Ong Sor Fern's piece in The Straits Times (Life! section, page 6, "Clearing away the cobwebs: Andrew Keen's The Cult Of The Amateur is a refreshingly brusque critique of how culture is being cannibalised in the brave new Internet world").
For reasons of copyright, I'm not allowed to reproduce the article. Here are some main points:
- The article starts with "I HAVE never, nor will I ever, read blogs."
- Later added that blogs are "a welter of undifferentiated information that blends fact with opinion with merry disregard for consequences".
- She acknowledges that there are "intelligent bloggers out there. But trying to find them is akin to looking for a single brainy needle in an exceedingly large and, mostly dumb, haystack".
- Then a substantial part that was a book review of sorts, for Andrew Keen's The Cult Of The Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture And Assaulting Our Economy.
- The writer qualifies that "Of course, my love of old media could be seen as springing from vested interest. After all, I work in the print media, about as old school as you can get".
- And near the last part, she wrote: "... consumers of culture need to draw a line in the sand. They have to commit to paying for legitimate content, because if there is anything Web 2.0 has proven, it is that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys."
We were discussing about this in the Media-socialist group. Generally a sense of "here we go again". But no angry words. More of tired resignation.
The Straits Times writer is free to express her personal opinion of course. In a mainstream medium, no less. Wish I could express my personal opinions in a mainstream newspaper too.
But what I took issue were the linkages being drawn in the article.
For one, what has "not reading blogs" have to do with the final conclusion of "you have to pay for quality information"?
It costs nothing to read blogs. And it costs nothing to publish blogs (not counting the time, but at least we don't have to pay to get published). I'd say most bloggers don't set out to be credible or authoritative sources. For most, their primary intent is to express their personal opinions and share personal anecdotes (stuff that Mainstream is unwilling or unable to publish, for various reasons).
That's the whole point. Blogs allow people to have their say.
And two, it's absolutely wrong to generalise that bloggers write with "merry disregard for consequences".
I consider the consequences all the time. And so do the responsible bloggers I know. If I don't, I'd lose my job.
Three, there's the part that essentially says because good blogs are hard to find, then most -- if not all -- blogs are of poor quality.
That's like saying, because I can't find a good restaurant in Singapore, therefore all restaurants in Singapore are bad.
But the most telling was the opening statement -- where the writer proclaims she has never read blogs.
I'm asking myself this: "If one has never read blogs, then how would one know that the quality is poor?"
Hear-say? Third-party information?
I thought part of verifying information was to check facts for ourselves.
But what do I know?
I'm just a librarian. Who blogs (double whammy!)
- Siva said he fell for it, i.e.
- Google Blog search results for "nor will i ever, read blogs" (hat-tip to Siva again)]