Is the internet killing our culture?

Another book on the block that is vehemently complaining about internet and its ill effects on Culture.


The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture  

I remember an earlier discussion about Wikipedia, complaining about its amateurish mob made content compared to so called validated and trusted expert content from famous encyclopedias. Whether there is any truth in that matter or not, first website I and most of my friends and collegues refer to when in doubt is undoubtedly wikipedia. On subjects we knew in depth, we compared the quality of content and found no truth in those allegations.   

Coming to key arguments made in this book, here are few exceprts (taken from 37Signals post, linked at the bottom of the page, highlights by me)

Mr. Keen argues that “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.” 

Another word for narcissism is “personalization.” Web 2.0 technology personalizes culture so that it reflects ourselves rather than the world around us. Blogs personalize media content so that all we read are our own thoughts. Online stores personalize our preferences, thus feeding back to us our own taste. Google personalizes searches so that all we see are advertisements for products and services we already use.

In the Web 2.0 world, however, the nightmare is not the scarcity, but the over-abundance of authors. Since everyone will use digital media to express themselves, the only decisive act will be to not mark the paper. Not writing as rebellion sounds bizarre—like a piece of fiction authored by Franz Kafka. But one of the unintended consequences of the Web 2.0 future may well be that everyone is an author, while there is no longer any audience.

The content on youtube and flickr may be naive and amateurish. But it is original, fresh and so refreshing. They are  lot better than boring and stereotyped TV shows and reality crap.

I agree that the more we personalize and customize we read only what we like and might miss a different perspective. But we do this kind of personalization all the time, even without web2.0. Not everybody read every page in a news paper, every page of a magazine or every program aired on 100s of channels. We choose  a certain channel, certain program or a certain series. Do you watch every basket ball game that is ever played? You choose your team. You choose your game. Do you listen every music CD that is ever released? Have you ever been to every restaurent that is open in the world? You pick one you like.

So personalization is nothing new and internet can not be blamed for that.

Everybody is an author.

Regarding everybody becoming an author, in a democractic world every citizen has equal opportunity to become the leader of Nation. Does that mean there will be no leaders and no followers?  In most parts of the world, everybody has an equal opportunity to own a business and produce a valuable product or service. Does that mean, there is no consumer and there is no meaning of business? 

Is it chaging/killing our culture?

Yes it is. For sure. But that is the essence of culture. Culture is an evolution of how we live. Not a static representation of a life style. Our culture is how we live, then culture is a post-martem representation of a lifestyle. Not the other way. Internet is changing the way we live, communicate and collaborate. Its a new culture. But an empowering culture.

Internet is providing an equal opportunity to everybody to become what they want. And in that aspect, internet is the best thing that has ever happened to the civilization. One that treats everyone equal and provides an equal opportunity.

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