Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reading Web pessimists

Again and again — this can be only a short note. I hope the review(s) will come soon.
Anyway, seems to me it's worth to tell you that, for some (perverse?) reason, I, incorrigible Web optimist, started to read Web big pessimists. I started some time ago with Nicholas Carr and his „Shallows”. And a week ago I finished Andrew Keen's „The Cult of the Amateur”, now I'm in Jaron Lanier's „You Are Not a Gadget”.

Here are my initial thoughts: There is a lot of profound concern in Carr's „Shallows”. No one, can really ignore his book. I devoted a considerable time to write about it. His arguments matter, even if one does not agree with all of them. Similarly, Jaron's Lanier warnings (mostly against Web 2.0) are deep and profound. Maybe a bit less than Carr's; maybe some of his proposals (take Songle) are naive, maybe his „Digital Maoism” term is a pure exaggeration — yet there is a profound concern behind and quite deep understanding of true dangers.

Contrary, I almost could not find too many merits in Keen's „The Cult of the Amateur”. His arguments are like a living image of XIX arguments against steam machines, medieval arguments against printing press, XX century arguments against mass press, TV etc. There was literally no substance in his debunking of apparent Web 2.0 sins. His argument against Wikipedia is just a pure elitism of worst kind. His account on the revolution of music distribution is simply blind.

What is more, he takes the real dark side of Web (which, of course, exists — and is indeed bad) as the argument against the freedom on Web at large! That's really ridiculous view, forgetting how much dirt we do have in the real world, and somehow we learnt how to handle it...

It's good to read opponents of your thoughts; no-one could live only in its echo chambers — so I feel Jaron's arguments will resonate in me, will make my optimised rethinked. It is sad that I can not say so about some opponents' books, like „The Cult of Amateur” ....

Anyway — the full reviews will come...

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