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October 27, 2011

I’m doing thesis research and I’ve got my nose in The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen. I’m only in the first chapter and I’m finding snippets I love and snippets I hate. Here’s one I thought I’d share:

The Web 2.0 revolution has peddled the promise of bringing more truth to more people–more depth of information, more global perspective, more unbiased opinion from dispassionate observers. But this is all a smokescreen. What the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment (16).

What do you all think? As bloggers, do we use our small spaces of the internet to spout “superficial observations” or are we digging in? Is the blogosphere global? Are we just using our platforms to advertise ourselves? To what end?

[Edited to add: The book reads almost sensationalistic rather than academic, which got me thinking, What am I reading?!  I did a quick search and found this review: “The book is provocative, but its argument is unfortunately weakened by the fact that Keen is so over-the-top and presents more of a caricature of a position than carefully reasoned discourse.” I’ve stumbled upon quite a heated conversation, huh?]

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2011 3:53 pm

    i think it is an extremely mixed bag. i’ve found very superficial blogs, and blogs that are so deep that they’re over my head – part of the beauty of the internet is that you can find a pocket/sector for everything. i don’t think the generalizations on the part of the author are very fair at all.

    i don’t think we use our platforms to advertise any more than you are advertising by living your everyday life. if you have created your business on the internet, of course you’re advertising. if you’re just a person seeking connection, you’re advertising, but no more than you would be at, say, a meetup group you might be attending for the first time. what we do with blogs and online communication may be different than the traditional norm, but is still very much just communication.

    • October 27, 2011 4:13 pm

      Great point, lolasangria. I find generalizations such as these to be incredibly off-putting but I do think it’s a good way to start the conversation.

      I want to pull out a point you make. You say, “i don’t think we use our platforms to advertise any more than you are advertising by living your everyday life.” I would disagree. I think some folks, bloggers especially, use social networking platforms to advertise themselves moreso than IRL. For instance, you wouldn’t walk into a public space full of your peers, acquaintances, and some strangers and say, “HEY GUYS! I have a story to tell/opinion to share/product to hawk! Let me show you!”

      • October 27, 2011 5:43 pm

        i hear that, and i suppose you are correct. i remember something @rachaelgk linked to the other day about people “cold-emailing” popular/successful bloggers for help with projects and the like – i thought it was strange because it would never occur to me to ask for assistance from someone i didn’t have a relationship with. my response is tainted by my personal slant of viewing the internet as a community and remembering that we are all humans behind these screens – and there are definitely people that forget that key fact. no, you wouldn’t walk into a room and say any such thing with no prompts – however, when faced with social circumstance we are certainly all trying to share and make connections. i think blogging and social media just offers us a different way to begin those connections. i have a feeling i may be thinking of this all in a different sense than you intended…but those are my two cents.

  2. phampants permalink
    October 27, 2011 4:02 pm

    I think with Web 2.0, social media & the way the Internet is going, it is causing us to feel more important & entitled than we actually are/deserve. Some people feel like they have a blog/twitter handle/youtube account & they feel like a celebrity badass cuz they have X number of followers.

    I’ll even use myself as an example because I’m not above anyone. If anything, I’m part of the digital machine. Some people found it lucky that I got to test drive the Chevy Volt thanks to Klout Perks. Because of that, I was featured in the WSj & now I have another car to test drive. You can see it two ways: 1. I’m leveraging my social media skills, connections and creativity to connect with brands, people & opening new doors. The other way to see it is that I have sold out, became a corporate tool and a direct marketing advertisers for big brands. Call it brand ambassadors if you may, but it’s the soft way to name it.

    I’m neither and I’m both. I am not a celebrity, someone famous or a badass. I’m just a person who goes by Pham (or Phampants) that happens to get slightly lucky through video and am starting to leverage brands to provide me with opportunities. I have also sold out being a brand ambassador to brands that I support and am indifferent with, but hoping to open more doors in the future.

    I am not entitled to anything. The Internet is has open doors for me that I wouldn’t have otherwise, but without it, I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things I have done. If anything, I owe the Internet for what I have done and for more opportunities down the line. Internet has helped introverts like me to be more extroverted and show the talents that I have.

    However, I do not believe in the “I OWN MY SHIT” crap (pun unintended) and I should get this/that and whatever else because I’m awesome. Yes, the Internet has leveled some playing fields, but it also has made it worse than others.

    Truth be told, 95% of the stuff posted is crap. And that’s just my personal stuff. Producing content is one thing, but producing quality, memorable & great content is becoming a lost art. Blame the Internet or all the entrepreneurs for “building their brand” and “beefing up their portfolios” for this.

    So yes. I do agree with the statement above, I still believe that there is at least 5% of great stuff out there that brought more truth, information, global perspective and unbiased opinions.

    • October 27, 2011 4:08 pm

      Pham, I’m really glad you raised this point. I, too, struggle with the fine line between being a marketing tool and simply supporting companies/organizations/products I truly believe in. (That’s the litmus test I now use — do I love this product enough to sell out for it?) And I love what you said in the very last part of your comment- there is value to some blogs and other internet content, but it’s a relatively small percentage compared to all the noise and corporate smut we encounter most of the time.
      Thank you for providing your insight and articulating some of the things I’ve been wanting to say but hadn’t yet found the words for.

      • phampants permalink
        October 27, 2011 4:22 pm

        What it comes down to is that everyone wants to be recognized. The issue is that yes, everyone should be recognized, but recognized as a person or a true achievement. However, everyone is not entitled recognition, deserves to be recognized, or recognized for what they think they should be recognized for. This entitlement for recognition has exploded on the Internet & diluted everything that is out there.

        The issue I’m having now with my online identity, not that it’s different with my IRL one, is the direction of where my voice is going. It’s not the introverted voice as it was before but I’m not an extroverted person to change it completely. However, the one balanced I’ve found so far is that if cool opportunities comes to me, I do my best to share this with those who has given me this opportunity. Particularly, my subscribers, followers and friends.

        It’s not a perfect solution but a start as I try to find a more balanced voice.

        It’s not a perfect solution, but a start as I

  3. Mariel permalink
    October 27, 2011 5:41 pm

    I agree with the other commenters. It is a mixed bag. It took a lot of following and unfollowing of many blogs before I discovered the few that really piqued my interest. Some of them are niche blogs, some are personal “life” blogs, but mostly all of them offer something more than the “superficial” in my opinion. I’ve learned that is isn’t about how often one posts or how many followers/subscribers one has…it’s about quality not quantity.

    Honestly, when I started blogging, I probably was pretty superficial in my attempts to get people to read about ME ME ME. But as time has passed, I focus on blogging about subjects that I’m interested in – and if people choose to follow and join in the conversation, then that’s just a perk.

    My eyes were opened when I joined Google+ and discovered all of the quality posts being published, from people who want to inspire, collaborate, and share. I think being invite only for so long really helped weed out the superficial and draw in the beneficial content. It made me take a look at what I was blogging about and inspired me to strive for a higher standard…but I don’t ever feel like I need others to recognize that. We write what we want to write and read what we want to read.

  4. October 29, 2011 1:36 pm

    I agree with the others. Sounds very generalized to me. I think that most blogs are a mix of both insights and personal “crap”, but at the end of the day, blogs are generating a ton of content. We all can’t come up with groundbreaking observations every single day. Sometimes it is just about having and outlet and writing from the heart.

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