Editor’s note: The following post was made by Inman News publisher Bradley Inman on the Inman News Blog. Click here to follow the discussion this post sparked or to join in.

Spreading out, dumbing down, wasting time

A sign that the Web 2.0 hoopla may be peaking is the number of critics lining up to challenge the value of new applications for connecting, sharing, self-publishing and niche communicating.

The most controversial critic is Andrew Keen who penned a new book, “The Cult of the Amateur,” which has die-hard bloggers and social networkers in a tizzy.

Warning against the dumbing down of culture, Keen challenges the great democratization promise of Web 2.0. He concludes that the movement is a hairball of casual commentary and connectivity around celebrity, tech trends and the idiosyncrasies of a small number of obsessive personalities. We are dubbed “enthusiastic monkeys.”

In a review, New York Times book review queen Michiko Kakutani declares Keen’s work “provocative” — a star of old media hailing a critic of new media.

In the Blogosphere, the reception is much chillier. Check out the podcast on KCRW, “Is Today’s Internet Killing Our Culture?” with Keen and BoingBoing blogger Xeni Jardin, among others.

Let’s face it, anything as hyperbolic as the conversational media movement is ripe for criticism. The hype is generated by the community itself and is often loud, righteous, ideological and overly sensitive. Like a blazing wildfire, it creates its own wind and is impossible for anyone to control. I am a guilty participant.

The real estate social networking movement also has its critics but not because it is dumbing-down culture.

Real estate blogger Mike Agee at Agent Scoreboard Blog writes that it is a waste of time for real estate professionals. He offers a sobering critique of the trend in his “Web 2.0 … get it now, before it’s gone!” He argues that the relationships established in these new online settings are superficial at best. In real estate, he argues that “constant contact” is essential, and “low-risk, passive activities are better suited to small-dollar selling.”

He also points out that content creation if done correctly takes time. “Real estate agents have a lot on their plate, adding “develop and maintain compelling local content is going to be a tall order for most.”

Web 2.0 guru Pat Kitano commented on Agee’s post, arguing that “in aggregate, network participation is a marketing tool, akin to listing your name in a search engine … and this shouldn’t be a lot of work.”

Of course, the commercialization of these tools brings on another layer of criticism. But since this is a superficial medium for casual commentary, I will end my post here.

–Bradley Inman

Click here to join the discussion.

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