May 3, 2010 Comments Off
I think Andrew Keen’s writing is one sided and does not include sufficient evidence to support his extreme thesis. He writes by picking out evidence after coming up with his thesis, instead of looking at evidence as a whole and then coming up with a conclusion.
For one, it is not the introduction of blogs, YouTube type sites, SNSs and the likes that have caused the newspapers to loose great amounts of money. Sure, this is a part of the reason, but the loss in revenue really comes from the introduction of the Internet and the fact that people just want to get their news online using the same online paper companies instead of paying for a paper. These news companies who distribute (or once did before loosing lots of money) papers also have websites that are free for people to access. Thus, even with advertising on their pages, they do not make as much money anymore because people are just using computers to go onto the websites of the paper companies to gather information. Not to mention this information comes up in real time on the sites, which makes it even more attractive than buying a plain newspaper that only comes once a day (I have updates even sent from the New York Times to my phone for free). The recent downward decline in revenue is not because of the great masses of blogs, etc. but because people suddenly switched to using computers to go to the newspaper sites and view articles. This is why newspapers like the New York Times are now going to be charging for access on their website in the coming year. Keen writes of a morbid state in the future based off of a decline that has recently been shown, but really this will level off.
Sure, more people are running the show. But to say that people are now turning to blog sites and Wikipedia for cited resources is an exaggeration. Sure, there is a trend of people posting and creating new blogs and putting their opinions out there. But academia is not changing. Any academic knows that something posted on a blog or Wikipedia is not necessarily true. Maybe a middle schooler is accidentally citing personal blogs as sources for a project, but there is an understanding among those more experienced and knowledgeable that not all sources online are reputable. And, on another note, Wikipedia does have restrictions that help make sure information that isn’t correct doesn’t get posted (the main authors of the page can edit posts, people can report/change inaccuracies, and many pages are becoming full of citations). Furthermore, the success of Wikipedia exemplifies the fact that peer review on the site allows for correct information. Wikipedia can in fact work as a site to gather basic information on a topic before going into more depth. You go on the site with an understanding that not everything is necessarily true, and the sources sited on the page often lead you to information and sources that are more reliable.
Keen writes about pedophiles like they are rampant online. This is an excessive exaggeration. Pedophiles are just as abundant online as in the physical world. And just like the physical world, you just must know methods to stay away from such pedophiles. Even with the amount of openness on the web, their only rare cases of pedophile interaction (in context of the entire Internet world), or at least pedophile interaction going bad (which is the same as the physical world; I’m sure many of us have talked to a pedophile and not realized it. My elementary school soccer coach of three years was revealed when I was in high school to be a major pedophile on Fox news!) .
Keen also says that popular peer sites only cover stories that are unimportant and skip over important news like current conflicts in the world, etc. But, this is evident in news companies as well. News TV shows, CNN, NBC, and the likes are just the same as shows like Access Hollywood or Entertainment tonight. They’re trying to make money. Popular news media filters out information and only puts up what they think will be attractive to viewers or readers. Not all of the important problems and news of the world are appearing on news shows or in the paper. There is not enough time or room (on the pages) to show it. Thus, news companies sift through information and only show what they think is relevant or will be popular. In this way are they also leaving out important aspects of world news in their reporting.
Burgess and Green demonstrate how new sites like Youtube and blogs actually have positive qualities. They state that such sites online create a “participatory culture.” Instead of the top down culture of media picking information and then distributing it to the public, the public now has a say in what is being published to the world. People are allowed to put out many opinions and make a more democratic approach to information production and publication. The authors state on page 13 that the media is now even using sites and videos produced by individuals in their reporting. This shows that the media obviously finds value in information produced by individuals. For example, a lot of videos of the recent election crisis in Iran used by mass media came from individual postings on YouTube.
Overall, I think Keen should be less harsh on new blog sites and posting sites, as they do positively contribute in ways to society. They democratize media (as Burgess and Green point out) by creating more options for information and news. There are now more news outlets than just the mainstream corporations that have previously monopolized news production. Even though some sites contain information that is misleading or untrue, there are many that do aid in research and general information. Furthermore, academia still values academic research and news reporting as correct information over information posted by amateurs… so there is really no reason to worry.