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Andrew Keen

andrew keen, andrew keenan-bolger
Andrew Keen born c 1960 is a British-American entrepreneur and author He is particularly known for his view that the current Internet culture and the Web 20 trend may be debasing culture, an opinion he shares with Jaron Lanier and Nicholas G Carr among others Keen is especially concerned about the way that the current Internet culture undermines the authority of learned experts and the work of professionals


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Criticism of Web 20
  • 4 Criticism of social exhibitionism
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Keen was born in Hampstead, North London, to a Jewish family He attended the University of London, studying History under Hugh Seton-Watson, a British historian and political scientist Keen earned a bachelor's degree in history and then studied at the University of Sarajevo in Yugoslavia Having been influenced by Josef Škvorecký, Danilo Kiš, Jaroslav Hašek and especially the writings of Franz Kafka; Keen relocated to America, where he earned a master's degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, studying under Ken Jowitt After Berkeley, Keen taught modern history and politics at Tufts University, Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst He currently lives in Berkeley, California with his family


Keen returned to Silicon Valley in 1995 and founded Audiocafecom, which received funding from Intel and SAP The firm folded in April 2000 and after the demise of Audiocafecom, Keen worked at various technology companies including Pulse 3D, SLO Media, Santa Cruz Networks, Jazziz Digital and Pure Depth, where he was director of global strategic sales Keen stated in October, 2007, that he is working on his new book, tentatively titled, Star Wars 20

Criticism of Web 20

In 2005, Keen wrote that Web 20 is a "grand utopian movement" similar to "communist society" as described by Karl Marx He states:

It worships the creative amateur: the self-taught filmmaker, the dorm-room musician, the unpublished writer It suggests that everyone--even the most poorly educated and inarticulate amongst us--can and should use digital media to express and realize themselves Web 20 "empowers" our creativity, it "democratizes" media, it "levels the playing field" between experts and amateurs The enemy of Web 20 is "elitist" traditional media

— Andrew Keen, The Weekly Standard

On 5 June 2007, Keen released his first book The Cult of the Amateur, published by Doubleday Currency, and gave a talk at Google the same day The book is critical of free, user-generated content websites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Digg, Reddit and many others He prominently featured in the 2008 Dutch documentary The Truth According to Wikipedia and was also featured in the 2010 American documentary Truth in Numbers

Andrew Keen in San Francisco in 2012

Keen stresses the importance of media literacy and claims that user generated blogs, wikis and other "democratized" media, cannot match the resources of mainstream media outlets Pointing to examples like being able to gather teams together, travel to dangerous locations sometimes spending years in the region and having skilled and experienced editors oversee the process, Keen forecasts that if the current Web 20 mentality—where content is either given away or stolen—continues, in 25 years there will not exist a professional music business, newspaper industry or publishing business and challenges his audience to question whether we value these or not

Keen discusses often-overlooked problems with participatory technology He describes the Internet in amoral terms, saying it is a mirror of our culture "We see irreverence, and vitality, and excitement We see a youthfulness But we also see, I think, many of the worst developments in modern cultural life, and, in particular, I think we see what I call digital narcissism, this embrace of the self It's Time magazine's person of the year for last year was you" Keen is also heavily critical of anonymity on the Internet, believing that it makes us behave worse, not better He says: "The Web's cherished anonymity can be a weapon as well as a shield" Showing that misbehavior using anonymity has been so widely adopted, new definitions such as "trolls" and "sock puppets" have emerged

Criticism of social exhibitionism

In the book Digital Vertigo, Keen argues that the "hypervisibility" promoted by social networks like Facebook and Twitter traps us into sacrificing vitally important parts of the human experience, like privacy and solitude He compares the experience of participating in modern social networks with Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, concluding that: "The future should be anything but social"

He is not without his critics Tim O'Reilly has said: "he was just pure and simple looking for an angle, to create some controversy to sell a book, I don't think there's any substance whatever to his rants"


  1. ^ "Karlsruhe Dialogues 2011" zakkited Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT Retrieved 24 August 2011 
  2. ^ Saracevic, Alan T 15 October 2006 Debate 20 / Weighing the merits of the new Webocracy San Francisco Chronicle "Age: 46"
  3. ^ "Q&A with Andrew Keen" C-Span January 15, 2015 Retrieved 29 April 2015 
  4. ^ a b c d Keen, Andrew "Keen on Keen" archiveorg andrewkeentypepadcom Archived from the original on 28 February 2006 Retrieved 24 August 2011 
  5. ^ Balicki, Robert 21 February 2007 "Blogging Berkeley" The Daily Californian Retrieved 24 August 2011 
  6. ^ "Andrew Keen" netmagcouk Archived from the original on 21 December 2007 Retrieved 3 January 2008 
  7. ^ Keen, Andrew February 14, 2006 Web 20; The second generation of the Internet has arrived It's worse than you think The Weekly Standard
  8. ^ a b Keen, Andrew 2007 The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture America: Crown Business,Doubleday, Random House pp 256 pages ISBN 0-385-52080-8 
  9. ^ Authors@Google: Andrew Keen 's channel on YouTube
  10. ^ Keen, Andrew 2007 The Cult of the Amateur: how blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today's user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values New York: Doubleday p 27 ISBN 978-0-385-52081-2 
  11. ^ Andrew Keen 5 Jun 2007 Authors@Google: Andrew Keen SWF/FLV/Flash/h264 Videotaped Google Headquarters in Mountain View: Google Event occurs at 50:00 Archived from the original on 10 July 2011 Retrieved 24 August 2011 
  12. ^ New Book Looks at the Internet's Impact on American Life, PBS NewsHour
  13. ^ Keen, Andrew 2007 The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture Crown Business,Doubleday, Random House pp 70–75 ISBN 0-385-52080-8 
  14. ^ Keen, Digital Vertigo page 193
  15. ^ Tim O'Reilly 7 Apr 2008 The Truth According to the Wikipedia SWF/FLV/Flash/h264 Documentary VPROinternational Event occurs at 38:30 Retrieved 24 August 2011 

External links

  • Andrew Keen's blog
  • The Internet is not the Answer, an interview with Andrew Keen at the Digital Life Design DLD 2015 Annual Conference Posted on the official YouTube Channel of DLD
  • AudioCafecom, circa 1998 via Internet Archive
  • Andrew Keen at the Internet Movie Database
  • Appearances on C-SPAN

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