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« An Interview with Jon Banquer, "Enfant Terrible" of CAD/CAM | Main | An Interview with David Ptak, President of SolidProfessor »

July 16, 2007


anna quadrio curzio

It’s a stimulating interview for an hight school teacher like me.
Andrew says “that the kids today are sort of media illiterate, they have no idea what they're reading”, but 100 years ago 50% of kids ware totally illiterate, they couldn’t even read. And then “in so-called community sites like MySpace and YouTube just a lot intellectual piracy and moral corruption” but also on TV programs like The Big Brother isn’t different. Human nature doesn’t change, and Internet 2.0 isn’t different.

And about “good” and “relevant” content.

It’s very difficult to learn how to value a web site, teaching how to use a search engine in a smart way is a challenge. In a close future the real challenge will be to find a way to clear up all the present rubbish and not related items from search engines. Now they are too much influenced by web masters’ trick. None artificial intelligence can go on better than human critical spirit.

About law in Internet: why not a meta-law, a social contract valid in all countries?


A very interesting intervew. By the way, I share many of Andrew's points of view, those regarding the misunterstood concept of "freedom" that is often confounded with anarchy, but especially regarding the pivotal concept that the web 2.0 is not very representative of reality because its underlying paradigm is that "good is not who is good but who is good in communicating, or knows how to use the communication channels".
On the other hand, I found some contradictions: first, he states he relies on mainstream media, then acknowledges that those are far from being "ideal" as he would like them to be, but he doesn't come to a synthesis or gives any suggestion for it. The second, most important one is related to the social contract: it seems to me that reaching a collective agreement is something fancyful, not very realistic if not impossible, just following Andrew's kind of analysis. We must state that Web 2.0 is moved by the crowd, I agree that the crowd is not an intelligent entity, it escapes me how it could wisely come to a collective social contract. Historically, the crowd has led to the production of conflicts, not agreements. And I think that Andrew is aware of this, between the lines, when he talks about a "more aggressive social contract"

Mario Esposito

Dear Franco and dear Andrew,

first of all I want to thank Franco for making me to know Andrew Keen and his new book (that I'd like to win...).

On my blog, - an italian blog -, I've just commented this interesting interview but I don't want to translate it because I prefer to say some other things too.

According to Andrew Keen's answers, I can resume these six points of his thought about Web 2.0:

1.Web 2.0 is anarchy;
2.Web 2.0 is often bad for education of our young people
3.Web 2.0 need a "strong" ethic code
4.Web 2.0 is "only" technology, not democracy
5.Web 2.0 is destroying mainstream media, but media are the source of its existence
6.Web 2.0 is generating a new oligarchy of skilled "self promoter" and guru of WWW

I could just agree with everyone of these six points, but I also think that Keen's conclusions are too "colored" towards mainstren media.

I think that Internet doesn't need an ethic code, because it's only an utopian ideology like Don Chisciotte fight against the pinwheel.

Even if, like Franco Folini has reminded to me, Andrew is English and not American, I find that his point of view about an ethic code of Web 2.0 is very "american" because only a great faith can do us believe that the solution to the anarchy of the Internet could be an ethic code accepted by a large number of people that come from different States and have a different cultures.

The cyberbullism e.g. is certainly a great problem, but it must not become the side by which some people could re-establish the "status quo" before the Internet "revolution".

It's also impossible in my opinion.

Barry Buzan, an English Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics,in his last book titled "The United States and the Great Powers: World Politics In The Twenty-First Century", published in 2004, has written that there are three main traits in Usa politics of XXI century:

2.Manicheism (in the meaning of a "crusader spirit" to force its politics and economic ideology all over the world)
3.Iper-safety and militarization of politics

In this scenario, the Tom O'Reilly's "crusade" for an ethic code is - imho - only a loss of time and energy and a sort of "moral manicheism".

So the problem, in my opinion, is totally different : we need more democracy to control the politicians, the capitalistic elites and the new oligarchy of Technology, and Internet is today just the more effective tool to do it.

