Thoughts on Cult of the Amateur

I’ve been reading Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen.  This is basically a rant book, saying that the democratizing of media production is eviscerating our culture.  I disagree, and would say podcasting, videoblogging and blogging are actually arising because of the poor job main stream media has done in protecting our cultural values and reflecting different people’s point of view.

Let’s take a brief look at TV.  How many reality shows do you see? How many original story lines do you see?  Let’s look at Hollywood.  Because of the money involved, they would rather make new movies based on children’s comic books and cartoons than listen to and risk anything on original voices and story lines.

Mr. Keen decries that consumer generated blogs are poor quality and we should leave them to the professionals; conversely, user generated content is making it so no one can make a living at creating content for a price.  Yet people are seeking to get their POV heard, because they don’t see anyone else  talking to or about them.

I think if we were hearing more voices in traditional media- be that newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, or movies that didn’t sound like the same old stuff we’ve heard for years, or a commercialization of some phenomena or trend, there would be less need to produce your own internet TV show.  I have friends that do this- part of it is they like it; part of it is I’m sure it serves as an online resume of their work and talent, or as Mr Keen would argue, lack thereof.  But I doubt people are really losing their jobs in Hollywood as a direct result of Goodnight Burbank or TikiBar TV, Something to be Desired, or Galacticast.

I’ll write more about this as i go through the book, for now, I am just annoyed at the book.  I seriously believe that if Main Stream media had not gone to the “quick and dirty” low production value, not valuing anything that looked like a quality story line years ago; if they took chances on new voices rather than always choosing the safe, bland vanilla, non-remarkable thing over and over, internet TV and Podcasting would not be as popular as they are.

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