<videovortex> [Fwd: the anti web 2.0 manifesto]

Annet Dekker annet at montevideo.nl
Thu Sep 27 17:21:18 CEST 2007

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	the anti web 2.0 manifesto
Date: 	Thu, 27 Sep 2007 16:49:04 +0200
From: 	Malka <malka at montevideo.nl>
To: 	Annet Dekker <annet at montevideo.nl>

Andrew Keen, creator of www.aftertv.com 
<http://andrewkeen.typepad.com/aftertv/>, wrote a new book "The Cult of 
the Amateur", which exposes the grave consequences of today’s new 
participatory Web 2.0 and reveals how it threatens our values. The key 
points of this book are summarized by Keen in THE ANTI WEB 2.0 MANIFESTO 
<http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2007-April/002435.html> below.

1. The cult of the amateur is digital utopianism’s most seductive 
delusion. This cult promises that the latest media technology in the 
form of blogs, wikis and podcasts will enable everyone to become widely 
read writers, journalists, movie directors and music artists. It 
suggests, mistakenly, that everyone has something interesting to say.

2. The digital utopian much heralded “democratization” of media will 
have a destructive impact upon culture, particularly upon criticism. 
“Good taste” is, as Adorno never tired of telling us, undemocratic. 
Taste must reside with an elite (“truth makers”) of historically 
progressive cultural critics able to determine, on behalf of the public, 
the value of a work-of-art. The digital utopia seeks to flatten this 
elite into an ochlocracy. The danger, therefore, is that the future will 
be tasteless.

3. To imagine the dystopian future, we need to reread Adorno, as well as 
Kafka and Borges (the Web 2.0 dystopia can be mapped to that triangular 
space between Frankfurt, Prague and Buenos Aires). Unchecked technology 
threatens to undermine reality and turn media into a rival version of 
life, a 21st century version of “The Castle” or “The Library of Babel”. 
This might make a fantastic movie or short piece of fiction. But real 
life, like art, shouldn’t be fantasy; it shouldn’t be fiction.

4. A particularly unfashionable thought: big media is not bad media. The 
big media engine of the Hollywood studios, the major record labels and 
publishing houses has discovered and branded great 20th century popular 
artists of such as Alfred Hitchcock, Bono and W.G. Sebald (the “Vertigo” 
three). It is most unlikely that citizen media will have the marketing 
skills to discover and brand creative artists of equivalent prodigy.

5. Let’s think differently about George Orwell. Apple’s iconic 1984 
Super Bowl commercial is true: 1984 will not be like Nineteen 
Eighty-Four the message went. Yes, the “truth” about the digital future 
will be the absence of the Orwellian Big Brother and the Ministry of 
Truth. Orwell’s dystopia is the dictatorship of the State; the Web 2.0 
dystopia is the dictatorship of the author. In the digital future, 
everyone will think they are Orwell (the movie might be called: Being 
George Orwell).

6. Digital utopian economists Chris Anderson have invented a 
theoretically flattened market that they have christened the “Long 
Tail”. It is a Hayekian cottage market of small media producers 
industriously trading with one another. But Anderson’s “Long Tail” is 
really a long tale. The real economic future is something akin to Google 
a vertiginous media world in which content and advertising become so 
indistinguishable that they become one and the same (more grist to that 
Frankfurt-Prague-BuenosAires triangle).

7. As always, today’s pornography reveals tomorrow’s media. The future 
of general media content, the place culture is going, is Voyeurweb.com: 
the convergence of self-authored shamelessness, narcissism and vulgarity 
-- a self-argument in favor of censorship. As Adorno liked to remind us, 
we have a responsibility to protect people from their worst impulses. If 
people aren’t able to censor their worst instincts, then they need to be 
censored by others wiser and more disciplined than themselves.

8. There is something of the philosophical assumptions of early Marx and 
Rousseau in the digital utopian movement, particularly in its holy 
trinity of online community,individual creativity and common 
intellectual property ownership. Most of all, it’s in the marriage of 
abstract theory and absolute faith in the virtue of human nature that 
lends the digital utopians their intellectual debt to intellectual 
Casanovas like young Marx and Rousseau.

9. How to resist digital utopianism? Orwell’s focus on language is the 
most effective antidote. The digital utopians needs to be fought 
word-for-word, phrase-by-phrase, delusion-by-delusion. As an opening 
gambit, let’s focus on the meaning of four key words in the digital 
utopian lexicon: a) author b) audience c) community d) elitism.

10. The cultural consequence of uncontrolled digital development will be 
social vertigo. Culture will be spinning and whirling and in continual 
flux. Everything will be in motion; everything will be opinion. This 
social vertigo of ubiquitous opinion was recognized by Plato. That’s why 
he was of the opinion that opinionated artists should be banned from his 

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