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The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture

2.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,068 ratings  ·  237 reviews

Amateur hour has arrived, and the audience is running the show

In a hard-hitting and provocative polemic, Silicon Valley insider and pundit Andrew Keen exposes the grave consequences of today’s new participatory Web 2.0 and reveals how it threatens our values, economy, and ultimately the very innovation and creativity that forms the fabric of American achievement.


Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Currency (first published 2007)
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Average rating 2.82  · 
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 ·  1,068 ratings  ·  237 reviews

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Let me start by saying that I opened this book with a totally open mind. Seriously! I too think that blogs, MySpace, and YouTube are doing horrible things to our culture in this country, so I though I was going to be the choir this guy was preaching to.

Not so.

And let me say, too, that the reason this is two stars and not one (and actually was almost three) is that it really made me mad, and really made me think, which is no small feat. Plus it got me into several (loud) arguments w
Lon Harris
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Keen gets off to a dazzlingly bad start, misstating the concept of Google search on Page 6.

"The logic of Google's search engine...reflects the "wisdom" of the crowd. The search engine is an aggregation of the ninety million questions we collectively ask Google each day; in other words, it just tells us what we already know."

Is this intentionally dense? I mean, yes, Google uses the experiences others have had in some ways to create your new experience when you enter a sear
Aug 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2007, society
In a nutshell, the book comes close to making some valid points, but treats them so frivolously and superficially that by the end of the last chapter you feel like you've just spent an hour listening to your great-grandma's best friend Eileen talk about how much her corns are bothering .

Throughout the book, Keen lacks any sense of historical context. You feel like he believes that nothing happened in popular culture prior to 1990. He blames the internet for television's audience frag
Feb 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: digital-economy
If you tend to get pulled into discussions about the pros and cons of social media, Andrew Keen’s “The cult of the amateur” is a good book to get you all fired up. It is full of holes, plenty of hyperbole, and comes across as an angry dissertation by someone who wanted to get things off his chest in a hurry. But that’s precisely why it’s important to check it out.

These are the kind of arguments someone in the room will bring up when debating whether comments ought to be moderated, or
Feb 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who get inspired when they're pissed off.
It's been a very long time since I've read a book so in opposition to most of my core values regarding creativity and expression. From page one and on almost every page following, I've found things that offend me. This book avoided a no-star rating only because the writer has inspired me to be more committed to my views on independent creative endeavors.
Oct 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Internet Junkies
Recommended to Tom by: Barnes & Noble
I went into reading this book having already viewed a Google talk video where the author discussed it and took Q&A. I found that the core tenet of the book, that the "Web 2.0" so-called democratization of all media is a profoundly bad thing that undermines talent and professional skill and does nothing to enrich our lives, is pretty accurate. The promise of the democratization, that an average citizen can publish a blog post, a song or a video that is as valuable to the reader, listener and ...more
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one.
Given that Andrew Keen is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, whose writings have appeared have appeared in a number of prestigious publications, I surmise that he is reasonably intelligent and well-informed about technology and culture. It is with great shock and disappointment that I read the book "The Cult of the Amateur."

Keen believes that all these empowered individuals (like you and me) are 1) poisoning civic discourse by blurring the lines between facts, inferences and opinions, 2) destroying
Aug 31, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: members of the flat-earth society
This book made me all kinds of cranky. I accept the premise on its face, that the web is chock full of amateurs blathering on about their most mundane thoughts and dreams. I part ways with the author when he claims that our culture and values will be destroyed because of it. By decrying the fate of the major movie studios and record labels, and the precipitous drop in their revenues, it's pretty clear who he's writing this book for. By pretending that the public at large has a relationship of in ...more
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Based on the title, I thought this was going to be another book about the Bush Administration. But instead of being about the incompetence, hubris, cronyism, and greed that’s running our government and ruining our country, The Cult of The Amateur is about the incompetence, vanity, narcissism, and greed that’s running the Internet and killing our culture.

Overall, Keen’s polemic is a very relevant book and one I wish everyone would read. It’s sure to spark a lot of debate at dinner par
Tim Chang
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, sociology
pretty far on the rant-ish end of the spectrum, but some excellent and thought-provoking points are made.

