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Critiquing Andrew Keen

Keen was the focus of last week's lectures with his general criticism of new media, including citizen journalism and other user-generated content. He claimed that these people only add clutter to the Internet because they don't have the professional training that working journalists and other masters of the field have.

Keen does have a point in that regard. The most popular videos on YouTube aren't those created by professionals, but amateur-quality videos that offer little substance, including "Evolution of Dance." Other popular videos include music videos and other content that entertains rather than informs.

However, Keen overlooks the impact users have with mainstream media, as people like Dan Gillmor are ready to point out how the citizen is proving to be an influential force. It was the blogosphere that caught Trent Lott's pro-segregation comments in 2002 and CBS' reporting mishaps regarding George W. Bush's military record in 2004. YouTube became a household name when a campaign opponent of George Allen posted a video where he used the term "macaca," costing Allen his Senate seat.

Keen's arguments certainly position him as an elitist or stuck to old ideas. New media can be a successful counterpart to the traditional forms if they're utilized for democracy and not simply as a space where people can watch babies laughing and cats playing pianos. While they may get a laugh, they support Keen's argument about new media hurting us instead of helping us.