Two books, two views - no agreement, but certainly a lot of sparks. Is the Internet full of junk and by killing off the conventional media we are loosing all our good information sources? That is a point of view of Andrew Keen, author of the book Cult of the Amateur. On the other hand Weinberger, with his own book Everything is Miscellaneous, agrees that there is a lot of bad stuff on the Internet, but argues that there is a lot of good stuff too. More importantly, new mechanisms are being developed that would allow us to find good stuff faster and ignore bad stuff easier. In fact the Internet may make good stuff easier to find than currently possible outside of the internet.
Both authors have argued their points separately and against other people. But now they have squared-off against each other and the sparks are flying. The full text of one of such debates has been published by the Wall Street Journal. Earlier, they also argued at the Supernova conference and the video recording of that debate has been published.
For myself, Weinberger’s argument makes much more sense. I don’t really care about sports, popular music or so called ‘Entertainment’ industry, so most of the content produced by the off-Internet media is of no value to me and often is actually annoying. On the other hand, Internet allows me to track and participate more fully in topics that are actually of interest to me, my work and my research.
Still, even with my alliances so clear, it was fascinating and educational to read and watch both debates. They certainly make you think.
(Update: August 17)
David Weinberger has written a great and very well thought out follow-up article on the issue. I agree with it completely and just wish I could argue the topics as well as he does.