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on August 9, 2009
For the last few years, many people have been talking up the idea of Web 2.0, community, collaboration and participation. But in this book, Andrew Keen presents the other side of the equation. The sub-title of the book pretty much sums up his point of view "How today's Internet is killing our culture and assaulting our economy".

His main argument is that the new Internet promotes popularity over expertise, trivia over serious news, and sound bites over substance. He also talks about things like the death of specialty music stores because of easy access to downloadable music; the slow demise of newspapers and TV due to "citizen journalism" through blogs and forums; and the growth of on-line gambling, pornography and other "Net nasties".

I don't agree with everything he says, but I do think he's right - to some extent. This is a well-reasoned book, and one worth reading, especially if you're a fan of everything Web 2.0. There's so much out there praising it; it's worth seeing the opposite side of the debate.
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on January 13, 2008
Let me state as another social media writer, I do not advocate Keen's approach or elitist point of view. In fact he tries so hard to bemoan the fall of societal culture he sounds like a cranky Queen Victoria bemoaning casual sex.

But, the last chapter saves the day, as Keen concedes that web 2.0 is here to stay. We then enjoy questions about finding balance between web 2.0 versus the need for authoritative information. If you find the text to be tedious, too, then skip to the last chapter.
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on May 1, 2013
Not a horrible book and not the most interesting I've ever read. Keen definitely made some valid, undeniable points that I completely agree with. And, after reading, you'd agree as well. All in all, it was pretty enjoyable. Makes you look at things a tad differently. Good stuff.
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on October 22, 2012
I like the book..
The writer shows a very respected point of view, although I dont agree 100% with it..
he see that the new media is affecting the way of thinking and learning
everybody wants to talk not to hear, want to teach others not to learn..
the people's knowledge is affected and become less authoritative
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on October 31, 2015
Intestine proposition a bit dated now
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on February 18, 2013
The Cult of Amateur strongly shows Andrew Keen's criticism about the affect of internet in modern day as it is wreaking a potential destruction on our economy. This book is not very interesting to read but it is okay.
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on February 8, 2016
Just ok
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on July 13, 2013
A little slow to get into, but once there the content is, as in Keen's previous book, remarkable and prophetic.
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on January 31, 2008
This book was required reading for my Business of Photography II class, and I found it pompous and contradictory, with lots of grammar and spelling mistakes. Was there no editing before publication? The author makes very bold statements throughout the book on myspace and facebook and other websites, without giving any real sense of resolution or any ideas on how to fix the issues he states. This novel seems more of nonstop whining then anything else.
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on September 20, 2007
It is often said that the diversity of opinion is a good thing, and by extension the more opinions we have the better. Not so, says Andrew Keen, writer and founder of internet music site Audiocafe. Keen argues that amateurs in an increasingly democratized media are undermining our respected cultural institutions, and the standards and expertise they uphold. If this sounds elitist, its because it is. Keen makes no apologies.

My first thought as an amateur book reviewer was that things are more interesting and diverse now that anyone can write a review and perhaps give a unique perspective. Why not? My second was maybe Keen has a point. Amateurs don't get paid for their work, nor do they have editors checking their accuracy , and they do not have the resources to do original research, they rely heavily on secondary sources. What are the consequences for cultural institutions such as newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, music and film producers, etc. What happens to the people who make their living in these industries when the internet allows people to distribute products for free?

Keen makes some interesting points. Unlike James Suriowiecki who extolled the "wisdom of crowds," Keen does not believe that the masses inherently possess good judgement. The evidence, he argues, is everywhere on the internet: music and movies are either unlawfully downloaded or they are simply garage bands or home movies, and the blogs, where people now get their news, consist of "superficial observations" and "shrill opinion." Traditional cultural institutions are at least dedicated to truthfulness, accuracy, and quality. They honor the laws of authorship and intellectual property. And these institutions generate revenues that create jobs and benefits for a large number of people.

Keen's concern about the superficiality and shrillness of internet content does not interest me, that's part of its attraction. There has always been garbage out there, and the educated consumer has always been able to sift through it. However the economics of the amateur does concern me. What happens when large numbers of people are working for free and as a result putting major newspapers and other institutions, that have always served us well, out of business. Also of concern is the unlawful use of intellectual property such as videos, films, books, articles, etc. No one knows yet what financial damage has been done by having this property stolen.

Keen makes some proposals in the last chapter of the book called "Solutions." One of his proposals would be government regulation. The danger here is that any government intervention will entail working with the thousands of lobbyists that battle each other to win favors from the politicians. The cure here could be worse than the disease.

The more interesting proposal would be to get the amateurs to police themselves. And how would this be done? You guessed it, they need to be guided by experts. A good example is Wikipedia. Keen writes that "The knowledge of experts does trump the collective 'wisdom' of amateurs. He {Wales} learned that an open-source encyclopedia like Wikipedia could only function effectively if it reserved some authority to screen and edit its anonymous contributions." Keen has a point here, but his battle to restore gatekeepers to the internet will be uphill if not impossible.
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