On the plane last night I read the first half of the galley of Andrew Keen’s upcoming book entitled The Cult of the Amateur. I’m not the first to mention the book, Dan Farber wrote about it in his reflection on the first decade of blogging.
Keen’s work is a book-length sneer at most of what we hold dear. He blames bloggers and podcasters for the demise of professional media, as if somehow we’re responsible for the endless coverage of Anna Nicole Smith on cable news, for Judith Miller’s complicity with the Bush White House, for the shameless way the press, without notable exception, hounded Howard Dean out of the 2004 presidential race. Of course we’re not responsible for any of those horrors, and Keen should, somewhere in this book, consider that blogging might be an attempt to solve some of the problems caused by a vacuum of responsible high-integrity journalism. I think, for the most part, bloggers would be happy to have real journalists at work at the professional pubs. I want more Woodward and Bernstein, more of the kind of investigative journalism done by the SF Chronicle following steroids in baseball, more reporters who are willing to go to jail for their principles, but I’m usually disappointed. There are countless examples in Keen’s book where he credits the pros for doing thorough work, when their work is anything but thorough. (And he owes a huge apology to Josh Wolf, a blogger who is in jail right now, for exactly the causes Keen extols.)
Further, he says over and over that Craigslist is responsible for undermining the business model of newspapers. But he doesn’t ask why the newspapers failed to embrace the Internet, making Craigslist necessary. What’s the lesson here? That the news industry is allowed to hold back progress? To what end? Sure Wikipedia has problems, but it also responds much faster than the older encyclopedias, and while I agree it’s wrong to dismiss experience and scholarship, it’s equally wrong to dismiss knowledge when it occurs in a person without the trappings of academia. The solution isn’t to call the amateurs names, the new world requires thought, and Keen does not provide any.
His book, while based on an important and valuable premise, that Silicon Valley is too-much admired for the good of all of us, including the tech industry, fails to enlighten while he props up the egos of obsolete people and businesses. Each of his arguments is easily refuted, too easily. There’s no food for thought in this book. I was ready for a work that would inspire a thoughtful response, because I like Andrew, at a personal level, but this book is beneath criticism. Back to the drawing board.
Interesting piece by Tim O’Reilly where he talks about a new set of products from Adobe. He also says they’re presenting at his upcoming ETech conference.
O’Reilly is a board member at Adobe and presumably has an interest in the success of these products.
It’s important to disclose conflicts, so the reader knows when they’re reading a biased or interested opinion.
Mike Arrington, who invests in companies, often gets heat even though he carefully discloses when he has an interest in a company he’s writing about.
I don’t invest as often as either Tim or Mike, but when I write about a company I have an interest in, if there’s any doubt whether it’s clear, I disclose.
Update #1: Dan Rabin says that O’Reilly was on the board at Macromedia, which merged with Adobe, and he is not currently on the board of Adobe.
Chris Pirillo: “The shipping version of this OS is late beta, at best.”
Jason Busch: “It’s an absolute travesty that Microsoft would have released such a half-baked product.”
I was going to buy a new MacBook Pro, it’s finally time to graduate to something real, enough trying to make-due with a consumer laptop. But then I heard that they were getting ready to announce a whole raft of new products including a sub-notebook Mac, and I put the brakes on. It’s hard for me to walk by an Apple store, I’m so tempted to just plunk down the money, but I lust after a Sony Vaio-like MacBook with its 6-hour battery life. That might be the last laptop I ever buy. Really.
Have you been following the world travels of Vice-President Cheney?
What the hell is he doing?
It’s beginning to remind me of the waning days of the Nixon presidency, when the administration had been whittled down to Nixon, Kissinger, Alexander Haig and not much else. At some point it stopped feeling like they were officers of a great country, and rather individuals, desperate to recall the trappings of power, and the harder they try, the more they reveal how alone they are. But it’s scary, because whether or not they’ve lost their gravitas, they still have the power to blow up the world.
NY Times: “A suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside the main gate of the United States military base at Bagram while Vice President Dick Cheney was inside the base. Mr. Cheney was not hurt in the attack.”
Then Condoleeza Rice compares Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler. That’s so over the top. She talks about “Chapter 7″ as if we know what that means. Sounds like a special form of bankruptcy, but I doubt that’s what it means. She’s so incredibly dishonest, it’s better to assume that everything she says is a lie than to try to sort out the truth from the lies.
Somehow I ran the battery on my MacBook down to zero on the flight home last night, no problem, I charged it up to 40 percent and then sat down to watch the end of the movie I was watching when the battery got low (I shut the case at about 15 percent).
But the sound is off and I can’t figure out how to get it back on. I pull down the sound icon in the menu bar, but it’s dimmed out. I pull up the control panel for sound, the slider is dimmed. I tried rebooting twice.
Any ideas what causes this and how to cure it?
Update #1: Vanni suggests looking at this technote, which causes me to run Audio Midi setup utility, which reveals that the system thinks it has no audio output. He asks if I hear any sound at all. Only when I reboot, it makes the big chime sound as the system starts up.
Update #2: Ideas that didn’t fix the problem — launch and quit GarageBand, zap the PRAM, etc. Ben Tucker suggested that the computer may be confused, and he was right. I had been using headphones on the plane, and when I plugged the headphones in, the slider enabled. When I unplug the headphones, it dimmed. So at least I can finish watching the movies, but only with headphones.
Update #3: Here’s the club I belong to. Not an isolated problem. Probably a bug Apple should be aware of. Apparently a toothpick properly inserted in the headphone jack will fix it. I’m reluctant to do that.