Here were the key takeaways and questions that the book raised for me:
- democratization of content/media results in the loudest (and often least credible) getting most attention, and hence you can't trust anything on the web.
- this is leading to the death of culture (and the loss of taste makers and fact checkers) and commerce -- the trend is towards overall value-destruction (vs. val
Dec 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
First of all, I find it highly amusing to review this book online, since Keen thinks the proliferation of blogs is the scourge of all culture.

The first few chapters are one long, often repetitive, diatribe. He bemoans the “editor-free world” on the Net because the result is propaganda, deception, and advertising disguised as entertainment or news. Plus, people lose jobs, since traditional media outlets for paid reporters, editors, and music labels are losing their consumer base to th
Jul 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
While Keen does make some interesting points, his constant railing against all aspects of Web 2.0 grows old. We get it. You don't like user-created content, at least when it is created by people other than yourself (more on this later). Keen might be trying to get us to rally to the cause of saving the Internet, but in the end one can't help but wonder if he is just a bitter man who missed the 2.0 boat.

As one can expect from the title of the book, he is not fond of amateurs, stating that profes
Mike Van Campen
Jun 29, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: folks interested in Web 2.0 and technology
I expected to be upset by this book. I was. This is no more than a poorly reasoned and weekly supported anti-Web 2.0 rant by a failed Internet entrepreneur. His claims that the participatory nature of Web 2.0 will ruin culture because it removes the highly trained cultural gatekeepers (publishers, record and move producers, etc.) from the equation of what we read, watch, listen to, etc. is ludicrous. If these gatekeepers were providing such high quality content the 2.0 revolution wouldn't be an ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ppe
I don't remember when was the last time I got so frustrated and angry with a book that it hurts to read it and I want to yell at it every 15 seconds.

Yes, I do have the benefit of 8 years of hindsight. But it is incredible how every single distopian prediction this book makes didn't materialize. It just utterly fails at imagining alternatives, it is pompously elitist and arrogant, and it just doesn't get technology or the internet or innovation or change or people or the world.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people I really hated
Keen should be ashamed of himself. This book is littered with factual errors. It also has many statistics taken out of context that seem alarming, but when compared with historical statistics completely destroy his argument rather than support it. Did Doubleday even fact-check it?

Either this book is a satire meant to show that the publishing world is no better than the Web 2.0 world he decries, or it's a complete travesty.
Roger Tavares
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
This could be a good book. Some facts are strong and valid, and could be better analyzed. But the book lacks in methodology, analysis and good informational basis. These faults make this book an amateur, such as those the book itself criticizes.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
Andrew Keen does well to identify the book as a polemic. It is poorly written and rambles. While I find the subject interesting and timely, this is not the book one should read to explore it. I also have some problems with so-called "Web 2.0" culture, but I do NOT want this man speaking for me.
Kaethe Douglas
Mar 09, 2012 marked it as stricken
Oh noes! After a brief period in the history of humanity when people were paying others to amuse and inform them, now they are once again amusing and informing themselves and one another.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Check out my interview with Keen on THE FUTURIST Website:

From the Jan-Feb 2008 issue of THE FUTURIST
In his new book, The Cult of the Amateur, (Currency, 2007) blogger and Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen explores today's new participatory Internet, (often referred to as Web 2.0). He argues that too much amateur, user-generated, free content is threatening not only mainstream media—newspapers, magazines, and record and movie companies—but our very culture. We asked Keen what today's Inter
Duy Tran
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I purchased this book a while ago, only read the beginning of it but I have absolutely loved it. Even though it is quite ironic how I’m reviewing this online, I just want to share my thoughts and the reason why I gave it 4 stars.
Andrew Keen made the Cult of the Amateur seem a bit negative. He criticizes pretty much everything on the internet and now it looks like a place that has nothing good on it. This is not entirely true since NOW we have lots of talents out there that gets known with
May 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
The crux of The Cult of the Amateur, journalist Andrew Keen's polemic on participatory Web culture, lies right at the beginning. In fact, the only passage I really enjoyed here is the following, in the foreword:
Last summer, Stephen Colbert invited me onto his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report. “You, sir,” Colbert shouted, leaning forward and jabbing his finger under my nose. “You, sir, are an elitist!”

