Wednesday, August 29

Blogger's Choice Awards (The Cult of the Amateur?)

New York Times (NYT) Book Review: The Cult of the Amateur (Amazon)

"...Here you'll see which blogs are currently making an impact in the blogosphere. The blogs you see here are all nominated and voted on by users like yourself!"

I discovered by accident(al learning) the 'Blogger's Choice Awards' (site) yesterday, when I was checking out the latest juicy stuff on the Infinite Thinking Machine (ITM) blog. I noticed that ITM had been nominated for 'Best Educational Blog". WOW! That is a great achievement! But, then I realized to my great joy, I could also register and nominate myself and get that cool Brag(ging) Badge on my site and look a bit impressive, too (Check-it-out on the right side of this blog. But please do not vote for me! I suppose I don't need to remind you :) ). To add more joy to my life, I can even vote for myself, which I of course did (Our ego is great!). This enabled my blog to jump ahead of all those nominated that forgot to vote for themselves. I still got a long way to reach the top, but at least I got one vote. It is amazing how much fun we can have promoting ourselves :)

The Juicy Part
I suppose the real joy of this site (for me), is that we can discover some of the great blogs in the different categories, and get connected to new people (or Gurus), ideas and resources. I especially find the Best Educational Blog category very interesting. Actually, this 'Blogger's Choice Awards' site is like an interactive community rated learning repository. You can actually find some really Juicy stuff there (after filtering out some of the junk or poor stuff)!

The Cult of the Amateur
But then, I came across this book called the "The Cult of the Amateur" by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Keen, and suddenly I woke up to another dimension of Web 2.0, which I had thought about, but not to that level. Here are some interesting quotes from his reflections to NYT (Source):
  • “What the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment.”
  • “...when ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule.”
  • history has proven that the crowd is not often very wise
  • "...the idea of objectivity is becoming increasingly passé in the relativistic realm of the Web, where bloggers cherry-pick information and promote speculation and spin as fact. Whereas historians and journalists traditionally strived to deliver the best available truth possible, many bloggers revel in their own subjectivity..."
  • "...democratized Web’s penchant for mash-ups, remixes and cut-and-paste jobs threaten not just copyright laws but also the very ideas of authorship and intellectual property."
  • "...What you may not realize is that what is free is actually costing us a fortune...
  • The new winners — Google, YouTube, MySpace, Craigslist, and the hundreds of start-ups hungry for a piece of the Web 2.0 pie — are unlikely to fill the shoes of the industries they are helping to undermine, in terms of products produced, jobs created, revenue generated or benefits conferred. By stealing away our eyeballs, the blogs and wikis are decimating the publishing, music and news-gathering industries that created the original content those Web sites ‘aggregate.’ Our culture is essentially cannibalizing its young, destroying the very sources of the content they crave.”

Although, I am not sure if I agree with all the extracted quotes above, I do believe that Andrew Keen is making some very important points that we certainly need to reflect more in the new world of Web 2.0 (or soon 3.0. Is it already here? What does Web 2.0 really mean anyway, besides the democratization of publishing and access to online read/write tools?).

Blogger's Choice Awards + The Cult of the Amateur = Ignorance + Bad Taste
Now, what has 'The Cult of the Amateur' to do with the 'Blogger's Choice Awards'? Andrew Keen says, “...history has proven that the crowd is not often very wise.", and looking at the current voting results for the 'Best Educational Blog' I have to subjectively agree here (hopefully the crowd will get a bit wiser before the closing date.) How come Stephen Downes' sensational blog (23 votes) and Infinite Thinking Machine (ITM) blog (21 votes) have currently so few votes compared to the leaders? Also, there should be a bit more details to the evaluation criteria than simply "Best Educational Blog", like best educational blog for Schools, Colleges, University, Corporate Learning, Informal Learning, Life-Long Learning, etc. In addition, there should also be a few sub-categories (for 'Best Educational Blog') such as for best design, originality, creativity, relevance, content, fun, etc. Let's see what they will come up with next year.

What Really Matters!
Yeah, of course it is nice to be voted the best educational blog (popularity), but to me it cannot be compared to getting respect, recognition and appreciation from your peers or gurus, who can really differentiate the 'Wannabe' from the 'Real Deal'. For example, when a 'Learning Guru' like Joseph Hart recommends you or Stephen Downes quotes you (or comments your blog) you know you are doing something right. Yes, it feels good :)

Finally, I might have lost the battle for the best educational blog this year, but with the assistance of my super-ego and coaching from 'Yoda' I will have another go at it next year. Mark my words :)

The Ego strikes back! Please vote for me now! I need your support to be recognized as an amateur (I mean professional) :)

My site was nominated for Best Education Blog!


Mary said...

I enjoyed reading this post
Thanks for sharing. And, as for me, this quote "the crowd is not often very wise" is completely true. But we (bloggers) give rise such situations. Not only our readers and fans vote for us. But also other bloggers vote only because we ask them - Hey guys, please, vote for me and I'll vote for you! I need your support.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for your feedback. Highly appreciated!

Yeah, we bloggers sometimes love ourselves too much :)

Warm Regards,