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Six Ways Matthew Ingram is Wrong about Andrew Keen Being Wrong about the Internet

Matthew Ingram published “Six ways in which Andrew keen is wrong about the internet [sic]” and I have to say, “what nonsense”. It’s so much fluff, wrapped in stock photography and Modern Typography, that it’s comical (to me… an admitted Silicon Valley Outsider).

So here on my ugly little blog, where an audience 0.0001% the size of Medium or GigaOhms will see it, I offer you:

“Six Ways Matthew Ingram is Wrong about Andrew Keen Being Wrong about the Internet”

1. The first section Ingram wrote was “It has created giant monopolies

I didn’t read Keen’s book, but after reading Matthew Ingram’s response, I can say that Ingram’s wrong about this one. In what is presented as an argument that the Internet has NOT enabled giant monopolies, Ingram almost immediately falls to the excuse “monopolies are nothing new”, and cites the Amazon/Google/Facebook examples. He says “while it’s true that network effects can help entrench these monopolies, they can also disrupt them”. As if that was relevant?

He concludes his paragraph about how wrong Keen is with a completely factless assertion “The Internet destroys as many as it creates“. Really? Where DID that DATA come from?

2. Under the claim “it’s free, but we are the product” Ingram again defers to the “it’s not as bad as” type of excuse. After noting Keen’s claims that the Internet is abusing us to make money off of us, Ingram simply states “is this really that much worse than the world of mainstream entertainment, whether it’s cable television or Hollywood movies? … Is what Facebook is doing really that bad by comparison?

I never expected someone writing about how someone else is “wrong” to simply acknolwedge the valididty of the claims, followed by “but it’s ok”. But that’s what Ingram is doing. This essay is nonsense.

3. Under “the jobs it creates are not real jobs” Ingram again acknowledges that the Internet “has helped to destroy thousands of secure and well-paying factory or middle class jobs”. He then wonders out loud why Keen didn’t list this as a “positive thing“. Really?

Again… you guessed it… Silicon Valley apologist Ingram adds a not-so-bad comment: “But isn’t this better than nothing?” I kid you not. If Keen was “wrong”, then so must be Ingram because they are in agreement on the fact.

4. Under “it hasn’t created enough value“, Ingram addresses Keen’s claim that the new jobs we have in the digital economy, like posting our content in exchange for a small share of Google’s ad revenues (or no share of Buzzfeed’s), are worse than the old jobs of assembling motor cars. I kind of thought this would be impossible to counter, even for a Silicon Valley fan boy.

But alas, if you simply reply to points with reasons why they are “not so bad”, you can counter anything. As Ingram does.

Ingram simply says that our new work is actually more like entertainment, and that we enjoy it, before he admits the economic value is indeed much less. That’s right…. less. In agreement with the very claim he says Keen got wrong. Again.

5. On the topic of “it promotes a narcissistic culture” Ingram addresses Keen’s “Cult of the Amature” propositions. Again, I did not read Keen’s work, but based on the title alone I like it. Our physical world is now filled with selfie-sticks. How can this assertion be “wrong”?

Ingram offers no argument to support a claim that Keen is “wrong”. Given the chance to argue in his own essay, Ingram simply references a status-quo argument : that the Internet simply amplified what was going on already, and also enabled expression of creativity (he threw that in to distract us, I suppose). He then asserts that this has an “incalculable” social value. Wow.

Basically we have one guy (Keen) saying these narcissistic posers are ruining the world, while Ingram thinks they are wonderful. Somewhere in there, Ingram feels ok claiming one of those opinions is “wrong”. I’m guessing you can tell the Silicon Valley fan boy from the other guy at this point, even without my help.

6. Finally, in “it’s a lawless free-for-all“, Ingram repeats his unique brand of debate one last time. Keen says piracy is bad. Ingram suggests not that it isn’t bad, but rather that these unregulated companies exploiting things like piracy will eventually get regulated, too.

Yup. He agreed the pirates bend the rules, and make money doing it, until they get caught or constrained by regulations. Sounds an awful lot like… well…. pirates?

How Ingram can frame that as disagreeng with a claim that “it’s a free-for-all” is beyond me. His argument is more like “okay, so it is a free-for-all, but not for long because it’s wrong and will have to be regulated eventually“.

This, folks, is why I don’t bother reading GigaOhm or Medium…. the vehicles used for Silicon Valley propaganda that isn’t even good enough for entertainment. It’s a stall tactic… and a disrespectful one at that. In the eyes of these pirates, you are all a bunch of idiots and will eat up this drivel while, in the mean time, they take all the cash before the regulators take action.

Life is simple. Follow the money.