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Andrew Keen: rebel without intelligent reasoning.

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Clearly, Andrew Keen enjoys being a contrarian. If he didn’t, the absolute idiocy of his statements would have driven him shamefully from the academic community.

Keen takes a shotgun approach to argumentation, scattering a slough of weak reasoning and logical fallacies in his fruitless quest to return to the days of old; when “experts” were the only people qualified to speak on anything.

But Keen’s world is one wrought with questions. Who nominates these experts? What qualifies them?  Should only those who graduate from ivy leagues be considered experts in their given fields? After all, they are, seemingly, better suited.

In a world where information is free and widely available, anyone can become an expert in any number of subjects. The internet has given birth to a variety of “mini-experts,” who are center their knowledge in a few different areas as opposed to just one. These people are sometimes self-taught. What is wrong with that? After all, the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Abigail Adams were self-taught.

There do exist valid points to be made about the negative aspects of the world wide web. Every medium has its downsides. But the case that the web has somehow decayed global morals is extremely weak.  Pornography, hate and bigotry have been around since mankind has, and have showed up in every medium they’ve created.

Have the dissemination of information and the low barriers of entry done damage to the public? In some ways, they have. Any technological advance comes with this sort of push back. The invention of the printing press came with the ability of ideologues and charlatans to print spew their ideas. They can use the Internet in the same way. But unlike the days of the printing press, the low barrier to entry on the internet allows a more fluid and immediate communication.

But it’s undoubtedly done more good then harm. This medium has allowed for the rise of citizen journalists, a term Mr. Keen undoubtedly sneers at.  But the fact is that one doesn’t need to be an “expert” in journalism to report. In fact, anyone with a cell phone can now record momentous events with poignancy and terseness.

It has also enabled unprecedented change in the political spectrum. Egypt and Syria have demonstrated this in the fullest. They have allowed for activists to network and greased the wheels of revolution, getting information out when large media outlets were stilted by the state.

More and more, these citizen journalists are breaking stories. They’re also playing an important role in the arena of editorials, increasingly growing in their prominence as pundits. Regular people have talked politics in smoky coffee houses for centuries, and now they are able to do so on a grandiose scale.

Citizen journalists have a greater possibility of breaking through to people who balk at talking to traditional journalists. There has, after all, been a rise in distrust of major media outlets in the past few years.

Citizen journalism is a nebulous mass, writhing in the ether, unrestrained by the red tape of corporate news. It is everywhere and nowhere. This is its advantage. And as bloggers churn out more content, they gain reputation. It is these reputations that discern credible newsmen from ideologues. The differences are typically easy to point out.

The web is fraught with sites that preach to the choir, disseminating misinformation. There remain countless sites dedicated to the “birther movement”- a delusional, ragtag group who believe Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States. But these sites lack credibility, and are nearly universally dismissed.

Essentially, the audience sorts itself out. People understand what they are reading, and the so-called experts can be corrupted just as easily as non-experts can. Experts, like bloggers and citizen journalists, are people. They’ve just been given a layer of credibility from some organization. That doesn’t mean anything. After all, Stephen Glass was one of those supposed experts, hired at one of the most prestigious publications of all. He was a fraud.

The web has allowed for tremendous innovation. The way journalism is conducted has evolved, giving the readership an increased editorial role. It has allowed for easier cultivation of sources.

The world Andrew Keen would like us to live is a scary one, dominated by oligarchies who control the ebb and flow of information.  He would cripple the flow of information and curtail the smooth flow of information. Mr. Keen would make it harder for both journalists to do their jobs and for citizens to enjoy their work. He is a man blissfully unaware of the amazing things going on around him in the world, and he’d like to remain that way (except he uses every social networking site- a true hypocrite). Good riddance to bad rubbish.

If Andrew Keen wants to stay off the internet, let him. It would be one less screechy, misguided voice to read.

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Written by kolchak

February 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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