The Canapes Of The Amateur.
Last night, I went to the ICA to hear Andrew Keen interviewed by Bryan Appleyard.
By his own admission he wanted to annoy the libertarians of both the left and right - those of the left who were the utopian and the Hayekian free marketers of the right who would leave everything to Adam Smith's "invisible hand. That's fine by me - the intellectual property arguments of the left are nonsensical while the extreme free marketers are similarly deluding themselves. But while there's much one can agree with in the book and in what Keen said last night, he does have a tendency to ruin his impact with a sneering aside or by seeming to imply that only the educated/published have valid, fact-checked arguments.
Many of the things he rightly worries about have little to do with the internet or Web 2.0 - although connectivity clearly accelerates trends. Media companies were imploding long before the impact of file sharing and indeed only have themsleves to balme for an ostrich reaction to an emrging technology, while the real villain of the piece in my eyes is a lack of critical thinking generated by falling overall education standards.
Where he would argue that the internet is undermining societal cohesiveness by fragmenting mainstream media, anyone reading this knows that blogging equally generates new social networks that are both challenging and rewarding and stretch into real life. I disagree with him but I'm glad he's put his head above the parapet because as a contrarian myself I think it's always good to question the received wisdom of our various echo chambers.
Addendum: He spoke of hostile receptions at previous talks, but I think he's in for a peach of one on Wednesday when he speaks at a conference where I note both Hugh Macleod and Mark Earls are also speakers. I look forward to reports from there.