web 2.0 o Jaron Lanier o Andrew Keen to review Andrew Keen's views, watch video read transcript interview Andrew Keen: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec07/internet_09-17.html to review Jaron Lanier's views, essay, "Beware Online Collective" URL: http://www.
Andrew Keen vs. Jaron Lanier's views on Web 2.0
The Internet has transformed the way we communicate and interact. However, whether it has been an influence for good or for ill remains a hotly-debated question. According to media critic Andrew Keen, rather than improve the quality of information that can be accessed, the democratization of the Internet "is actually undermining reliable information and high-quality entertainment. By replacing mainstream media content, high-quality radio, television, newspapers, publishing, music...we're...replacing it with user-generated content, which is unreliable, inane, and often rather corrupt" (Brown 2007). How can a poorly-researched blog entry be a substitute for an article in The New York Times or even a well-written article in a local newspaper, asks Keen? In contrast to Keen's almost entirely negative view of the Internet as detrimental to democracy, critic Jaron Lanier praises the Internet's potential to facilitate creativity, although Lanier is dismayed by the way that corporate advertising interests have channeled and in his view hampered the potential of the Internet to promote idiosyncratic views of the world.
In defiance of conventional wisdom, Andrew Keen dismisses the participation facilitated online by the presence of social media such as Twitter, Facebook or the ability to leave comments on message boards. "I don't think that participation has been something that's been missing from American politics or culture" (Brown 2007). This seems to ignore the abysmal voting rates in America, and while hardly as substantive in number as they should be, there can be little doubt that the online fundraising and media campaign of Barak Obama played a significant role in generating interest in his race for the presidency in 2008, even when he was a relatively little-known candidate. Keen would contend, however, that the Internet lends itself to Balkanization of ideological communities online, whereby individuals can choose to interact solely with members of their own ideological tribes. This creates political polarization, which has also increased with the rise of the Internet. The Internet has thus provoked less communication (one of the most important elements of a modern democracy) rather than facilitated it, despite the ease of sending a message with a push of a button.
But the Internet's polymorphous and amorphous nature initially prompted Jesse Lanier to take a very different view. "One of the most wonderful things about the rise of the Web and other Internet-based communication schemes is how anti-mob they have been. I was in heaven 10 years ago watching millions of people build web sites for the first time as a form of expression" (Lanier 2006). Lanier sees the individualism facilitated by the Internet as healthy, not dangerous and the development of small communities as a positive cultural moment.
Lanier's view is not entirely rosy, however. Like Keen, he also cites the anonymous nature, anger, and meanness that can be generated when people can express their views consequence-free, without leaving any trace of their identity when they make a comment. He also dislikes automatic mass content sites like DIGG and REDDIT. Although Lanier only mentions a few examples, there are many online, which simply regurgitate the same material in different forms, leading to more mass homogenization rather than democratization, dialogue, and debate. The business model of Web 2.0 of trying to concentrate viewership around content sites like YouTube so they see ads, Lanier feels will dilute the positive potential of the Internet.
Overall, Lanier's view of the potential of the Internet is far sunnier than Keen's. Lanier is more distrustful of large corporations and large content sites homogenizing the medium than individual users becoming egocentric. Keen states that the Internet encourages solipsism. It reinforces the worst, navel-gazing values inherent in modern civilization. "We also see, I think, many of the worst developments in modern cultural life, and, in particular, I think we see what I call digital narcissism, this embrace of the self... I don't believe that the key to citizenship means self-expression. I think the key to citizenship means listening, and…