In Digital Vertigo, Andrew Keen presents today's social media revolution as the most wrenching cultural transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Fusing a fast-paced historical narrative with front-line stories from today's online networking revolution and critiques of "social" companies like Groupon, Zynga and LinkedIn, Keen argues that the social media transformation is weakening, disorienting and dividing us rather than establishing the dawn of a new egalitarian and communal age.
The tragic paradox of life in the social media age, Keen says, is the incompatibility between our internet longings for community and friendship and our equally powerful desire for online individual freedom. By exposing the shallow core of social networks, Andrew Keen shows us that the more electronically connected we become, the lonelier and less powerful we seem to be.
Praise forThe Cult of the Amateur:
'A shrewdly argued jeremiad against the digerati effort to dethrone cultural and political gatekeepers and replace experts with 'the wisdom of the crowd'. Keen writes with acuity and passion'. New York Times
'A staggering new book by Andrew Keen. He is an English-born digital media entrepreneur and Silicon Valley insider who really knows his stuff and he writes with the passion of a man who can at last see the dangers he has helped unleash. His book will come as a real shock to many. It certainly did to me'. A N Wilson, The Daily Mail
With Jeremy Bentham's "Panopticon" in mind, self-appointed "tech Anti-Christ" Keen (The Cult of the Amateur) presents his deepest Orwellian pessimism of a socially-mediated future and laments an increasing lack of privacy as Facebook, Twitter, and a dizzying array of wannabes come to dominate our interconnected world. Unfortunately, his obsession with privacy and authority blinds him to real problems of media illiteracy or a dearth of truly public space. A public figure with more than 11,000 Twitter followers, Keen also seems to miss the point that one can opt out of social media entirely, while his alarmist stance willfully ignores their potential benefits. His inherently conservative, fearful position is constructed upon a foundation of fallacies, strawman arguments, and a woefully inadequate understanding of basic sociology. He also tends to pass off assumptions as fact and make claims to universality that are questionable at best. Even Keen's appeals to some static ideal of "personhood" and "human-ness" that is being erased betray an ignorance of modern psychology or neuroscience. This is not to say that social media is without problems or above criticism, but those leveled here make it difficult to see the book as more than paranoid technophobia.