Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Cult of the Whore

Today’s subscription email from BBC’s Newsnight had me almost choking on my coffee…

==========================================
NEWSNIGHT - TALKING POINT ==========================================

------------------------------------------------------------
The Cult of the Amateur

------------------------------------------------------------

"If we are all amateurs, there are no experts."


Andrew Keen's new book, The Cult of the Amateur is the latest addition to the Newsnight book club. In it, the author expresses his concern for the profligacy of online amateurism, spawned by the digital revolution.
This, he feels, has had a destructive impact on our culture, economy and values.

He says, "[They] can use their networked computers to publish everything from uninformed political commentary, to unseemly home videos, to embarrassingly amateurish music, to unreadable poems, reviews, essays, and novels".

He complains that blogs are "collectively corrupting and confusing popular opinion about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture".

He claims that Wikipedia perpetuates a cycle of misinformation and ignorance, and labels YouTube inane and absurd, "showing poor fools dancing, singing, eating, washing, shopping, driving, cleaning, sleeping, or just staring at their computers."

He warns that old media is facing extinction - "say goodbye to experts and cultural gatekeepers - our reporters, news anchors, editors, music companies, and Hollywood movie studios."


What do you think? We've published two extracts from Andrew Keen's book on the Newsnight website. Have a read and share your thoughts - is he being alarmist about the effects of the Web 2.0 revolution, or raising genuine concerns? Are we at the mercy of the amateur? Can kids tell the difference between credible news sources and the amateur's blog? What, in any case, can be done?


Presumably the Newsnight production team are talking about the kind of credible news sources which...
  • Label anyone who doubts proven liars in our government and security forces as being mentally unbalanced
  • When the number of people with doubts gets so large that the insanity claim doesn’t stick they try and sow a little racial division instead


  • Unashamedly try to stoke up enthusiasm for a couple of wars of aggression, even whilst the last couple of wars they helped lie us into are still raging



Yes, I suppose the
Newsnight team must be referring to those kind of credible news sources.

I’m still waiting for Newsnight’s credible take on Andrei Lugovoi's claim last week that MI6 was involved in some way in the Litvinenko poisoning

The press conference was on Thursday morning


per Newsnight’s Thursday email, the stories covered by the program that night were

- TORY U-TURN?
- BUSH AND CLIMATE CHANGE
- AFGHANISTAN
- MADELEINE McCANN

Then on Friday…


- ALAN JOHNSTON
- CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
- BLAIR IN SOUTH AFRICA
- ENGLAND FOOTBALL FRIENDLY

Now you could argue that those other stories were more important than the Lugavoi press conference. I would counter by saying that if Muslims had been involved in smearing radioactive crap all over London,
Newsnight would have run a hour long special on Lugavoi’s claims. Still, I’m sure the Newsnight team will get round to covering the story as soon as Alex Goldfarb faxes them with the details of what to say. That's how they've handled the Litvinenko story so far

What really baffles me is where are all these British based blogs that represent such a dangerously-flawed alternative to the established media?

I’m buggered if I can find them

If you do a Google search on the name ‘Mark Urban’; that purveyor by Royal Appointment of the finest spooky disinformation about the 7/7 bombings, Islamic Terrorism and the Occupation of Iraq, this blog, this poxy personal blog, comes in at number one


If I have achieved nothing else tapping away at this keyboard for last couple of years that achievement alone has made it all worthwhile. However, patting myself on the back aside, the fact is that the number of blogs out there that are really getting stuck into 'professionals' like Mark is tiny. If the Internet really was such a hotbed of media subversion, I shouldn’t come out on top (there’s a cracking piece on Urban Myths here BTW)

Someone recently included a link to this blog in a viral exercise to name and link to five blogs that each person in the chain approved of. My particular branch stopped with me as I couldn’t think of three, let alone five, regularly updated British blogs that I thought were worth reading that were not tainted in some way.

What there is a lot of out there is a mass of really fucked off people who, even though they don’t have the time or inclination to maintain their own platform, do make their feelings clear on other people's sites, including the Internet arms of mainstream news organisations
.

And the reason why those people are annoyed is that they know full well they are being systematically lied to by those mainstream outlets.

