Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur

The book, The Cult of the Amateur, by Andrew Keen, examines the cultural revolution being spawned by Web 2.0 and its millions of users. He argues that this new form of media and information sharing is killing our culture, replacing experts and professionals with speculative, no-talent amateurs. Where there were once cultural gatekeepers- publishing houses, editors,
curators; with the web, anybody can post a video, regardless of quality. This, he says, is destroying our publishing, music, and news-gathering industries.
While much of the blogs are opinionated rants, and newspapers and television have dumbed themselves down for the general public; there is a space, a need that this new venue fills. It allows, like never before, the ability for people to move their energy.
Why limit creativity?- that amazing urge, that indescribable need to "do"? This is an outlet for people to express themselves, create books and t-shirts, artwork and express anger in the form of rants.
Most of the time they are not award winning pieces of work, but they are testaments to energy allowed to flow, ideas and attention that was brought to the surface. The physical content merely reflects what once was.
It is the energy we cannot see with our eyes, but it is physical and real nonetheless. It has moved through the machine. The end result, good or bad, is that it journeyed. And that is what we strive for, to move and transform our energy.
There have always been artists and writers, scientists and musicians who were not considered great in their time. The professionals Mr. Keen sentimentally desires were once themselves amateurs, perhaps rejected from the professional world.
Everyone must start at the beginning- an unknown. We should be careful to idealize "professionals." They are the living vessels that energy used to create. But they are not alone in this. Lightning can strike in more than one place.
We do not create for titles, we create because we must. It is always wonderful when the general public engages and responds to the product, but we labor for something much greater. We move our energy to transform ourselves, our space, our perceptions and perceived limitations. We create for the beings and realities I have no words to name.

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