The "digital citizens" rather need to learn how to use Internet in a better way to increase Democracy and Freedom in their States.

And people like Andrew Keen I think could contribute very much to achieve these goals rather than to engage for limiting digital liberty of Web 2.0.

Don't you agree?


This is certainly interesting and you cover some cultural components that really show the affect of how we interact with people and ultimately how we treat them. Without a doubt, the issues that stem out of every segment of society come back to a person’s moral world view and how they come about that world view. Without getting into too much, I could very easily say, this is all quite simple, people need to do this and that and this law needs to define how business is to be conducted. But this boils everything down to shear prescriptivism and holds expectations like a knife against a very taut tether.

We can prescribe stuff all day, but the plausibility structure changes depending on the setting. The Internet is at the crux of this because it’s easy and accessible. But making something inaccessible does not make people less immoral or less corrupt. Moral corruption has never been confined to the digital media. What it may do is enhance the visibility of a morally depraved world plagued by irresponsible people. You are right when you say, we all have the responsibility. However, responsibility can not be forced on someone.

In the end, it really comes down to character. Character is what drives us to toil for what we enjoy and be respectful of other peoples needs. I believe, people do have an innate conscience. Conscience in turn is intensified by character, which should be mainly taught through parents (instead of the tv) and proven through responsible actions. Therefore I would say that it’s not amateurs that are killing today’s culture, but the lack of people with strong moral character that ignore their conscience. But if by amateurs, you imply irresponsible morally corrupt people, then yes, they are killing today’s culture. That is true on and offline.

If everyone loves each other and puts more favor in others than in ones self, things will begin to get better and better until there is no sign of jealousy, greed or corruption.

As a new blogger, I struggle a lot with if I’m actually adding worth or just filling the rubbish bin. I ask myself as I’m doing posts if it’s actually going to help or add value. I’ve canned a lot of content. It helps to have a business model, but I’d say it also helps to have a conscience.

This is a great interview and I look forward to reading the book.


This is a very interesting interview. A blog interviewing a guy who holds blogs in disdain. I've written opinions similar in some ways to Mr. Keens on my blog, but related specifically to CAD software rather than cyber-life in general. Problems with CAD software are only a symptom of bigger society problems.

One of my more popular posts was entitled "The Democratization of CAD". The main premise was that CAD companies are continuously lowering the bar, including more non-specialists to broaden their market. So are we getting pop-consumer products designed by amateurs? The argument about blogs being pop-rabble products is similar in many ways.

Democratization is not necessarily a good thing. Society is ruled by the most numerous bloc, which is seldom the most wise. The alternatives are medeival rule of the strong arm bullies, or oligarchical rule of the intellectual/financial bully. The alternative is a shack in the mountains.

I'm 40 years old, and grew up in the very early stages of the personal computer revolution. Folks 10 years younger were immersed in it, and to folks 10 years older it was a foreign concept. I embrace the web2.0, while trying to shun its vapid emptiness. It's like a teen ager who has been suppressed for years, finally breaking out from under the parent's protective wing - you've got to rebel and find out where the boundaries are. I think society will at some point mature past this stage, but the process is painful to watch.

Still I value traditional print media, being the author of a 3.5 lb slab of printed paper called the SolidWorks 2007 Bible. An old fashioned printed book being used to edify the dumb-it-down software which helps us design fad-ridden pop-consumer products? That's more than a little irony. Even in the print media, though, publishers want to filter your product through a homogenizer, and make it fit a template.

There will always be tyranny, whether it be a power crazed dictator or the senseless mob.

Mario Esposito

Dear Franco and dear Andrew,
you can read my opinion about this interview on my blog (it's in Italian...).
Please tell me if you need a translation.


Steven Kempton

I believe one of the key problems is with thinking that "Web 2.0" and the "blogosphere" have "core values" or is a "movement". Blogs and other web 2.0 activities are an individual expression on a person by person basis. You treat them the same way as I'm sure Andrew would like his book treated, individually. If someone lumped his book into a bi