And they also make themselves look silly in the process. This time, it is the dinosaurs of journalism, putting out all the old anti-Web canards. Perhaps we should compile an Index of Old-Journalist Claims similar to the Index of Creationist Claims (on TalkOrigins.org). Two examples this week:
My impression: we’re at the twilight of the curmudgeon class in newsrooms and J-schools. (Though they can still do a lot of damage.) You know they’re giving up when they no longer bother to inform themselves about what they themselves say is happening. And if their “who lost journalism?” call-for-justice op-ed disappears behind a pay wall so the search engines can’t find it, silencing that call online, the beautiful thing is they won’t know it happened, and they won’t understand why it matters because they never got how Google works in the first place.
It’s clown time for the curmudgeons because they’ve lost the smart people who can save the business the curmudgeons had tried to save by jeering at the stupids and their attempted changes.
Oh, and definitely read the rest and follow the excellent links within. It’s as beautiful a smackdown as anything anti-Creationists bloggers can write. Or perhaps even closer to that ideal is this marvelous fisking by Lessig of Andrew Keen’s new book “The Cult of the Amateur”:
And then it hit me: Keen is our generation’s greatest self-parodist. His book is not a criticism of the Internet. Like the article in Nature comparing Wikipedia and Britannica, the real argument of Keen’s book is that traditional media and publishing is just as bad as the worst of the Internet. Here’s a book — Keen’s — that has passed through all the rigor of modern American publishing, yet which is perhaps as reliable as your average blog post: No doubt interesting, sometimes well written, lots of times ridiculously over the top — but also riddled with errors. Keen’s obvious point is to show those with a blind faith in the traditional system that it can be just as bad as the worst of the Internet. Indeed, one might say even worse, since the Internet doesn’t primp itself with the pretense that its words are promised to be true.
So lighten up on poor Mr. Keen, folks. He is an ally. His work will help us all understand the limits in accuracy, taste, judgment, and understanding shot through all of our systems of knowledge. The lesson he teaches is one we should all learn — to read and think critically, whether reading the product of the “monkeys” (as Keen likens contributors to the Internet to be) or books published by presses such as Doubleday.
Ooooh, this hurts!
Or, as Ed does whenever asked about the problems of accuracy and trustworthiness of blogs, he has a two-word response: “Judith Miller”.