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A truly terrible book written with god intent yet a lack of true understanding into the emotional and social values of interaction in the online domain. The only good thing about this book is that is serves as a suitably high profile example of a vocal antiagonist in the debate of online value.

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this book is not really about the rise of "the amateur", empowered by the internet and web 2.0, but rather a defense of "the expert" and the culture of expertise. in keen's view, established notions of "truth and trust" are being overturned by these democratizing technologies. keen is probably correct about the latter but fails to argue convincingly that truth is any more elusive than it was before. 

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I reviewed of this book in blog and video form.
written blog:
Jennifer A. Jones

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Often described as a polemic, "The Cult of the Amateur" is simply a screed against societal and economic change. It is a moralistic bombast against the populist notion of cooperation and collaboration in favor of a single point of reference determined and espoused by an expert. The author pulls out all of the goblins: narcissism, lying, thievery, gambling and pornography; to warn readers that their culture is under siege by know-nothing friends and neighbors bent on self-expression and actualization at the cost of a national dialog. To believe the premise, our society will unravel — even our economy is at stake! — if my neighbors and I allow ourselves to chronicle the times we live in without heeding the checks and balances of experts. We are, with each visit to Wikipedia, with each blog post and each download; jeopardizing jobs in traditional publishing, distribution and media. What purports to be a defense of our national character ends up being a defense of the hayday of mass media where three networks and a handful of newspapers made the news and controlled the water-cooler-conversations through a self-chosen circle of "experts." I have found it impossible to separate the words on the page from their outspoken author, Andrew Keen. Lacking direction and focus, Keen leaps from conclusion to conclusion often contradicting himself: as in his mourning the loss of niche knowledge among the staff of Tower Records and lambasting the uncontrolled blogosphere for perpetuating a never ending series of narrow interests. Keen’s academic pedigree shines through each sentence and illuminates his general distrust of the common man. This book is an unconscious paean to media darlings of a by-gone era: the condescending, idealistic academician as talking-head. Yes. Gambling can be dangerous and pornography is not for children. No. The crowd is not imbued with wisdom. Our society is experiencing significant growing pains and experimenting with new technologies and freedoms. Through seven chapters, Keen focuses only on the negative consequences of technological advances and condemns our innate human curiosity and expression as irrevocably bad. In the eighth and final chapter, Keen finally allows that there are benefits and acknowledges that we may yet reign in this beast of Web 2.0 and realize our own folly. He might be right. We may yet welcome experts into our conversations, should they decide to participate rather than instruct. Doing so will strike a balance between narcissistic echoes in the blogosphere and self-referential experts espousing their wisdom. It is a bit of a strain to think how Keen, after seven chapters of self-righteously divisive language, can make that allowance; but the final chapter is a welcomed return to reality and pragmatism. If you must read this book, I highly recommend checking it out from an American library—where royalties are not paid. 

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