Bashing the Blogosphere

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by Whymrhymer

In Sunday’s “Between the Lines” column on ZDNet, bloggers had the opportunity to preview some of the thoughts of Andrew Keen, the author of a soon to be released (June 5th) book titled “The Cult of the Amateur.” The subtitle of Keen’s book is very telling: “how the democratization of the digital world is assaulting our economy, our culture, and our values;” the democratization of the digital world is, of course, a reference to bloggers, specifically non-professional bloggers.

Add to that title/subtitle pairing the following quote from Keen’s book and you’ll begin to get the feeling that Keen is no more than an intellectual snob; an elitist who, one might surmise, would love to see restrictions placed on who is allowed to publish a blog and perhaps even what they would be allowed to say.

Here’s the ‘money quote’ from Keen’s new book:

“. . . instead of creating masterpieces, these millions and millions of exuberant monkeys [Internet users] — many with no more talent in the creative arts than our primate cousins — are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity.”

If you don’t feel sufficiently insulted and/or diminished from that small quote, I encourage you ‘no talent monkeys’ to run out and pre-purchase your copy of Keen’s book — let him finish the job.

The ZDNet columnist who provides us with this review, as well as his own thoughts on non-professional bloggers, is Dan Farber and while he does not appear to be totally in sync with Mr. Keen’s negative assessment of the blogosphere, he apparently does agree that there is a lot of “noise” out here. Here’s a quote from Mr. Farber:

“Along with the millions of voices churning out blog posts and the long tail of conversations spawned by them comes the noise, and the noise to signal ratio is way out of whack.

The assessment of non-professional bloggers as nothing more than noisemakers certainly broke this camel’s back — that might even be worse than being considered an exuberant, untalented monkey inhabiting a “digital forest of mediocrity.”

In my view, the professionals such as Mr Keene and Mr. Farber are not as worried about the quality of life in the blogosphere as they are about their jobs — jobs that to a major extent rely on that same blogosphere; if I made my living as they do I’d probably be worried too. I’m sure they both realize that any problems there are with the blogosphere will resolve themselves over time; cream will always rise to the top and the majority of readers of blogs will continue to be smart enough to know when facts are being twisted to make a point. And while misinformation may prevail in some (or many) cases in the blogosphere that is also certainly no less true of the main-stream media . . . and it is especially true of columnists and commentators, many of whom have an abundance of opinions, an overabundance of hidden agendas and, consequently, little obeisance to the straightforward reporting of unbiased fact.

Links:

ZDNet’s Between the Lines: Reflections on the first decade of blogging

The Blog Herald: Blogging Making Publications Bans Impossible To Enforce?

From the blogosphere:

Squash: 10 things I learnt about blogging in a year

Webomatica: I Don’t Read Newspapers, But I’d Read Your Blog

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

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2 thoughts on “Bashing the Blogosphere

  1. Any blogger that has been at it for a while realizes that it’s by no means instant success and instant readership. Comments most of all are a really good check and balance. If a blogger goes out there and post something really inane, people will call them on it, in a public manner.

    And to any professional writer who is concerned about this dumbing down of the ‘net, there’s hardly anything stopping you from starting their own blog and getting your own voice out there. I’d think anybody who writes for a living should have a huge advantage over all us amateurs. All the software is free. I write a blog in addition to holding a full time job. I say go for it! We need more quality writing in the blogosphere.

  2. I agree, more quality writing in the blogosphere could only be a good thing and, in fact, Keene himself, consummate professional writer that he is sure he is, will soon be blogging for ZDNet.

    My argument with Mr Keene, however, is base on my belief that the blogosphere AS IT IS is a beautiful thing; any Jack or Jane Doe can put his or her thoughts out there and perhaps pick up a following of people who either like their thoughts and want to publicly agree with them or disagree with their thoughts and want to argue with them. THAT is (to me at any rate) the REAL blogosphere — and it should not be, as Keene SEEMS to be suggesting, turned into some private reserve only for ‘professional’ social critics, however well-spoken they may be.

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