There is a very interesting debate taking place on various blogs related to the book by Andrew Keen called “The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture and our values.”
I first read about it on Ewan McIntosh’s edu-blog and he points us to the excellent review by Dave Weinberger. There are a lot of twists and turns in the arguments that I will not go into and considerable merit in both points of view (for and against). This really is a topic that we need to focus more attention on and explore further.
How does it affect us? Here in the UNU Media Studio, where we are promoting the Do-it-yourself approach to creating learning resources, this is a topic we often talk about. We want the average professor, the average student, the average anybody to be able to create and share their learning materials. But this is much harder to do than it is to imagine.
So essentially, the issue here when looking at Keen’s book, from my perspective, is not so much whether the Internet is changing culture, economy and values in good and bad ways, but more simply a question of whether these new technologies and the associated shifts in culture, values, economy, etc, can be harnessed to make the world a better place – both online and off?
This brings us back to Richard Florida’s 2002 book on the Rise of the Creative Class (in general, not just via the Internet) where he warns that poverty, unemployment, and other social ills may worsen with the rise of the creative class, without appropriate human interventions. Sometimes I worry that we may lose sight of this with all these super cool technologies and wonderful new content.