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Week 4: Amateur Hour Continues

Our class discussion yesterday convinced me that we haven’t heard enough from the naysayers of technology, the prophets of doom who see the rise of amateur production online as a harbinger of societal collapse. So, in the interest of equal time (well, not quite equal), we’ll add Andrew Keen‘s views into the mix next week. Keen published a provocative article in The Weekly Standard two years ago, then expanded the article into a book, The Cult of the Amateur. After the book came out, Keen engaged in several public debates (some in person and some in print) with David Weinberger (we will read an excerpt of his book, Everything is Miscellaneous, later this semester), Kevin Kelly (the founder of Wired magazine), Emily Bell (director of digital content for the Guardian newspaper), and others. In class on Thursday, I made the mistake of wearing my opinion of Keen’s book on my shirtsleeve, but I hope you’ll approach these sources with an open mind.

On Tuesday, Samantha will lead our discussion of Here Comes Everybody, pages 143–232. In addition, please print and read Keen’s original Weekly Standard article on “Web 2.0″ and Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times review of The Cult of the Amateur. You may want to read the sample chapter of Keen’s book (linked above), but it isn’t required.

On Thursday, Devin will lead our last discussion of Here Comes Everybody, pages 233–304. In addition, please read one of the debates between Keen and Weinberger, published in The Wall Street Journal. We will dive into this debate in class, so be sure to print it out and bring it with you. Again, you may want to read or watch some of the other debates (linked above) for background information, but in class we will focus on the Keen vs. Weinberger debate in the WSJ.

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