The Cult of the Amateur?

Back in 2008, Andrew Keen published 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. At the start of this lesson, you were asked to read an excerpt of this book Cult of the Amateur and if you haven’t, please do so now before continuing.

Keen’s work advanced the very thesis expressed by the title, and is a very controversial one considering the proliferation of “Web 2.0” tools. The notion of user-generated media has grown considerably since then and shows no signs of stopping. Entire jobs are dedicated to using social media, either in marketing, promotions, or just educational contexts. Facebook, Twitter, and related sites have members that extend across the spectrum of ages and cultures. “SmartPhone” technology has fallen in price making it easier for people to carry their social media with them at all times, whether they’re “checking in” with Four Square or blogging for homework.

While Keen is critical about the future of self-published works, later critics have praised these technologies as vital across different contexts. Here are a few:
•Politics: Saving Democracy With Web 2.0
•Culture: Lawrence Lessig Final Free Culture Video | Open Source Cinema – An Open Source Documentary Film about Copyright
•CNN: Twitter has Place in Classroom

Yet, Keen’s view raises a key concept… since people can freely publish on the Web, they should follow some general guidelines and considerations.
1.Comply with Digital Ethics: As the “Digital Ethics” reading clarifies, digital ethics involves:
◦Paying attention to copyright. If you use an image, cite any text, or integrate any other information that is not yours, it should be attributed accordingly. This is not just good digital citizenship, it’s required under MLA style. Don’t let “fair use” be an excuse for plagiarism!
◦Avoiding misinformation. As a researcher, you are expected to use rational judgment in presenting your data as discussed in the readings. Knowingly publishing any information that was falsified is not only unethical for the reasons discussed in the class, but it also impacts your own ethos and how an audience will view your work.
◦Netiquette. While definitions of netiquette vary, the key takeaway is to remember to be courteous. You would not like it if someone posted negative comments on your project just for the sake of being cruel (what is typically called “trolling”), and in regards to netiquette, the golden rule often applies… treat others the way you want to be treated. You can read much more on netiquette here: Netiquette Home Page.
2.Remember that you are representing yourself!
◦This can’t be stressed enough… a poorly designed piece of information, an egregious misspelling, or an uncited source can impact your ethos. When you share on the Internet, remember to come across as a professional.
3.Remember your audience!
◦No one wants to read a Web page that is completely full of text. The expectations of someone watching a YouTube video will be different than those of someone reading a brochure. Keep the audience and their needs in mind and revise your work accordingly.

These tips are not meant to frighten anyone out of publishing on the Web. Quite the contrary! The ability to share using the Internet is a great opportunity, but it is always important to be careful. If you rolled your eyes while reading Keen, or perhaps agreed with him because poorly designed information is a pet peeve of yours, you can be the exception with this final project. Produce something you’re proud of… the world is waiting to see it!

Assessing Your Learning

Graded Assignments

Review the lesson several times before proceeding to the assessments below.

Important information: Before you begin your assignments, please review and follow the procedures below in the completion of ALL writing assignments.

Lesson 14 Assignment

Final Project

Once your final project is done, make sure it meets the Final Project Requirements PDF. Also, review any feedback provided on the checklist you submitted for Lesson 13.
1.When uploading your assignment, include a Word document, formatted in MLA style that includes relevant links to your work (or the work itself in PDF format if you are completing a brochure or paper-based project).
2.If you used sources in your presentation, make sure to also include a Works Cited with your submission. Check out the “Citation Help” page in the ENG101&102 Research Guide to review correctly formatted sample citations and to learn about tools that will generate citations for you!
3.Your project is worth 100 points and will be scored based on the Final Project Rubric PDF.

Submission Instructions

To submit the assignment, you will attach your file within the assignment submission window at the following link: Final Project.

If you need help attaching your file to the submission window, refer to Attaching Files to Assignments in RioLearn PDF.

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