“Yes, I am,” I admitted, backing away from Colbert's finger. “What's wrong with that?”

Finally!, I thoforeword:Last
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: know-your-enemy
Often described as a polemic, "The Cult of the Amateur" is simply a screed against societal and economic change. It is a moralistic bombast against the populist notion of cooperation and collaboration in favor of a single point of reference determined and espoused by an expert. The author pulls out all of the goblins: narcissism, lying, thievery, gambling and pornography; to warn readers that their culture is under siege by know-nothing friends and neighbors bent on self-expression and actualiza ...more
Mark Mikula
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Cult of the Amateur takes the view that opening up the web to all voices has a decidedly negative impact on our culture. With newspapers needing to layoff workers, Keen makes the point that expertise is being lost to masses of people who are, in many cases, ill-equipped to maintain journalistic standards. The web's cloak of anonymity and the amateur status of many bloggers and videographers also keep individuals from being held accountable for their views. Keen also questions how many individuals c ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As a person who makes her income online, I could not resist reading a book that claimed – in the title no less – that the internet is assaulting our economy. Luckily, I made a good choice with this one and could hardly put it down until I finished reading it.

Andrew Keen starts off with a strong argument. You have heard of the Infinite Monkey Theorem? Infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters can create Shakespeare? According to Keen, “Today’s technology hooks all those monkeys up wi
Jun 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
There are two books with this name and I thought this was the other one. This one is the stupid one, a scree against youtube, wikipedia and crowds in general.

It is primarily about the ill effects of the web.

My critique, such as it is, benefits from hindsight, as when the book was written wikipedia had only 3 million entries. Still, as polemic, this book is all noise and no substance. It decries mob rule on the web and the fall of the expert. It intentionally devalues daily human act
Reading this book was like listening to someone complain that the advent of the printing press destroyed the lives and careers of every town crier and would ultimately be the ruination of us all. Despite pouring forth much data and citing statistics to bolster his claim that the Internet and everyone who participates in and with it are degrading our culture and society to the point that we'll all be mindless, addicted idiots without a culture, he came across as a narrow-minded old fogey. His maj ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Unlike many reviewers, I didn't find this book to be elitist. While I love social media and see potential for real learning to take place in Web 2.0 environments, I am bothered by the the sense of being entitled to free stuff that seems so common these days. I agree that people who produce creative work deserve to be compensated. Keen articulates the problem pretty clearly in the first half of the book.

The second half seems to lose focus a bit. While Internet addiction, porn, and gam
Jan 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: internet startup posers
Shelves: nonfiction
Absolutely laughable. Contradictory screed on how mainstream culture must be protected from...mainstream culture. Hilarious.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
What's the difference between real journalists and these news/amateur bloggers? The real journalist could go to jail for writing fake news and losing their job for good, but these fake news spreader won't!

“T. H. Huxley, the nineteenth-century evolutionary biologist and author of the “infinite monkey theorem.” Huxley’s theory says that if you provide infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters, some monkey somewhere will eventually create a masterpiece—” quote from this book.

I had gre
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Keen founded and looked as if he might be one of the rich kids of the net before, in 2004, seeing the light. In this impassioned polemic, while obviously still retaining much of his enthusiasm for the good things that the net might prove to be, he warns us of all the aspects we prefer to ignore -- i.e., he tries to shake us out of our collective state of denial over the dangers not so much of digital piracy (although he has plenty to say on this) or the oceans of hardcore porn engu ...more
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Andrew Keen is one of the world’s best known and controversial commentators on the digital revolution.He is the author of three books: Cult of the Amateur, Digital Vertigo and his current international hit The Internet Is Not The Answer which the London Sunday Times acclaimed as a "powerful, frightening read" and the Washington Post called "an enormously useful primer for those of us concerned tha ...more
“T. H. Huxley, the nineteenth-century evolutionary biologist and author of the “infinite monkey theorem.” Huxley’s theory says that if you provide infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters, some monkey somewhere will eventually create a masterpiece—” 0 likes
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