July 31, 2007 — -- Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen is out with the book "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture," which outlines the dangers of citizen media or, as many are calling it, Web 2.0.
The basic premise of my book is that two things are going on simultaneously. On one hand, we have the rise of citizen media — what people in Silicon Valley call Web 2.0 — which is a new media promoting user-generated content.
Examples of these are YouTube, Wikipedia and Google. What defines these sites is they have no centralized authority, no formal gatekeepers. They undermine the traditional hierarchies and authority of mainstream media. The other thing that is going on is the structural crisis of mainstream media.
Newspapers are closing, music labels are laying off staff in droves, Hollywood, the publishing business, they're all in crisis. We're losing our high-quality mainstream media and we're replacing it with the amateur quality content from the Internet.
I'm all in favor of an educated public engaging in media. What concerns me is an illiterate public, engaging in media, thinking that they can replace media, they can replace newspapers.
This is a public that's knows very little about the world, and the end result is a dumbing down of culture, a dumbing down of information and an increasingly rude and politically extreme discourse, which essentially undermines the civic values in America today.
What will be the state of media in 10 to 50 years?
One vision is the disappearance of mainstream media, the complete amateurization of content. The other more optimistic vision is a media in which citizens contribute but at the same time it's a media dominated by professionals.
It would be a media not that different from that of today but at the same time it would be one that would be more accessible, more exciting and more vibrant.
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