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The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the rest of today's user-generated media are killing our culture and economy [Paperback]

Andrew Keen
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

9 Oct 2008
A new, updated edition, with a new foreword of Andrew Keen s witty and provocative polemic against the rise of user-generated content and the anything goes standards of much online publishing, which set the blogosphere and media alight on publication. Dubbed the 'anti-christ' of Silicon Valley and a dot-com apostate Andrew Keen is the leading contemporary critic of the Internet. and The Cult of the Amateur is a scathing attack on the mad utopians of Web 2.0 and the wisdom of the crowd. Keen argues that much of the content filling up YouTube, MySpace, and blogs is just an endless digital forest of mediocrity which, unconstrained by professional standards or editorial filters, can alter public debate and manipulate public opinion.

Frequently Bought Together

The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the rest of today's user-generated media are killing our culture and economy + The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember + You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto
Price For All Three: 21.67

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd; New Ed edition (9 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857885201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857885200
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A staggering new book by Andrew Keen. He is an English-born digital media entrepreneur and Silicon Valley insider who really knows his stuff and he writes with the passion of a man who can at last see the dangers he has helped unleash. His book will come as a real shock to many. It certainly did to me. --A N Wilson, The Daily Mail

A shrewdly argued jeremiad against the digerati effort to dethrone cultural and political gatekeepers and replace experts with 'the wisdom of the crowd'. Keen writes with acuity and passion. --The New York Times

The Cult of the Amateur needed to be written and it needs to be read. --Management Today

About the Author

He hosts the acclaimed podcast show, AfterTV, and his views have generated a firestorm of interest.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 124 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a damp squib 14 Jun 2007
By John RC
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Andrew Keen has the right credentials to address the question of the cultural impact of the web and it is a subject of interest to me, so I was intrigued by the title and the reviews. However, I was really quite disappointed by the book. I now have some suspicions, rightly anticipated by Keen himself, about the reviewers who said it is "beautifully written" and the work of "an intellectual Goliath".

The style of the book is polemical, which in my view detracts from, rather than strengthens, his message. Andrew Keen's hypothesis is that the internet, or rather the mass contribution of its content by "amateurs", is a threat to "our culture and our values" or something that might destroy "the institutions of the past". At the centre of this hypothesis is the argument that the millions of amateur contributors of free, unregulated, biased, poor quality and downright untrue web content are undermining, obscuring or preventing the contributions of professionals (amongst which Keen presumably counts himself) which are high quality, truthful and . . er . . costly.

Yet I find his arguments are weak and contradictory, and the metaphors and anecdotes he uses often cut both ways. There are so many examples it is hard to pick one as an illustration. Keen quotes from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four to provide a flavour of what might become of us through our mass ignorance and rejection of expert guidance - "Two plus two makes five" might eventually be considered true - but he misses the point that only in a totalitarian state could such an untruth be accepted as true. The "democracy" of the web is precisely the sort of mechanism that would prevent this being possible.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time 27 May 2008
A month ago, I went to Felix Meritis in Amsterdam, where Andrew Keen held a debate about his book "The Cult of the Amateur". I heard of him before, and consulted his blog a number of times, which did not draw my attention very much. I thought he made a point through exaggeration, and nothing wrong with it if, at least, there is some data and reasonable argumentation backing his statements. I was quite interested if he would convince me, because I thought it was good to hear something about the negative side of Web 2.0. And negative it was.

It turned out to be pretty disappointing, both the lecture of Keen, which was somewhat engaging, using many examples and being very enthusiastic and cynical, and the reply by the other persons who were invited. Although examples can be engaging and create more understanding about a subject, you can hardly generalize them into always-true statements, since.. well, they are examples. But that was exactly what Keen was doing, examples prove his point of view.. a pretty childish way of argumentation, which he used extensively in his book as well.

Andrew Keen is an angry man. He is angry at anything that resembles Web 2.0, he despises creations of amateurs online, filesharing, remixing of content, and he embraces everything that came before Web 2.0. In his anger, it must have been very hard for him to follow a consistent line of reasoning. The argumentation in the book is so lousy, I think I have never seen such sloppiness. And I don't get it. Although he admires and continuously points out the advantages and necessity of cultural gatekeepers, working at traditional media companies, it seems like he had not had any editor at all.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raises some interesting issues 3 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This isn't a bad book - maybe a little thin, and superficial. It covers the rise of Web 2 / user generated content, and looks at the perils of having so many poorly informed people masquerading as informed experts. The author's observations on Wikipedia, and the potential problems with content are correct. He covers the music industry, and how a new generation of younger people have no concept of ownership or intellectual rights. I can see his point.

