Keen isn't exactly keen on today's internet. Neither am I.
When I think about a democracy, it consists of three main components: first we have a specific culture, secondly our culture is devised of social values and traditional values and lastly we have an economy. And currently our democracy (much thanks to the previous 8 years) is undergoing an era of participatory politics. Everyone wants a heard voice. People want to participate, be actively involved, and do whatever means necessary to regain trust in their democracy. Mainstream media is clearly the one aggregate between elites and the hardworking man, that allows us workin' folk to keep in check the politicians and CEOs.But in order for society to successfully USE media towards democracy, we have to establish some form of trust. Without the trust, society cannot fully commit itself to the watchdog functions of the media (nor the voice or any other form of functions). I understand this is a very liberal assessment of what a citizen needs to engage in our democracy, but these have become liberal times, my friend.
Along with this new era of participation has arisen the fad of internet, the ultimate global community. And more importantly, Web 2.0, updated user friendly virtual world, blank-slated and waiting for the anybody citizen to taint.
So what is so seductive about Web 2.0 in democratic terms? Easy, it's participatory. Media isn't just for those fat-cats of Washington, because finally an answer to our prayers of romantic journalism have arrived. No longer will the press be run by cash hungry political lobbyists -- no instead it will be ran by true romantics, out to protect and preserve our very democracy! This is the very white knight our democracy has so badly desired - nay, needed. Or is it?
This is where me and my buddy Keen come in.The answer in short? No. The internet (specifically Web 2.0) is not the answer to our prayers. It's merely a myriad of voices without a single person to hear them. Keen exemplifies this with his experiences of Camp FOO stating "Everyone was..broadcasting themselves, but no one was listening." Have we gone too far in participation that we've completely lost ourselves to it? Hilary Clinton put forth her nomination for presidency on Youtube, hoping to open with it an "open discussion" about what we "common folk" consider some of the greatest challenges we face. However her "discussion" merely became the subjection to an enormous amount of people hollering and bickering without actually engaging themselves in intelligent conversation. These people were so worried about their voices being heard that no one was ever actually listening to them. It seems our white knight has become, dare I say it, far too participatory overriding any hints of comprehendable engagement.
Before I go on, I should probably mention this Keen guy. Andrew Keen is an ex-"interneteur" who came to realize the flaws of Web 2.0 and now argues the premise that the internet (Web 2.0) will destroy our culture. His book The Cult of the Amateur describes this cult as a sea of amateurs who are endangering our most vital information gatherers of today's media and using Web 2.0 specifically as it's primary weapon. While reading this book, I felt it was truly well-debated and I couldn't help agree with him. (Although perhaps that makes me more of a prick than anything).
This "Cult of the Amateur" brings forth 2 very critical arguments in Keen's debate. First, bloggers and civil journalists are nothing more than broke amateurs. Monetary motivations may not seem ideal, but for most of us, financial commitments often rule our legitimacy toward work. Because our new founded liberal democracy relies heavily on citizen trust, how does the Web 2.0 fad continue to thrive? It's truly mind-blowing. Instead of trusting paid professionals who undergo thorough editing and input processes, we are immersed in this aforementioned sea of amateurs who can post and produce literally anything they want at little to no cost professionally. And with the mass amounts of this stuff popping up daily, the noise is beginning to become a little thick. The average citizen cannot decipher legitimacy from amateur, and online lovers are naive to think otherwise. Something that really exemplifies this, was the Clinton-Obama scandal, where the Clintonites decided to spread some lie about Obama. These Clintonoids purposely spread this, purposely played on the naive trust we have for the internet and were nearly successful in doing so. Yet still we consider this Web 2.0 to be the new face of media? Hardly.
Secondly, before we go to praise this new found source of information, think hard about where the bloggers and civil journalists get their information. The already deemed "obsolete" media. Newspapers and REAL journalists still provide a majority of the actual information given to our bias amateur friends and these online organizations are nothing more than a hub filled with opinion and backlash. These articles and blurbs of information are sliced and diced and stripped of any ethical grounding for our own cognitive dissonance. Where's the trust in that?
Look, its simple, until this Web 2.0 can find some type of ethical grounding, it's going to continue to destroy debate and further diminish the ability for people to intelligently participate in democracy. It's hindering us, not helping us. And I certainly hope that people do begin to realize that the internet and bloggers should be distinguished as more of the pub-op to the paid professionals doing the dirty work (and getting none of the credit).