other pieces in Digital Divide, from your own experiences— might be used to argue against them?
What are the cultural and individual gains of “nomadicity”? (See Todd Gitlin, pp. 207-14). What are its downsides?
Gitlin also points to the “invasion of solitude” (213) as one of the costs of universal access. How usefully, or not, does William Deresiewicz (307-17) develop and refine this concern?
- Digital Essay Proposal, due Friday, 3/16.
- Conferences to discuss proposals (optional): Mon, 3/19, 11–1, Tues, 3/20, 1-4
- Class, Tues, 3/20: We will meet in 01 Old Chem for an intro to editing with iMovie (iMovie_Handout).
- Continue blogging! I will review your blog and give it a final grade on Friday, 3/23.
In his article “Web 2.0: the second generation of the internet has arrived and it’s worse than you think,” Andrew Keen writes like one who speaks to hear his own voice. As soon as the term “marxist” got thrown into the article, I knew that I would be reading an exaggerated and unfounded critique of the new web. Keen’s main argument was that the new technology “arms every citizen with the means to be an opinionated artist or writer,” (243) as virtually anyone is allowed to publish and upload their own personal content. Wait, this is a bad thing?
While people can indeed upload, the web does not arm every citizen with the means to be read and heard. Just as the establishment of big media served as the “experts in taste” for selecting who would be published or broadcasted over the radio waves, the web itself has its own establishment of reputable sources, such as famous music blogs and popular forums. Moreover, the actual act of publishing personal content is by no means an outrage against big media; in fact most users probably hope to get connected to the big studios, labels, and publishing houses by using the Web 2.0.
If the purpose of the media and entertainment industries is to “discover, nurture, and reward talent,” then the web is the perfect filter for them, serving as an extra employee who seeks out talent. Who’s to say that all the talent was captured in the pre-internet era? Maybe there was another Bono out there, but his demo tape got accidentally thrown into the trash. In the web age, if an artist is especially good, his or her music is shared via social media so much so that they cannot be missed. Perhaps Keen is afraid that the new Web 2.0 will render him irrelevant as an author, and his poorly thought out critique with various academic terms was an act of insecurity.
Judging by the way Andrew Keen ended his article, you would have thought that someone forced him to read thousands of weblogs. Who cares if there are millions and millions of weblogs? No one is making Keen read these blogs and I find it hard to believe that the simple existence of a blog suddenly dilutes content everywhere. Blogs serve to please a select audience, and when that audience disappears the blog will disappear. But so long as one person (including the writer) cares about the blog, there’s no reason for it not to exist.
Keen is scared that having more democratized content will dilute our standards. But if anything, the abundance of content is only allowing for people to cater closer towards their tastes. To me, it seems as if Keen is arguing that people deserve less choices. He would argue that there shouldn’t be seven different styles of peanut butter, that there should be chunky and smooth. But I don’t see the issue in having extra choices. It doesn’t matter how diluted any pool of products, ideas, or people is—the best of each respective group will find a way to rise up and differentiate itself. If we have a million weblogs dedicated to origami, it is fair to assume the best ones will be referred to by their readers to their peers and circulate to the point where they are more well-known. Having extra blogs doesn’t hurt this process at all. Bad blogs remain un-followed and unread, while good blogs spread quickly. So the consumers of origami will still have access to the best blogs, but they will also have the ability to cater towards the blog that most aligns with their other interests. Perhaps one blog focuses more on animal figures, while another focuses on floral figures. This option of customization is not hurt by the addition of more blogs, only by the imposition of barriers to entry for authors of prospective blogs.
Furthermore, Keen’s prediction of a future where “everyone is an author, while there is no longer any audience” sounds borderline insane. Just because Tom made a Youtube video of himself singing Party in the USA doesn’t mean he would never watch any other videos but his own. There will never be a point where people only consume their own material. There will always be an audience, and the highest quality or most appealing material will find a way to percolate through the population.
The world thinks of America as the epitome of meritocracy. If Keen had his way, how many talented people would be squashed because they never had a chance to shine? Maybe even Justin Bieber.