My criticism of the book is that while his points are valid, he doesn't offer many remedies until the final chapter, and most of them aren't very convincing. I get the feeling the author would thoroughly disapprove of me giving this review. I'd be considered too amateur to fully appreciate and properly review his book. He's probably right.

I have some respect for him, because he's sticking his neck out by highlighting the pitfalls of Web 2, while everyone is falling over themselves to talk it up and suggest that the democratization of the Internet (and information in general) is the best thing ever.

I'd recommend reading the book. It won't take you too long.
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52 of 64 people found the following review helpful
One of the nicer ironies about this book is that much of the hype surrounding it seems to have been generated by the Web 2.0 crowd bashing it. I just bought it to see what everyone was so upset about.

Pointing out all the problems with this book seems to have become a popular sport on the internet, but that's about the only joy you're going to get out of it. Much of Keen's analysis is itself decidedly amateurish - he's no economist and not much of a cultural critic. Dropping in a few learned-sounding references to Neil Postman and various members of the Huxley family didn't, for me at least, really make up for that. It just reinforced the impression that this man was really just a bit of an intellectual snob who hadn't bothered to do his homework.

More to the point, the bulk of his problem with "amateurs" seems to be based on an unerring ability to compare apples and oranges. No, it's unlikely that today's top clip on You Tube is going to compare that well to Citizen Kane, but so what? By rather obviously cherry-picking the best of the mainstream media and making equally selective decisions the other way about the stuff on the web, Keen makes his arguments seem pretty arbitrary. I could compare Legally Blond 2 to a usenet science group and draw opposite, and equally random, conclusions. Neither really tells us much about what's going on.

This is a shame, because, as many of the other reviewers say, it isn't like there aren't some very valid concerns surrounding whether we'll work out how to pay for the culture we actually want in the "Web 2.0" age, not to mention privacy concerns, digital exhibitionism, etc. etc. Sadly, this book isn't going to tell you much about it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Used for sociology dissertation
I used this book for my sociology dissertation (knitting and popular culture). It is very well written and enjoyable to read.
Published 14 months ago by Lucy Jennings
5.0 out of 5 stars compulsory reading
A book everybody ought to have read. Seriously. Even as a blogger with lots of YouTube friends who buys online and does not watch the TV news or read the paper - this helps you to... Read more
Published 19 months ago by John Doe
3.0 out of 5 stars Andrew Keen on the dark side of the wisdom of the crowd
In this book, Andrew Keen categorically dismisses the notion that anyone anywhere anytime could take it on its hands to publish their works without any credentials from an... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by Getaneh Agegn Alemu
5.0 out of 5 stars Conclusions are not limited to internet. Sadly.
It doesn't take to read the whole book to agree or not. It's enough to reflect on the title as it captures the whole concept brilliantly and comprehensively enough to reject or to... Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2011 by Mikolaj Pietrzyk
5.0 out of 5 stars Allot of what is in this old book have happened! So it is still worth...
This is still relevant after all these years. I read this when it first came out and didn't think much of it. Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2011 by Halifax Student Account
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
My final/third year dissertation was heavily based upon the realistic and insightful views of Andrew Keen. Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2011 by StevenGradidge
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult or Culture?
Do you really want amateurs interfering in your own profession? When the poop hits the prop you probably don't. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by Mr. N. Foale
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon proves Andrew Keen right
The enormous number of poor quality, border-line illiterate, superficial reviews on Amazon just prove Andrew Keen's point. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2010 by JT
2.0 out of 5 stars Nicely written nonsense
There seems to be a relationship between how well authors write and their general ignorance of the subject and this book is a case in point. Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2009 by Andrew Dalby
1.0 out of 5 stars missing the point
I was highly disappointed with this book. I found that it failed to achieve a coherent argument and blatantly ignored opposing views. Read more
Published on 16 May 2009 by SB
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