Bloggers are blustering over a new book, "The Cult
of the Amateur," that says "millions of millions of exuberant monkeys ... are
creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity," says Eric Auchard.
Internet culture, often portrayed as the vanguard of progress, is actually a
jungle peopled by intellectual yahoos and digital thieves, according to a
Silicon Valley entrepreneur-turned-dissenter.
Andrew Keen, a 47-year-old Briton who founded dot-com era music startup
Audiocafe, argues that basic notions of expertise are under assault amid a
cultural shift in favor of the amateurism of blogs, MySpace and other
"Millions and millions of exuberant monkeys ... are creating an endless
digital forest of mediocrity," Keen writes in a book published last Tuesday.
His views have infuriated bloggers and others, especially in Silicon Valley,
who argue he is an elitist intellectual, a conservative pining for a return to
old ways, and a writer who cannot keep his facts straight.
The villains in Keen's narrative are a "pajama army" of mostly anonymous
writers who spread gossip and scandal, "intellectual kleptomaniacs,' who search
Google to copy others' work and the "digital thieves" of media content in the
For a technology industry used to basking in the glow of self-promotion,
Keen's work is shocking for its unforgiving view of Silicon Valley's utopian
The book "is designed as a grenade," Keen, a native of north London who now
lives in California, said at a recent debate with bloggers and journalists in
Berkeley, California. "It is not designed to be particularly fair or balanced."
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