Keen vs Colbert

Ironically, given that he claims that “the internet is destroying our culture”, I keep noticing Andrew Keen thanks to the web.

I missed an opportunity to hear him speak in London last night. (And how did I hear about the event, before and during? Twitter, of course). The evening was, to put it mildly, not well received by my contemporaries. Tom Coates wants to put him on the naughty step, Euan Semple called him a troll and Llloyd Davis called him a liar. In fact, all three posts have masses of insights into the night (not least Lloyds, which captures some great quotes).

So, I missed it. I found a small consolation while reading around today, I discovered that Andrew Keen appeared on the Colbert Report a while ago. Now, I don’t watch TV. I do have access to the internet though, which is just as well as it means I get to watch this segment.

Let’s step over the bit about the internet being worse than the Nazis (Keen only recently discovered Godwin’s law, after all) and begin with his thoughts on the internet.

“The problem with the internet is it’s making it increasingly difficult for artists to earn a living, because everyone is stealing.”

Wow. Really? Isn’t it making new business models possible too? Keen can’t have heard of the long tail I guess.

“The internet is trivialising culture to such an extent that everyone is broadcasting, everyone is writing blogs, everyone is putting music on the web…”

Well there’s your problem. Too many of the wrong people are making stuff. And while we’re thinking about bloggers, Keen says this of blogging and objectivity

“I think we need objective, professional journalists who responsibly collect the news…”

and so far I’m agreeing. Of course we do. In a small way it even reminds me of Ghandi’s famous response on being asked what he thought of Western civilization,”that would be nice”. Keen spoils all this by completing the sentence though.

“…rather than anonymous bloggers, who are often in the pay of corporations [or] foreign governments.”

Now he’s lost me on so many counts.

  • Professional journalists and bloggers (anonymous or otherwise) are somehow mutually exclusive?
  • Personally, I’m a blogger, and although I draw a salary from a corporation, they don’t (directly) pay me to blog. They’d pay me regardless of whether I blog or not, though hopefully blogging helps me do my job better. I blog as a person who happens to work for a corporation rather than on behalf of the corporation (if this is news to you, check the very bottom line of the page). I cant help feeling this would still cause Keen some problems.
  • In the pay of foreign governments? What’s the relevance? Are we in FUD territory here or what?

I’m glad I didn’t pay to see him speak last night.

Update: Adriana comes to the realisation that offline can’t handle trolls.

6 replies on “Keen vs Colbert”

  1. He’s a foul example of humanity – living off the thing he’s attempting to attack and destroy.

    More to the point though, he’s a fool – like a stone age man bemoaning the discovery of fire, he’ll die out like all of the rest of the Neanderthals. What upsets me is the amount of coverage his troll-like behaviour prompts (although clearly, I’ll let you off this post). He makes his living off pressing the buttons of the people who give him the coverage he devours.

    I look forward to a time when everyone’s forgotten the luddite.

  2. I caught it on TV the other night. He came off as being contrarian just for the sake of it, and without much data or insight.

    Amazon recommended his book to me – glad I didn’t bite :-)

  3. My publisher recommended Keen’s book to me. She obviously likes the premise that amateur content is a bad thing since she’s helping to produce “professional” content. As as one of her authors who earns a living writing the stuff she publishes, I’d like to to think that what I produce is of higher quality than the free stuff on the Web. I’m having trouble convincing myself these days, and that gets pretty depressing sometimes.

    But I haven’t read Keen’s book yet. I saw him on Colbert and on two other television appearances — can’t remember where — and was completely turned off by the man. Although he’s out there promoting his book, I think he’d sell a lot more copies if he’d hide in a hole and keep his personality where potential readers can’t see it.

    I’ll probably get around to his book one day, but it isn’t on my short list.

  4. I nearly provided a link to the book, but decided against it. In fact, I nearly didn’t link to his blog either, to save him the potential embarrassment of being confronted with the power of the amateur web.

    The guy used to work in the valley, so either he had in head in the soft Californian sand or he really gets this stuff, and is being contrarian. I do really have trouble taking him at face value, since the

    Maria, my best wishes with your book. I’d be interested to ask your publisher if she thinks there is potentially professional content hiding out there in the heads of people who start as amateurs. The first (but not the only) example that comes to mind is Tom Reynolds (no relation) started as a blogger and had a book-of-the-blog (Blood Sweat and Tea) published.

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