Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quality inside the multitude

The RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts) has lectures that apear among amny others on the UC podcast. In September they had a lecture titled The Great Digital Seduction. Speaker was Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today`s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy. He argues that the internet`s so-called "democratization" of information and entertainment is resulting in the dumbing down of culture and the appearance of an increasingly powerful oligarchy of anonymous online activists.

In the ensuing discussion, all the flaws of the internet are discussed, but also is the internet defended as a new medium for culture and a harbinger of a new and possibly better culture. This is one of the most important discussions I have heard in ages. It also touches on the very heart of my blog's raison d'être. The internet has revolutionized radio and other forms of audio culture and I am actively looking for high quality expressions of audio culture in podcasts. I find them, together though, with the most horrifying platitudes.

I wonder whether in this respect the Internet as a medium is so different from anything else, especially on the free market side. Looking at all that is available outside the internet, whether writing, audio or visual - there is no small amount of pulp around there to wade through as well. So is it the internet itself to blame? Or is it what we make of it? And as such a repetition of what is in the human condition and in the condition of humankind, that the highest values are the ones most abused. Where any medium of expression, allowing for the greatest works of art, can produce utter slush. Where the discipline of science, together with great insight, gives us destructive technology and where religion, the cultural enterprise designed to elevate man, is so often used to oppress and destroy him?

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