The Cult of the Amateur

  • by Andrew Keen
  • Narrated by Andrew Keen
  • 6 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In a hard-hitting and provocative polemic, Silicon Valley insider and pundit Andrew Keen exposes the grave consequences of today's new participatory Web 2.0 and reveals how it threatens our values, economy, and ultimately the very innovation and creativity that forms the fabric of American achievement. Our most valued cultural institutions, Keen warns, our professional newspapers, magazines, music, and movies, are being overtaken by an avalanche of amateur, user-generated free content. Advertising revenue is being siphoned off by free classified ads on sites like Craigslist; television networks are under attack from free user-generated programming on YouTube and the like; file-sharing and digital piracy have devastated the multibillion-dollar music business and threaten to undermine our movie industry. Worse, Keen claims, our "cut-and-paste" online culture, in which intellectual property is freely swapped, downloaded, remashed, and aggregated, threatens over 200 years of copyright protection and intellectual property rights, robbing artists, authors, journalists, musicians, editors, and producers of the fruits of their creative labors. The very anonymity that the Web 2.0 offers calls into question the reliability of the information we receive and creates an environment in which sexual predators and identity thieves can roam free. While no Luddite - Keen pioneered several Internet startups himself - he urges us to consider the consequences of blindly supporting a culture that endorses plagiarism and piracy and that fundamentally weakens traditional media and creative institutions.

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What the Critics Say

"Andrew Keen is a brilliant, witty, classically-educated technoscold, and thank goodness. The world needs an intellectual Goliath to slay Web 2.0's army of Davids." (The Weekly Standard)
"Mr. Keen...writes with acuity and passion about the consequences of a world in which the lines between fact and opinion, informed expertise and amateurish speculation are willfully blurred." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A painful voyage from a single perspective

I struggled through "The Cult of the Amateur" for a variety of different reasons, but what sticks with me most vividly is the overwhelming feeling that the author had an alternate agenda - as if at some point I would become a part of a sophisticated infomercial for some far away product. Fortunately, that was not the case, but the struggle to get through it was no less painful.

At the end of the whole thing I found myself wondering what the point was - knowing because it had been pounded into me throughout the story - and not believing that there's anything wrong with the "amateur" challenging the common professional or even the "expert" that might know what he's read or learned in years of experience. I believe, as most Internet people probably do, that sometimes the expert doesn't know what's best and the "amateur" will come up with the next best thing and/or the right idea. The author's hypothesis was quite a bit different, suggesting that the amateur is taking over and that the power is nearly destroying what we know as expert opinion and knowledge. Quite different from how I and most of my peers view things.

Hope that helps for those of you considering this book - perhaps enough to save your credits and wait for it to hit the sale rack.

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- Michael Fielden

Save your money....

The author's core hypothesis is basically something along the lines of "work of professionals is increasingly not valued, so they're not making money like they used to", and he attributes this to "amateurs".

There are a few nuggets of good information in this book, but they're few and far between. I think the author could come up with a five-page theme paper that would cover all of his points - the rest is redundant (and sometimes irrelevant) examples.

He gives an example of a company having a "design our next ad" contest, where the winner got paid some amount (I believe it was $10,000) for the ad. He then said that a "professional" would have charged, on average, over $300,000 to do the same ad. He then states that this was a bad thing, presumably because a "professional" lost out on work.

This neglects to mention that if the "amateur" doesn't do as good of a job as the "professional", the company won't hire the amateur next time. They'll hire the professional, and value his services even more. If the ad is the best ad they've ever run though, who's to say that the company did the wrong thing by shopping around? It's really pretty simple.

By the way....my very act of posting a review of his work, since I'm not a "professional" reviewer of audiobooks, makes me (in his eyes) unqualified to render any valid opinion about his work. Very convenient, that.

If you're willing to take my "amateur" advice, save your credits and your money.
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- Robert

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-05-2007
  • Publisher: Audible Studios