Monday, June 04 2007

Amateurs and Experts

I usually need to wait for a post from a real blog before I write a post, so I can have someone important to refer to, and to give some insight as to how what I say relates to real issue.  I can't pretend I'm a good writer.  Part of the reason I started writing is to learn to write.

My last post refers to the benefits of the reduced barriers to entry in allowing more people to work at producing content.  Today, I read Glenn Reynolds and he links to Lawrence Lessig's critique of Andrew Keen's book, "The Cult of the Amateur".  Keen is sharply critical of what I praised in the last post, so we'll have to agree to disagree.

One thing I want to bring up is Keen's disparagement of amateurs as opposed to experts, citing (for example) Wikipedia and the internet in general as examples of amateurs lowering the level of the discourse by publishing unverifiable or even false facts and clouding the debate, and that he prefers the established media with experts for finding the truth.

My complaint is that the media by and large isn't composed in experts in anything except journalism.  Certain journalists have enough experience in other specific areas (Middle Eastern politics, sports, etc.) to claim some degree of expertise, but so do those of us in the public at large.

Any time I read a story in the paper about something I have taken an interest in, I can count on finding simplifications, distortions, omissions and outright false information.  Journalists are human, just like the rest of us, and its a challenge packaging information for the unique product that is the modern American media.  This means that they are not infallible conveyors of information, and pretending that they are only serves to increase the disconnect with consumers of news.

Posted by: Civilis at 08: 11 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 It's not just journalists. I saw an glossy illustrated pseudo-encyclopedia of guns in a store yesterday, by one David Miller. In his SKS article he claimed that Simonov somehow applied the lessons of St.G 43 to create SKS out of AVS, which is just plain false. In fact, SKS is a scaled-down PTRS (which is clearly evident to anyone who's seen it). So much for the expertise.

Posted by: Author at Jun 11 15 56 (9imyF)


I never place much stock in glossily-illustrated psuedo-encyclopedias for technical details.  While I have a couple of compact field-guide type books for reference, I don't take them as the last word, especially on details.

Posted by: Civilis at Jun 12 11 27 (huKGY)

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