Andrew Keen, bestselling author of 'How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture' speaks at EIF event

02 December 2009 Author: EIFonline

Andrew Keen, Internet entrepreneur and bestselling author of 'Cult of the Amateur, how Today's Internet is Killing our Culture', gave an intriguing speech at the EIF breakfast debate on 2 December 2009.

Like in his book, Andrew does not hide that he is a web 2.0 skeptic. He explains that in the 1990s, web 1.0 was all about using a new technology to maintain traditional business models, music being the best example.  Music was sold in the traditional way on a new medium, but there was nothing really innovative about the business model.

However, web 2.0 is about much more than just using a new technology: it is the first real manifestation of the digital revolution and Andrew believes that Google is the first real web 2.0 company. Why? Because Google has a completely different business model that is truly revolutionary (unlike the music business in the 1990s).  Every time we use the Google search engine it becomes more intelligent. Like Wikipedia, there are no editors, there is no hierarchy, we create web 2.0 collectively.

In a similar way, Andrew foresees social media becoming competition to traditional political networks and eventually becoming a new way of doing politics. The nature of the entire web 2.0 culture is that it flattens the hierarchy: a blogger has the same access to publishing as the editor of the Financial Times for example.

This is where Andrew's skepticism kicks in, because with everybody being so-called equal, we also start believing that everybody can make films or newspapers, but the truth is that professional filmmakers and professional newspaper editors know how to add value to their products, to a much larger extent than a 15 year old kid will ever do.

Andrew strongly believes that the values we have in the real world should be applied in the virtual world. The Internet is just another form of society. There can be no room for anonymity if we want the Internet to prosper; people should reveal who they are, and similar to the real world people should not only be coming to the web to take what they want, but also to think about what they can bring to it.

Andrew's next book is a political and cultural critique of digital society and will be called 'Digital Vertigo, the Inequality, Loneliness and Anxiety in the Social Media Age'.


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