[iDC] THE ANTI WEB 2.0 MANIFESTO (Andrew Keen)

R Labossiere admin at klooj.net
Wed Apr 25 19:26:54 EDT 2007

My first impulse was to engage with this miserable "manifesto," my second 
that "Andrew Keen" is an alias invented by the clever Michel Bauwens to act 
as a straw man against which he can argue his relentless optimism about the 
potentiality of human beings :) my third, to bother to look up "Mr. Keen's" 
website (aftertv.com) where the book pic takes to you to the Amazon where I 
found Publisher's Weekly's review:

"...But his jeremiad about the death of 'our cultural standards and moral 
values' heads swiftly downhill. Keen became somewhat notorious for a 2006 
Weekly Standard essay equating Web 2.0 with Marxism; like Karl Marx, he 
offers a convincing overall critique but runs into trouble with the details. 
Readers will nod in recognition at Keen's general arguments—sure, the Web is 
full of "user-generated nonsense"!—but many will frown at his specific 
examples, which pretty uniformly miss the point..."

"somewhat notorious" "pretty uniformly"... limp criticism that conveys the 
limpness of the thing criticized

If there is a discussion to be had here, it might be about the condition of 
"gleaning," the creation of a creative 'underclass' that moves from field to 
field scrabbling for grains left behind by production cycles of others.

over to you "Mr. K" ;)

- Robert Labossiere

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Trebor Scholz" <trebor at thing.net>
To: "IDC list" <idc at bbs.thing.net>
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 7:05 AM
Subject: [iDC] THE ANTI WEB 2.0 MANIFESTO (Andrew Keen)

Welcome to Andrew Keen. His "deliciously subversive new book," "The Cult of
the Amateur" "exposes the grave consequences of today’s new participatory
Web 2.0 and reveals
how it threatens our values..." There is a parallel to Jaron Lanier's
"Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism." (Thanks to
Bernardo Parrella for the link.)

THE ANTI WEB 2.0 MANIFESTO (Adorno-for-idiots) by Andrew Keen

1. The cult of the amateur is digital utopianism’s most seductive delusion.
This cult promises that the latest media technology -- in the form of blogs,
wikis and podcasts --  will
enable everyone to become widely read writers, journalists, movie directors
and music artists. It suggests, mistakenly, that everyone has something
interesting to say.

2. The digital utopian much heralded “democratization” of media will have a
destructive impact upon culture, particularly upon criticism. “Good taste”
is, as Adorno never tired
of telling us, undemocratic. Taste must reside with an elite (“truth
 makers”) of historically progressive cultural critics able to determine, on
behalf of the public, the value of a
work-of-art. The digital utopia seeks to flatten this elite into an
ochlocracy. The danger, therefore, is that the future will be tasteless.

3. To imagine the dystopian future, we need to reread Adorno, as well as
Kafka and Borges (the Web 2.0 dystopia can be mapped to that triangular
space between Frankfurt,
Prague and Buenos Aires). Unchecked technology threatens to undermine
reality and turn media into a rival version of life, a 21st century version
of “The Castle” or “The Library
of Babel”. This might make a fantastic movie or short piece of fiction. But
real life, like art, shouldn’t be fantasy; it shouldn’t be fiction.

4. A particularly unfashionable thought: big media is not bad media. The big
media engine of the Hollywood studios, the major record labels and
publishing houses has
discovered and branded great 20th century popular artists of such as Alfred
Hitchcock, Bono and W.G. Sebald (the “Vertigo” three). It is most unlikely
that citizen media will
have the marketing skills to discover and brand creative artists of
equivalent prodigy.

5. Let’s think differently about George Orwell. Apple’s iconic 1984 Super
Bowl commercial is true: 1984 will not be like Nineteen Eighty-Four the
message went. Yes, the “truth”
about the digital future will be the absence of the Orwellian Big Brother
and the Ministry of Truth. Orwell’s dystopia is the dictatorship of the
State; the Web 2.0 dystopia is the
dictatorship of the author. In the digital future, everyone will think they
are Orwell (the movie might be called: Being George Orwell).

6. Digital utopian economists Chris Anderson have invented a theoretically
flattened market that they have christened the “Long Tail”. It is a Hayekian
cottage market of small
media producers industriously trading with one another. But Anderson’s “Long
Tail” is really a long tale. The real economic future is something akin to
Google -- a vertiginous
media world in which content and advertising become so indistinguishable
that they become one and the same (more grist to that
Frankfurt-Prague-BuenosAires triangle).

7. As always, today’s pornography reveals tomorrow’s media. The future of
general media content, the place culture is going, is Voyeurweb.com: the
convergence of
self-authored shamelessness, narcissism and vulgarity -- a self-argument in
favor of censorship. As Adorno liked to remind us, we have a responsibility
to protect people from
their worst impulses. If people aren’t able to censor their worst instincts,
then they need to be censored by others wiser and more disciplined than

8. There is something of the philosophical assumptions of early Marx and
Rousseau in the digital utopian movement, particularly in its holy trinity
of online community,
individual creativity and common intellectual property ownership. Most of
all, it’s in the marriage of abstract theory and absolute faith in the
virtue of human nature that lends
the digital utopians their intellectual debt to intellectual Casanovas like
young Marx and Rousseau.

9. How to resist digital utopianism? Orwell’s focus on language is the most
effective antidote. The digital utopians needs to be fought word-for-word,
delusion-by-delusion.  As an opening gambit, let’s focus on the meaning of
four key words in the digital utopian lexicon: a) author b) audience c)
community d) elitism.

10. The cultural consequence of uncontrolled digital development will be
social vertigo. Culture will be spinning and whirling and in continual flux.
Everything will be in motion;
everything will be opinion. This social vertigo of ubiquitous opinion was
recognized by Plato. That’s why he was of the opinion that opinionated
artists should be banned from his

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