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Culture

Andrew Keen, the Web's Darth Vader?

Author of upcoming book The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture and assaulting our Economy, Keen is emerging as the one of the chief critics of new media.

LOS ANGELES--Web 2.0 has no clothes, according to Andrew Keen.

The author of the upcoming book, The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture and assaulting our Economy, Keen is emerging as the one of the chief critics of new media.

Andrew Keen ZDNet

Speaking on a panel at the OnHollywood conference here on Thursday, Keen stirred passions by attacking MySpace, YouTube, citizen journalism, the wisdom of crowds and the opinions of teenagers.

"MySpace is creating cultural narcissism in our young," Keen told the audience. "Teenage kids don't have much to say."

The founder of Audiocafe.com in 1995, Keen describes himself as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. In his book, due to be released on June 5, Keen said he writes as "as an insider about a culture that I think has gone wrong."

Keen was challenged by many watching via a live Webcast who were allowed to post comments on a screen displayed near the panel. The general response was that Keen was elitist, fearful of change and an enemy of technology.

The criticism of Keen was thrown into high gear after he argued that the quality of information is eroding thanks to untrained people, "sitting at home in their underpants" practicing amateur journalism.

He predicted that The New York Times and "legitimate journalism" would perish in coming years if the masses continue to choose amateurs over professionals.

"These microcommunities are echo chambers," Keen told the audience. "You have people on the left and the right forming their own communities and the result of all this is less serious discussion. Everyone is only talking to people like themselves."

Keen saved much of his disdain for fellow panel member Justin Kan, founder of JustinTV. Kan has attracted quite a bit of attention for broadcasting his life to the Internet via a Webcam he wears on his head.

"If things continue the way they are, we'll have a nation of Justins," Keen said. "We'll have 250 million people broadcasting themselves and its absurd. When you have 250 million people broadcasting themselves...how much more ludicrous can that be?"

Keen is now a blogger for ZDNet,which is owned by CNET Networks, the publisher of News.com.