Friday, August 24, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur 

Did anyone see Andrew Keen appear on the Colbert Report? I think he was trying to promote his book, The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture, but he really came off as an asshole. He claimed, among other things, that artists were people who were paid to produce their art, but amateurs were fouling things up for real artists by offering things for free and by stealing from artists. He claimed to know more about the Internet than Stephen Colbert, said he (Keen) was an elitist and proud of it, and praised Colbert for creating art on his show. I got the impression that art is simply stuff that people value enough to pay for. Or stuff that is paid for. So Danielle Steel is an artist and Emily Dickenson is not.

I'm not being fair, and I promise I will read his book. I'm sure he didn't come off the way he wanted to during Colbert's difficult interview (Colbert's a comedian, not a reporter, so his interviews are...hard on the interviewee).

I had already bought and planned to read his book. I'm a little soured to him, but I'm telling myself not to let a 3-minute TV appearance keep me from reading and trying to understand his arguments. The book is close to the top of my reading pile, so get ready - I'll talk about it again when I finish.

The new media (the blogosphere, etc.) has eliminated the need for a filter, and that's both good and bad. It's good because people are free to create and distribute whatever they feel like and it's good because it means people aren't necessarily creating stuff to get rich. On the other hand, it's bad because there's no distinction between worthwhile content and crap, and no one's getting rich.

Although, as a musician... while nowadays it's nigh impossible to sell a million records, it's now a lot easier to sell 50,000 records. If that makes any sense. In other words, the age of the rock star may soon be over, but the age of "starting a band and playing out and being able to support yourself comfortably" may be soon upon us.
That makes sense. (Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, might say it's evidence of his thesis).

I wonder if this is an age that "may soon be upon us" or "may soon be upon us again."

Is this the demise of the superstar, and the rise of a lot of little stars, who have followers who love them? As opposed to the superstars who had more followers who merely liked them?

Could be. The fact that this coincides with the "downfall of Britney Spears" can't be too much of a coincidence.
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