Is Web 2.0 useful or is Andrew Keen right?

I’ve been reading Andrew Keen’s the Cult of the Amateur which I bought almost a year ago at the conference in York, Towards a Social Science of Web 2.0. I must be honest I’m not enjoying it much as I find it hugely negative about everything web 2.0 related. Sure, Keen does have a point that user generated content has led to a proliferation of rubbish on the internet. He raises all sorts of issues which similarly concern me, about plagiarism and piracy, about dumbing down of culture, about the rise in internet gambling and proliferation of internet pornography. But surely web 2.0 can’t be held accountable for all these problems! His overriding concern seems to be how all this user generated content is killing our mainstream media, however certainly the two news providers I rely on most heavily (BBC news website and the Guardian) are embracing new technologies. It’s clear to me that user generated content has a place, but it is clearly flagged up on these sites and could never replace the stories written by journalists.

This week I’ve also been investigating ways in which quality information providers, such as journals, library databases, and our repository at LSE, provide RSS feeds to allow content to be pushed to users. I’ve been specifically concerned with developing some training materials for how to add RSS feeds to Moodle for the Advanced Moodle Training course I’ll be doing later this week. It’s led me to do some minor reorganisation of my pages on the CLT website, to provide some specific advice about using different types of library resources in Moodle.

More updates, you may or may not have noticed that has had a face lift. I’m still getting my head around this change, but its generally been met with enthusiasm by most delicious users I know. You can have a read what Ellyssa says about delicious.

Thanks to Sheila who highlighted the recent query on LIS-infoliteracy about Copyright Tutorials. Anyone who wants a list of these should check out her post. Next week I’ll be back on the conference circuit again, talking at the ALISS summer conference at SOAS about Web 2.0 and libraries – to make a change!

This week’s photo was taken at Queen’s University Belfast, a week and a half ago, while attending the ALISS event held there.


3 thoughts on “Is Web 2.0 useful or is Andrew Keen right?

  1. Ah — who remembers the good old days before that nasty Web 2.0 came along? 😉

    Those were the halcyon days when students never plagiarised, people never copied music or video tapes, the only books that were ever published were all written by experts, pornography and gambling had yet to be invented, everything produced by mainstream media was of the highest professional quality, and Mr Keen’s fine web site ( had yet to go belly up and bankrupt in the bubble bursting of 2000.

  2. I read Andrew Keen’s book last year and was struck by his apocalyptic view of Web 2.0. He made a number of sound points, such as those, you mentioned, Jane but like you said, there is more to Web 2.0 than “user-generated rubbish” such as appears on YouTube or the like. I have doubts about Wikipedia but things like Slideshare, Flickr and RSS feeds surely have their place even in the library world. My hope is that as a library and knowledge service we will begin to deploy Library / Web 2.0 technologies to the benefit of our users. Surely, they now expect more than a static mid-90s website?

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