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Web 2.0 Backlash

I haven’t read Andrew Keen’s new book – The Cult of the Amateur. But I will. I’ve been following his blog for about a month – not because I agree with what he’s saying, but because I believe we need to be intentionally diverse in our information habits. We have an unprecedented ability to filter ideas…the diverse perspectives of a newspaper can now be recreated in mono-voice blog reading habits. We can comfortably surround ourselves with ideas we already agree with.
Britannica Blog is critically exploring the challenge of web 2.0, collectivism, “flight from expertise”, and fading of intellectual rigor. Nicholas Carr states we are changing: “Contemplative Man, the fellow who came to understand the world sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, is a goner. He’s being succeeded by Flickering Man, the fellow who darts from link to link, conjuring the world out of continually refreshed arrays of isolate pixels, shadows of shadows.” I fully agree, we are changing how we relate to others and how we relate to information. Geetha Narayaran offers a vision of slow and wholeness in learning – an important concept, but one that increasingly is trampled under our feet in our mad rush to stay current and cope with information. While Keen and others may be intentionally provocative in order to sell books and attract publicity, their voices are nodes in a diverse network of understanding. We do need to think about how read/write tools are changing society. How the collective activity of many (Wikipedia) relate to Britannica. I personally don’t see them in conflict – when researching, I rely increasingly on journals…when I want information on Zeno’s paradoxes (came up in a recent listserv discussion), I go to wikipedia. Different information needs, different approaches. Both camps in this discussion would benefit from a bit of color in existing mono-chromatic views.


  1. M-H wrote:

    Completely agree. Veyr interesting discussion. I heard something related to this in a current affairs chat on the radio recently: essentially, if you want to find out the information what happened in Baghdad today you can go to a trusted news source. But if you want to find out how people in Baghdad are faring/feeling you go to the bloggers.

    Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 8:32 pm | Permalink
  2. I admit to being torn. Thoughtful responses like yours make me want to spend time with the source. Yet Keen, and Gorman, feel like trolls or energy creatures. Is it worth the risk of feeding them?

    Monday, June 18, 2007 at 9:05 pm | Permalink