(Hat tip to Brian for the image – I just had to come back and add it!)
Kelley Christopherson has a great post this morning, entitled Monkeys Unite. At first I bristled because this was the quote I saw through Technorati:
“Now, I may be a monkey but I surely don’t consider the likes of Stephen Downes, Chris Long, Christopher Sessums, Vicki Davis or Scott McLeod to be monkeys. They are very educated and knowledgeable people whose ideas and thoughts are not just bangings on a keyboard.”
“Today’s technology hooks all those monkeys up with all those typewriters,” argues Andrew Keen, who believes that “web 2.0” is killing our culture, assaulting our economy and destroying time-honoured codes of conduct.
The article goes on to say:
At a working breakfast in 2004 Keen was alarmed to be told the new democratic internet would overthrow the “dictatorship of expertise”. And that’s happening already. Wikipedia, with its millions of amateur editors and unreliable content, is the 17th most trafficked site on the net. Britannica.com, a subscription-based service with 100 Nobel prize-winning contributors and more than 4,000 other experts is ranked 5,128. As a result, Britannica has had to make painful cuts in staffing and editorial.
However, before you sharpen you keyboards, he does go on to say:
He is not against technology: he just wants to see a bit more control. We must choose between sites such as Wikipedia, where the cult of the anonymous amateur prevails, and the newer alternative Citizendium, which aims to improve on Wikipedia’s model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names.
As many of us educators advocate, we want a place where people behave with ethics and have standards of behavior. Many of us do use our real names (except where forced by administrators who will fire us if we “come out” and admit we blog — ridiculous!)
Many of us do behave with ethics.
It sounds that Keen is upset that the applecart is turned over when I think it needed to be turned over.
Failure of the Media
My goodness, I like Fox News, but it isn't fair and balanced, and neither is CBS, ABC, NBC, or any other media outlet. The day when they report both sides of an issue is sadly gone and I find that I have to watch three or four of them to get the “whole story.”
They have become behemoths that internally promote those whose ideologies match the “inner circle” that controls production.
The media deserves to have “amateurs” weigh in because some amateurs provide better information — someone on the ground in Baghdad experiencing it, versus the news media sitting in a hotel in a safe zone.
Honestly, for events where many were affected, like the London Bombings, I often find that Wikipedia seems more accurate. Sure, wikipedia isn't perfect, but neither is Brittanica.
Insults do not accomplish anything, nor does stopping your ears
I am a teacher, and we teach that we do not call names. I would put Andrew Keen in the corner for calling me or anyone else who disagrees with him, a monkey.
Additionally, I think that his blanket, inaccurate statements could result in many people simply covering their ears and saying “Na na na na, I can't hear you” like the obstinate brother trying to drown out the sound of his sister singing tiptoe through the tulips.
It also reminds me of those who would stop their ears as they rushed to burn heretics at the stake. Listening to the opinions of others (yes, even Keen's) is a good thing. Listening to only one side is not.
I'm going to share with you my response over at Kelly's blog:
I’ve seen so much of this type of thinking on TV lately. I heard one man call the Internet “the Niagara of crap” — such people have obviously 1) Never seriously moved into the blogosphere and 2) it is doubtful whether they have tried blogging themselves.
I think that they are writing something that some people want to hear and unfortunately, many people are listening. It is a dangerous message but one that is welcome in a free society. What is unwelcome is the lack of exchange, reading, and discussion, and blogging is very, well, democratic.
Blogging has connected Julie Lindsay and I and allowed my predominantly Anglo Christian classroom to connect with her predominantly Arab Muslim classroom and let the kids see– “Hey, we like each other — the NEWS MEDIA IS WRONG.”
And guess what, many of us in the blogosphere – (eg. Dan Rather, Trent Lott) are finding that the news media is getting it wrong.
The news media is aghast and setting up blogs as quickly as possible — I think with some of their own out to pasture, that neither the media nor the politicians like the power wielded by this new blogosphere.
So, let us continue to act wisely and blog well. The arguments set forth by the author is that of transparency and most of us are very transparent.
Free speech is the hallmark of a democratic society and stemming the tide of the youtube streaming, cell phone catching, picture taking, mobblogging masses would be like trying to mend a breach in the Hoover Dam — maybe its possible but not likely.
Perhaps Keen will find his experience with bloggers much like that of the child who inadvertently licked a knife — judging from the over 5,000 posts about him, he is not to popular right now in the blogosphere.
Bloggers who do research and bring to light his name calling method of insult:
The villains in Keen’s narrative are a “pyjama army” of mostly anonymous writers who spread gossip and scandal, “intellectual kleptomaniacs,” who search Google to copy others’ work and the “digital thieves” of media content in the post-Napster era.
“The dangerously metaphysical Second Lifers have it the wrong way around. The future is not a spiritual immersion into a fake world, but the immersion of the personal computer in our real world.”
I find it interesting that Keen has a blog on ZDNET and is becoming part of the conversation himself — I do applaud that, because one risk you have with all of the technocrats being in the blogosphere is group think and we do need more diversity, and people who disagree. (I wonder though, does this mean he is also a pajamaed monkey-typing intellectual-property-stealing kleptomaniacle communist-Marxist now because he blogs?)
I still, however, disagree with what seems to be the apparent treatise of his book that all blogs are trash and going to somehow usurp the world of its sanity.
Business models and educational models need to change.
Yes, we need to teach a code of ethics and have professional, meaningful ways to interact on the Internet. Yes, a certain degree of civility needs to be in the mainstream places that we interact, however, ultimately, who controls the publication or non-publication of thoughts, pictures, etc. will hold the lever of the world in their sweaty little palms — and in that case, I'd like as many palms as possible. This is too great a power for small groups to determine who is credible and who is not.
I would argue that it is Keen who is the communist because although communists state that they are a government of the people – invariably there are a small few who control things and tell their people what to think (a/k/a the Great Firewall of China.) Now, we truly have more people controlling content and what is heard than ever before — that is democracy not communism.
Insult the bloggers to make a buck?
I think Keen is going to laugh all of the way to the bank on this one…insult bloggers and make money. And if I and the rest of the blogosphere continue to scream on this one, perhaps he will just take all that cash and sail around the world and another will arise in his place.
Nevertheless, we must tell our side of the story — I'm not in my pajamas, I work hard to give credit, and I look nothing like a monkey.
In fact, as a school teacher, if such an essay were submitted in my class, I would ask him to go back and make it more objective, name calling is rarely done in good taste.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
- Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
- Simple advice for coping with stress at work.
- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)