"In a world with fewer and fewer professional editors or reviewers, how are we to know what and whom to believe?"
This question doesn't keep me awake nights–we'll muddle through somehow. But Andrew Keen is nigh apoplectic about the current state of affairs in his new book The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture.
Craig Seligman's scathing Bloomberg.com review takes issue with Keen's love of traditional authorities:
Given Keen's belligerent confidence in the superiority of traditional media, it seems worth pointing out that his copy editor missed several grammatical gaffes ("it is us who are faced with the task …"); his fact checker failed to point out that "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" wasn't written by "Gibbons"; and his editor allowed him to get by with prose that often sounds as though it had been lifted from brochures. ("Nothing is more important in a democracy such as ours than an informed citizenship." As opposed to a democracy such as whose?)
The man has a truffle hound's nose for the trite.
Amazon.com (Keen "blames the closing of independent bookstores on the Internet") recommends buying Keen's rant with David Weinberger's excellent Everything is Miscellaneous, which I discussed with him in an interview for the upcoming print edition and blogged here.
Weinberger is essentially the anti-Keen, and his book makes an excellent antidote to Keen's hysteria, but since all those amateur reviews and the sales figures generated by ordinary book buyers (gasp!) suggested the match, I suppose it can't be trusted.