‘The Cult of the Amateur’
• Coined by Nicholas G Carr, October
• Response to New‐Age rhetoric of
Wired magazine’s Steven Levy and
– ‘Free‐ﬂoaPng nePzens’
– ‘the language of rapture’
‘The Trend Spo5er’
• ‘the idea of collecPve consciousness is
becoming manifest in the Internet’
– Steven Levy, Oct 2005,
• Web 2.0 = parPcipaPon?
‘We Are the Web’
• “The accrePon of Pny marvels can
numb us to the arrival of the
stupendous. … This view is spookily
godlike … I doubt angels have a be9er
view of humanity… Why aren't we more
amazed by this fullness? … Only small
children would have dreamed such a
magic window could be real”
– Kevin Kelly, Aug 2005,
‘We Are the Web’
• “What we all failed to see was how much of
this new world would be manufactured by
users, not corporate interests.”
Blogging: the gi< economy?
• “I run a blog … for my own delight and for the
beneﬁt of friends. The Web extends my passion
to a far wider group for no extra cost or eﬀort….
[My] site is part of a vast and growing gid
economy, a visible underground of valuable
creaPons ‐ text, music, ﬁlm, sodware, tools, and
services ‐ all given away for free. This gid
economy fuels an abundance of choices. It spurs
the grateful to reciprocate. It permits easy
modiﬁcaPon and reuse, and thus promotes
consumers into producers.”
• Consumers into producers?
– Alvin Toﬄer (1980, The Third Wave)
• ‘The electricity of parPcipaPon nudges ordinary
folks to invest huge hunks of energy and Pme into
making free encyclopedias, creaPng public
tutorials for changing a ﬂat Pre, or cataloging the
votes in the Senate.’
– Kelly, 2005
• Mass producPon Mass innovaPon
The Inﬁnite Album
• “I'd love to put out an album that you could edit
and mix and layer directly in iTunes. We did a
remix project on a Web site a few years back
where we put up the tracks to a song and let
people make their own versions. There was
something really inspiring about the variety and
quality of the music that people gave back. In an
ideal world, I'd ﬁnd a way to let people truly
interact with the records I put out – not just
remix the songs, but maybe play them like a
– Beck, Sept 2006,
New forms of collaboraFon
• 21st century
• Mass collaboraPon
• DemocraPc parPcipaPon
Wisdom of crowds?
• Crowds be9er at decision making than
small groups of experts
– Sir Francis Galton
– Plymouth, 1906
– Guess weight of oxen
– Crowd more accurate taken as a whole
than individual experts
• Sharing of informaPon via Internet
– improves creaPvity
– improves ideas
– improves innovaPon
– improves democracy
• Outsourcing of ideas to a large
– open calls for help
– the hive mind
– collecPve problem solving
1. Is Web 2.0 a democraPsing force or
should we be scepPcal of such claims?
2. Do the beneﬁts of ‘crowdsourcing’
outweigh its problems?
3. Does mass parPcipaPon beneﬁt
business and culture alike?
4. Are the crowd an eﬀecPve resource?
5. Is the future one of mass
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