This is not some abstract game and people have good cause to feel hatred towards the whores who peddle this muck. Their lies pave the way for exploitation, war and death.

So, my suggested answer to Newsnight's question 'What, in any case, can be done?' is 'At least try telling the fucking truth for a change' and then people might stop switching off

.

23 comments:

paul said...

Fuck me, that was a good one

Anonymous said...

The mainstream media should be regarded as accessories after the fact. Or before it in many cases. They should be treated with the contempt you'd reserve for anyone who aids and abets murderers. Thankfully excellent blogs like this one are increasingly exposing the criminals for what they are. Watching the establishment cheerleaders wither and die will be an immensely enjoyable experience!

paul said...

Is that a telephone number in the corner of the sun page appealing for news stories from amateurs?

Does the guardian not exhort the little people to 'join the fray'?

Do the bbc not plead with the sub experts to send in the txts, emails, funny videos so they don't have to bother looking themselves?

I fear mr keenute is trying to hold back the tide, and fails to see the good stuff washed up in this tsunami of shit

Jon Doy said...

oh come now !

newsnight always tells things like they are, you simply need to have paxo's semaphore eyebrow code book to hand to decode the TRUTH!™

like the time before we invaded Iraq and they did a special on how they feared Iraq might split into three sectarian divided mini states, unfortunately, decoding the dancing eyebrows is but part of the picture, once you have that you need usually to decode the 'fears' etc into intended outcomes...such as how an artificially segregated Iraq would produce smaller more easily bullied thiefdoms

i did like it the other night when Yuri Felshtinsky stated that "unfortunately secret services now control Russia" and paxo said "thank you very much", now, the 5 degree pitch of the left eyebrow in combination with a light blush denotes that Felshtinsky's statement should be understood to refer to all westernised democracies (so it says here in the book)

and by the way, nice one topping the google charts

cap doffed to you

:)

The Antagonist said...

Nice one, Stef.

Just this for now.

Stef said...

@jon - it's all so obvious now, thanks

Is there no limit to the knowledge and insight shown by my fellow Conspiraloons™?

/ counter doffs

Stef said...

...though I think you'll find the correct spelling of yet another of Boris Berezovsky's 'associates' to be given State Broadcasting Company airtime is Felchtinsky

Anonymous said...

Posted this comment on his 'piece', which was ironically enough put on the bbc site in the form of a blog:

Sounds like the death throws of a lumbering, soon to expire dinosaur to me. The mainstream media have lost. They let us all down by allowing themselves to be hijacked by elitist establishment and corporate interests. You've told us lies and deceived us for too long and we've had enough. Thankfully the internet has exposed you for what you are - the mouth piece and cheerleader for the rich and the powerful. We now have the tools to make our own minds up about the issues of the world without needing your version of what to think. Time leave, your time is up.

I suggest we all tell this tit what we think of him

Apprentice said...

Keen's right in respect of photos though. The vast majority of them are absolute sh*te. If I hear one more triumphalist "we are all photographers now" paeon, I'll spit.

There must be some reason why photography is treated differently. It's free content in exactly the same way as poetry, music or video, but amateur snapshotting's been embraced by the meeja.

I was idly watching a sh*te slideshow of mostly boring holiday snaps of cathedrals and such, when I realise it was that beeb thing flickr have been involved in. There were about 2 decent-ish photos in the whole dismal slew, but hey they were free because after all, "we are all photographers now."

* spits *

Anonymous said...

update to an earlier post about the UK's, US's and Spain's debt. The link gives an explanation for Spain's debt (incompatibility with the Euro) - so what's the UK and US's excuse?

Anonymous said...

"If we are all amateurs, there are no experts."

Two latent points in that sentence suggest ignorance on his part: (i) does paying an amateur make him an expert?; and, (ii) why is he assuming that money is the only means of payment: investing time and giving kudos can be payment.

Stef said...

@anon - thanks for the debt link - of course Gordon Brnwo already reduced the UK's gold reserves ages ago

@anon2 - does paying an amateur make him an expert?

well quite - and Newsnight did a pretty good job of demonstrating that there's plenty of old tosh being produced outside of the Internet by plugging Keen's book.

