Keen Who Is Not So Keen

by Kiko Matsing

CNN Host Calls for Crackdown on ‘Bloggers’ in Wake of Sherrod Incident: ‘Something’s Going to Have to be Done Legally’ (News Busters)

Phillips demanded to know what Andrew Keen thought needed to be done. Keen, author of “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture,” who suggested that there needs to be an internet “gatekeeper,” had been interviewed by Roberts and quoted in the segment.

“Well what Andrew talked about with me was this idea of a gatekeeper but there are huge first amendment rights that come into play here – freedom of speech and all that. And he said the people who need to be the gatekeepers are the media to check into these stories,” said Roberts.

“Gatekeeper” of the Internet? Who the hell is this Andrew Keen, and what does he mean by “gatekeeping”? Turns out this humorless goofus explained this to Stephen Colbert:

Andrew Keen on Colbert

Colbert: You’re just an elitist sir! You believe there’s an elite up here who reads books and knows things, and everybody else is just pig farmers.

Keen: What’s wrong with that?

(time stamp 1:25)

What an ass! (See Colbert trying to hide is disbelief, as the audience booed, and brilliantly turned the awkward moment to a joke about Internet porn. But this guy was too slow to get it.) People who think like Keen (e.g., Steve Jobs, RealClimate) think they should be the clearinghouse of knowledge for the stupid masses. At least Jobs and RealClimate have something to show for, i.e., the iPhone and peer reviewed publications, respectively. This bloke just spouts claptrap to pimp out his pedestrian wares, proffering himself as an “expert” (of what? the Internet? I submit that Justin Bieber is a more reliable expert!) to sell his book or get speaking engagements.

I love the information noise on the Internet. It trains the surfer to have a keen sense of what is real and fake. Our defense mechanism for sniffing out crap is always turned on because we know that the veracity of the content we consume is always in doubt. We do not relinquish this capacity to the experts. Errors proliferate, yes, but there are also more democratic ways of correcting/adjusting them (like amateurs head butting with experts in some sort of mud wrestling).

Who are afraid of Wikipedia (see video below)? “Experts” like Andrew Keen and the editor of Encyclopedia Britannica who are threatened with their irrelevance. (If they are really concerned with gatekeeping the truth, they can head butt with the amateurs like everyone else, in a pit of mud preferably, using their rolled up PhD diplomas as deadly weapons.)

The one refreshing, reasonable voice in the video is blogger Ndesanjo Macha (at 8:15), who has a forward-looking vision of the Internet. Growing up with “old books” in Tanzania (newer editions no doubt withheld by Keen’s mean gatekeepers), he welcomes the immediacy of information available on the Internet. He also writes in Swahili to “decolonize” cyberspace. I love it when the guy with the dreadlocks who looks like Bob Marley speaks more sense than the crusty “legit” “expert” with a stick up his ass. Now that is “speaking truth to power”!