- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing; 2 edition (9 Oct. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857885201
- ISBN-13: 978-1857885200
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 323,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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 – 9 Oct 2008
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Andrew Keen has had the temerity to point out that our search for instant wisdom through, say, Google and Wikipedia provides not necessarily what is most true or reliable-merely what is most popular. I read it in one sitting then went outside to fish for our supper, firmly believing that the poor fish that swallows my squirming worm on a barbed hook is infinitely smarter than the idiot on the other end holding the rod. (Ralph Steadman The Observer - "That's the best thing we've read all year")
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 Daily Mail)
Keen deserves to be taken seriously... I admire his bravery in arguing against the vociferous IT crowd. (Luke Johnson Management Today - Books of the Year)
The Cult of the Amateur needed to be written and it needs to be read. (Management Today)
This is a powerful, provocative and beautifully written stop-and-breathe book in the midst of the greatest paradigm shift in information and communications history. (Chris Schroeder, CEO, Health Central Network and former CEO, WashingtonPost/Newsweek online)
Andrew Keen is a brilliant, witty, classically-educated technoscold-and thank goodness. The world needs an intellectual Goliath to slay Web 2.0's army of Davids. (Jonathan Last, online editor, The Weekly Standard)
Important... will spur some very constructive debate. This is a book that can produce positive changes to the current inertia of web 2.0. (Martin Green, VP of Community, CNET)
For anyone who thinks that technology alone will make for a better democracy, Andrew Keen will make them think twice. (Andrew Rasiej, founder, Personal Democracy Forum)
Very engaging, and quite controversial and provocative. He doesn't hold back any punches. (Dan Farber, editor-in-chief, ZDNet)
Thank you so much for your virtual BIBLE. It is the only thing I have come across that is uncompromising and clear. The computer is a wonderful piece of machinery, but it is in danger of becoming a barometer of our moral stance, a law maker for our shared values and a bulwark against the sheer essence of beauty that has gone before. It must never be the annihilator of human effort, the touchstone of ingenuity or the simple pleasure of making something that may have been made for a thousand years. (Ralph Steadman)
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)
My initial reaction to the book was: 'Geez, I have a lot of things to think about now.' For people immersed in the social communities of Web 2.0, this is bound to be a thought-provoking and sobering book. While I don't agree with everything Keen says, there is page after page of really interesting insight and research. I look forward to the much-needed debate about the problems that Keen articulates-which can't be lightly dismissed. (Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Citizendium)
Keen argues that much of the content filling up YouTube, Twitter 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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Andrew Keen is that classic sort of British reactionary: the sort that would bemoan the loss of the word "gay" to the English language, and regret the damage caused by industrial vacuum cleaners on the chimney sweeping industry. His book is an impassioned, but simple-minded, harkening to those simpler times which concludes that our networked economy has pointlessly exalted the amateur, ruined the livelihood of experts, destroyed incentives for creating intellectual property, delivered to every man-jack amongst us the ability - never before possessed - to create and distribute our own intellectual property and monkeyed around mischievously with the title to property wrought from the very sweat of its author's brow.
Keen thinks this is a bad thing; but that is to assume that the prior state of affairs was unimpeachably good.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The most interesting thing about this book is, 7 years after it's publication, how both relevant and dated it is, even if it often reads like an old man confused as to why... Read morePublished 21 months ago by David G
The first four chapters lay out a good, solid critic of the flaws in Web 2.0 and crowd-sorted information. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Andrew Watton-Davies
I used this book for my sociology dissertation (knitting and popular culture). It is very well written and enjoyable to read.Published on 5 July 2013 by Lucy Jennings
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 morePublished on 16 Jan. 2013 by John Doe
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 morePublished on 13 Feb. 2012 by Getaneh Agegn Alemu
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 morePublished on 17 Jun. 2011 by Mikolaj Pietrzyk
This is still relevant after all these years. I read this when it first came out and didn't think much of it. Read morePublished on 16 Jun. 2011 by moises pittounikos (digital serf)
My final/third year dissertation was heavily based upon the realistic and insightful views of Andrew Keen. Read morePublished on 17 Feb. 2011 by hisfadgesty
Do you really want amateurs interfering in your own profession? When the poop hits the prop you probably don't. Read morePublished on 9 Jun. 2010 by Mr. N. Foale