What Keen has to say isn't very interesting. What is interesting is that Newsnight's pushing Keen is part of a broader campaign to demonize and belittle the web. The discomfort being shown by establishment cheerleaders is enjoyable to watch. Maybe they'll realise that the solution is to clean their act up rather than whining about what is happening but I'm not sure they are capable of doing that

Bridget Dunne said...

Keen on Newsnight did the old 'two types of people - us - and the masses'. It's the masses they fear losing control over - good point made by the other guy (didn't catch his name) who said the same arguments were made over public libraries - 'they' feared the masses would get educated and they wouldn't want that now, would they.

Stef said...

The other bloke was Charles (formerly Charlie) Leadbeater...

Charles Leadbeater is a British author and former advisor to Tony Blair.

He first came to widespread notice in the 1980s as a regular contributor to the magazine Marxism Today. Later he was Industrial Editor and Tokyo Bureau Chief at the Financial Times. While working at The Independent in the 1990s, he devised Bridget Jones's Diary (originally a column) with Helen Fielding. He worked on social entrepreneurship, publishing The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur in 1997. He advised the British government on matters of the Internet and the knowledge-driven economy. His upcoming book We-think explores the new phenomenon of mass creativity exemplified by web sites such as YouTube, Wikipedia and MySpace. The book, which in a preliminary version is open to public criticism and revision, argues that participation, rather than consumption or production, will be the key organizing idea of future society.


He's a DEMOS boy...

http://tinyurl.com/2cb64f

and if he's a friend of the masses, whatever first name he uses, I'm a porch monkey's uncle

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Keen makes of BabyBarista?

And what he makes of the Times incorporating it into their bloggosphere?

So, much for Newsnight ... are they as bereft of logic as Keen?

Anyway, Stef; why do you bother with them? To assume that all Newsnight's viewers watch for motives such as being educated is to assume that the millions of people who visit the monkeys at Chester zoo do so in order to discuss one of the proofs of Pythagoras' theorem.

The Antagonist said...

and if he's a friend of the masses, whatever first name he uses, I'm a porch monkey's uncle

Still, at least Leadbeater was a rational counter to Keen's paranoic hysterics about how the ground that disappeared a long time ago might be ripped from under his feet.

Anyone interested can download a draft of Leadbeater's book here.

Stef said...

@ant

Yes, he was rational. His opening put down that the editing and fact checking process at Wikipedia is a damn sight more transparent than the BBC ever has been ripped the guts out of Keen's/ Newsnight's case straight away.

However

Even I were to put aside the company matey keeps there were a couple things about that discussion that are worth bearing in mind

First off, Leadbeater had been briefed in advance of the content of Newsnight's film on the weaknesses of the Internet. He was able to research and prepare a response to the specific examples used in the piece. How common do you think that is?

Secondly, in practice, Wikipedia is potentially subject to even more control than an organisation like the BBC. Wikipedia is the brainchild of a bunch sleazy porn jockeys based in Florida

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bomis

and whilst I have no reason to favour the British Establishment over sleazy porn jockeys there's no way to be 100% sure that someone else isn't pulling their strings - and some grounds to suspect that there is.

The result of last night's piece was to enhance the reputation of both Leadbeater and Wikipedia. Remember, a TV studio is the nearest thing to a perfectly controlled environment. There are occasional uncontroved on-screen surprises (all too few since the passing away of late, great Oliver Reed) but last night's wasn't one of them

The Antagonist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Antagonist said...

Fuck me! I'm sure I've read this somewhere before....

The Cult of the Amateur strikes again as Idiot Bunglawala, regurgitates some stuff he read on the Internet and puts it out as the opinion of an 'expert' two weeks after the fact - a form of professional journalism better known as plagiarism.

Nor is he the first writer to do so. What a truly septic isle on which we live.

The Antagonist said...

Sorry, my previous comment referred to, "Idiot Bunglawala" when, in fact, it should have said, "Idiot Bunglingwanka".

Stef said...

noted...

http://tinyurl.com/3d2s4x

Anonymous said...

Here's another underminer:

http://martinkelly.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-boris-berezovsky-stole-aeroflot.html

Stef said...

Good link through to Sean's Russia blog - thanks