April 8, 2008

It is what it is….get over it

That’s how Andrew Keen sees the culture of the web and new media. I have not read his book but have watched several interviews and lectures. The Truth According to Wikipedia is a great video that debates the merits of wikipedia with Keen and Jimmy Wales key players.

Without rehashing previous arguments, two main ideas override the specifics of the debate for me:

  1. Truth has always be personalized. As much as Keen argues how this will have adverse effects on society, it really is simply the amplification of what has always been. Individuals have always determined this. Yes, in the past gatekeepers have been our filters and we’ve trusted them for the most part but there were always gaps that were revealed, sometimes years or centuries later but truth in many cases emerged. The process is simply more transparent now. The Cult of the Amateur does have merits. The idea that being able to publish somehow makes you important or have something people need to hear is a dangerous concept that we are going to continue to deal with. I have a bit of difficult time understanding his arguments that this is somehow less democratic. We still need gatekeepers but now we have more say in who those gatekeepers are.
  2. It is what it is. If Keen’s argument is to make people aware of these trends, fine. But the lament of he and others to the “good old days” (whenever that was) is a moot point. We’ve always had to make decisions around trust and experts. Good teachers have been helping students critical navigate their world for years. It’s just that now it’s more important.

It’s never been a matter of good or bad for me. This is our world and why not embrace what is good, leverage it, pay attention to what is bad, and discourage it.