Nice of the Online Educa organisers to give LINE Communications, a commercial organisation, a keynote. After watching Andrew Keen (The Cult of the Amateur) give his rant against wikipedia, wikis and web 2.0 on the opening session of Day 1, I had the advantage of responding on the opening session of Day 2.
‘Monkeys, idiots and the inane’
Keen claimed that the web has been taken over by 14 year olds and amateurs, or in his own words “monkeys, idiots and the inane”. Hold on Andrew, this sounds dangerously fascistic, bad news in a Berlin conference. I hadn’t planned to attack him but it sort of came to me when I was talking about Google. Anyone who sees Google, Wikipedia and blogging as three great evils, is chasing the wrong devils. There’s a debate here but there are other better thinkers than Keen in this area. Lanier’s Digital Maoism ideas are far more interesting and the detailed debate on blogs around quality content, spawned by the success of Wikipedia, is far more sophisticated.
Search and research
Unfortunately, Keen is not the debating sort. In my view there’s a great awareness among web users of the difference between ‘search’ and ‘research’. This is well covered in the education system and young people quickly learn to spot the difference. However, Keen served his purpose – he made everyone think a little.