Joining The Cult of the Amateur

Nicholas Carr has written a quite interesting article on Web 2.0 and what he believes to be the Cult of the Amateur. Basically, he means that because stuff is free, like in Wikipedia or OpenSource (his words, not mine), they will always be used and read more often than the professional stuff on the expense of quality. He sees this as an problem of imorality and somehow (as he is a jounralist) I think he fears the downfall of the media.
Well, why not. I don’t see the whole Web 2.0 hype as a Cult of the Amateur and Free Software is a quite good example for that. What he did was picking two bad examples out of Wikipedia to show that this amateurs are not able to do a good job on writing. I think you could do the same for Free Software, there is so much crap out there. And state of the art, award winning implementations. Software that feed several companies, Software that has excellent quality, Software that is free of charge and that you can copy freely. Linux, Apache, MySQL, OpenBSD, Sendmail … you name it. The Internet runs on Free Software. And it was done by, well professional amateurs. People writing software for a living and in their spare time. I guess when he would have had a better look at Wikipedia he would have found some articles that are of excellent quality, because some journalist or student really had some time to do an excellent job.
The thing is, this isn’t about amateurs vs. professional – because there will be always enough people out there to do an excellent professional job. Just because they are not being paid for what they are doing does not make them amateurs.
This is about people against big companies. In the late ninties they were all running around and telling everybody how information is the new good to purchase, spread, get rich on. Some did, but most of them got pretty broke pretty fast. The point is, that at the moment the Internet and the people connected to it take something back that was long in the hand of really big companies like the media, software companies or content providers. We make our content ourself. It might not be of the best quality, but in quantity we rule. I don’t want a TV-Shopping guy tell me how nice a new product is, I want to have a look at a couple of people opinions and how they like something, that’s what Blogs are for. I don’t want to go to a bockshelf to read a 10 year old article about somebody, I wan’t state of the art information, even if it is not a good read, and I want it for free. And I don’t want to buy DRM encrippled songs from somebody who has enough money anyway. We are taking back control, we just take the money out of the information and we take the money from companies that just didn’t listen and try to tell us that something that you can copy a million times without a real cost, digital data, is still something that has a value.
Reading articles like that shows me that there ist still a long road to go, but were getting closer every day. I like being amoral 🙂