Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Friday, October 09, 2009

Andrew Keen Disproves Himself

Andrew Keen is a the author of the book 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, published in 1997.

One of Keen's contentions is that we need gatekeepers to prevent amateurs from supplanting the high-quality products of cultural professionals with inferior goods. Keen's book launched him as a controversialist and pundit. On September 29, 2009, Keen wrote the following on his blog at The Telegraph.

Wow. Sounds uncannily like the old Newton personal digital assistant to me. In Silicon Valley, failure is always considered the most meretricious badge of success. Next year, in what might be his final act, Steve Jobs will overwrite his own past. He’ll rehabilitate his most notorious failure, the Newton, by introducing the most important digital product since he introduced the first personal computer, the Apple Macintosh, back in January 1984.

In two short paragraphs (I've condensed the quotation above from two paragraphs), Keen gets the history of Apple and its co-founder wrong and proves himself a maladroit writer.

1. The Apple Macintosh was not remotely the first personal computer.

2. Steve Jobs had nothing to do with the development of the Newton. The Newton was championed by John Sculley during his tenure as CEO of Apple and was introduced in 1993. Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 and didn't return to running Apple until 1997. One of Jobs' first decisions after returning to Apple was to discontinue the Newton.

3. Steve Jobs' greatest professional mistake was producing and marketing the NeXT Computer in 1998.

4. Steve Jobs has never publically expressed interest in a tablet computer.

5. Tablet computers have been around for years, but Keen acts as if Jobs just thought of the idea.

6. The word meretricious means showy but insincere. Doesn't Keen mean meritorious?

So here we have Keen, who presents himself as superior in ability and expertise to hordes of allegedly slapdash amateurs producing an error-ridden, worthless column, abetted by those fine gatekeepers of the professional press. What a fatuous spectacle.

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