When I interviewed Jeff Jarvis for “Social Media Is Bullshit“, I told him I felt like the feud he was embroiled in with Evgeny Morozov was essentially an academic shit fight.
And it’s one I really, truly want no part of.
So when I found out a while ago that St. Martin’s Press (my publisher) was putting out Andrew Keen’s “Digital Vertigo”, I was kind of relieved. Keen’s book is very academic.
He’s quoting famous philosophers, I’m quoting Bill Hicks.
His book is also an anti-social media book, but thankfully, that’s about where the similarities end.
I figure this way, Keen can continue the academic shit fight with Jarvis, Morozov, Shirky, Rosen, and all those guys, and I can kind of be left alone to do my own thing.
My attitude is, I’ll do everything humanely possible to promote this book, but in the end, I just want people to buy it, read it, and be entertained and a little enraged. Enraged enough to help get the word out about one of the biggest scams ever pulled on the American public, and entertained enough to remember what they read.
I don’t care about the academic shit fight.
That’s not to say I won’t pop up occasionally to contribute to the debate (there’s something brewing this Summer where I’m going to be doing exactly that, and again at U.Florida in the Spring), but that wasn’t the goal or the intention of the book. I’m only doing those things temporarily to promote “Social Media Is Bullshit”.
And more importantly, for me anyway, it’s not something I plan on making a career out of.
Put another way, if you see someone introduce me to an audience as a “professional skeptic” a year from now, you have my permission to shoot me in the face.
The Keen book is way more concerned about what the effects of the Internet (lazily referred to by everyone these days as “social media” even though “social media” just describes shit you find and use on the Internet) on us as people.
I’m more concerned with identifying members of the Asshole Based Economy and putting a dent in their bullshit machine.
(The Asshole Based Economy is made up of the legion of “experts”, marketers, analysts, (most) tech bloggers, and other assorted idiots who want to oversell and overhype everything and anything the Internet may allow people to do in order to make a buck.)
There’s probably only one part of my book that overlaps with Keen’s. I do talk about how the Arab Spring was mostly a myth created by Western media outlets that had no idea what the fuck was actually going on in the Middle East, and how Occupy Wall Street (and the SOPA protestes) wasn’t at all the leaderless, “people power” movement it was made out to be by members of the Asshole Based Economy.
But that’s a very tiny piece of things.
I’m a big Andrew Keen fan, even though (and this might shock you), we don’t actually agree on a lot of stuff. I don’t think the Internet is bad or that it has a disastrous effect on me as a person or on society as a whole.
I just think what it can do for humanity has been grossly oversold by the Western media, and it’s mostly a playground for the wealthy, run by corporations who make themselves rich off stuff they mostly borrowed or didn’t create in the first place.
The Internet is great … if you’re rich.
And if you’re rich, you have the time and inclination to read the ongoing academic shit fight about the Internet, but if you have that kind of time and money, I didn’t write this book for you in the first place. Keen did.