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

Federico Bonelli freddbomba at gmail.com
Sat Sep 29 09:50:01 CEST 2007

Hash: SHA1


I have read the assertions quoted in your post in disbelief :)
  I have some counter examples and some reflections.

>> Andrew Keen, creator of www.aftertv.com wrote:

>>> 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.

The argument is deceptive. It imagines a frozen landscape of  
"producers" and a technology that enables the "propagation" of what  
they have to produce. That is an obsolete paradigm. Culture is not  
about production but about processes of exchange. We should abandon  
once and for all the language made in marketing and corporate PR  
department when thinking about the cultural landscape and apply  
categories and well defined concepts to our inquiries and not  
slogans. Web 2.0 and "cult of the amateur" are slogans.

Facts are:
1. in a network were all nodes are equally accessible a "amateur"  
that would remain isolated in the meat-space will fast build a  
network of pairs. The latter is a unit that learns and as such will  
grow in knowledge. The fragmentation and the doubtfullness of this  
available knowledge will lead the community to grow antidotes to  
"general opinion" and lead to application practices and self-check  
2. talent and passion are wide spread attributes of human beings.  
Look around you and note how many people you know have a talent. Take  
this number and divide by the number of people you know. Is it more  
close to 1/1000000 (the star system) or to 1/30?
3. XX century invented and exploited the star-system; XXI will not be  
characterized by global heroes but by local (being part of a  
community or recognized as such from a group of ears) and virtual  
ones. In the XXIth century corporates (different ones) are already  
exploiting this new idea leaving the battle for the big numbers of  
receivers to get into the battle for the big networks of pairs. From  
radio ads to myspace based propaganda, and is fast evolving to other  

>>> 2. The digital utopian much heralded "democratization" of media will
>>> have a destructive impact upon culture, particularly upon criticism.

This is highly wrong
The major impact over "critical thought" has been made made by  
factors that are largely independent from the "digital" culture and  
are instead precise policies: education, mass-media and corporate  
Education have set aside programmatically the traditional ways the  
necessary instruments of critical thinking are passed over: dead  
languages, history , euclidean geometry. These have not been  
substituted by a equally powerful set of conceptual tools and  
practices. Learn to make a better  citizen has become learn to be a  
better consumer. We don't encourage thinking, we do training. The new  
education has been laid in the '50 by behaviorists paid by the US  
department of defense.

Mass-media have made a show out of information, focusing in the last  
40 years more and more on emotive reactions and less and less on data  
and critical analysis. As such Hollywood is far from being an  
acceptable reference for "quality". Again, take the amount of films  
produced by hollywood last year that you can consider art and divide  
by the number of films tout-court.

Corporate culture have pushed to the limit of insanity protective  
schemes on intellectual property and secrecy of productive processes.  
This mine the possibility of critical thought from it's bases and  
invokes a philology.

The only counterbalances to this derive come from "self organizing  
chaotic digitalized culture". As new Lorenzo Valla unmasking the  
Costantine gift as a fake, millions of individuals are questioning  
the bases of what we call culture, society, politics and art.
Some counter examples are:
* wikipedia (were criticism is somehow pushed to a totally insane  
level of paranoia)
* Free software movement and free culture focus on accessibility of  
the sources (note the philologically correctness of the approach  
especially when applied to education)
* DIY groups and their learning practices (learn by doing, learn in  
groups, learn to apply, teach to improve your knowledge) emerging in  
all fields

>>> "Good taste" is, as Adorno never tired of telling us, undemocratic.

who has still the "prejudice" of democracy? Iraqis? Europeans?  
Italians? Dutch? Nowadays if something is considered "non-democratic"  
i breath!

>> 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.

The rest of the Aesthetic arguments are totally gratuitous to the  
limit of being frivolous. I think that the realm of Aesthetics does  
not endure strict and stable definitions of work-of-art neither  
should. So, to keep this unacceptable "money-centric" perspective to  
disprove itself...
See the amount of money is made in the Netherlands with Van Gog now?  
And that is while he died without selling a single painting? So? What  
is taste? How you learn quality? Is "global" taste more important  
than "local" taste? Yes? For who? for large numbers producers and  
sellers on a global market, or for such a thing like "art"?

>>> 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.

This is a nice example of natural dialectic argument ad omnia. At  
this point I doubt of the existance of mr. Keen and of his book and I  
start laughing. Indeed the rest of the provocations listed after  
don't deserve much thought to be archived as laughable.

I just might suggest to throw mr. Keen notes on Adorno in the toilet  
and reread Karl Popper.

By the way, Popper (refer to "Conjectures and Refutations" for ex.)  
contains very strong antidotes to the fascist hem platonic assumption  
that "Truth" exists,  I mean SCIENTIFIC truth. What were you talking  

Plato republic is by the way not the first example of "democratic  
thought" but of it's opposite.

bah what an amount of nonsense!


I had troubles in posting this so now, after the messages of Adrian  
and Jay is clearer to me why the arguments are so weak. Is fictional  
material creeated at art to fill prime time debates on CNN-ABC-FOX  
whatever. Is not serious, is seriously negative disinformation.  
Thanks  for pointing out.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.3 (Darwin)


More information about the videovortex mailing list