I read a blog entry today giving an opinion regarding a book on the topic of whether or not user-created content is killing our culture (Is the web killing our culture? – (37signals) ). My immediate reaction to the topic of the article was that the author of the book is probably a professional writer who resents the intrusion of all the bloody amateurs into his career plans.
My opinion has long been that there is a risk of users of the Internet becoming creators of their own reality. I can spend my whole life on the Internet reading “news” and opinions tailored to my specific beliefs and interests. This is true whether I’m an intelligent, introspective person willing to consider dissenting viewpoints, or whether I’m a right wing, neo-Nazi anti-Semitic member of the NRA. I tend to believe that the vast majority of people are more prone to ask questions and expand their horizons rather than isolate themselves into an echo chamber consisting of their own personal quirks. But the jury is still out- it will be decades before we really know how the Internet is changing us socially and politically.
Unfortunately, on first glance at the review of the book at least, it sounds like the author may have spent more time focused on the amateur nature of the content created instead of on the potential “echo chamber” effect I describe above. The implication being that the only way we’ll get a da Vinci or Beethoven is if we silence the musings and creations of Joe Sixpack. If that’s his real perspective, I’m not likely to find much to inspire deeper thinking: instead, I might just think the author is an elitist wanker.
However, in the interest of looking at the other side of things, I’ve bought/downloaded his book and added it to my reading list. I’ll be looking at it in the next month or so. I’ll render my very amateur opinion here on my narcissistic Web 2.0ish blog in a few weeks…kinda ironic, isn’t it?