Roger L. Simon

The Sunday "Papers" and The Way of the World

It’s interesting to read Aaron Hanscom’s article about Spain on PJM this morning in conjunction with today’s New York Times editorial on Iraq (surprise: they want us to get out) and blog commentary on Andrew Keen’s new book The Cult of the Amateur.

I take it Keen’s book – which I am unlikely to have time to read in this life – blames the Internet for the decline of culture and a new rise in amateurism. Forget the obvious that many art forms – film, theater, the novel, fine art – were in serious decline long before the Internet, the idea is almost too simplistic to comment upon. Keen also evidently bemoans the assault on legitimate expertise by blogs. (Really? Hello, Eugene Volokh!)

The obvious truth is that blogs are no more nor less than a publishing platform. Just as on any platform, good things will appear while the vast majority will be mediocre. Keen may feel quality is threatened here, but I wonder. In the long run it may be the reverse. A simple comparison of Hanscom’s piece and the Times’ editorial immediately shows you how level the playing field has already become. Which is more interesting and which tells you more?

Speaking personally, as one of the, alas, older bloggers, I previously spent decades working for mainstream media from Universal Studios to The New York Times. I find my new blogging life just as interesting and in many ways more challenging. We are still at the beginning of changing times (I suppose we always are), so it is difficult to know where all this will go. The competition for eyeballs is ferocious – and only some of them (as in other media) will go to quality. It is, as William Congreve so aptly put it back when the theater meant something (1675) – The Way of the World.