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This article was published on April 16, 2009

Andrew Keen “Web 2.0 is dead, long live Twitter”

Andrew Keen “Web 2.0 is dead, long live Twitter”
Anne Helmond
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Anne Helmond

Anne is a New Media PhD Candidate and Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She is an analyst-designer in the newly found Digital Methods Anne is a New Media PhD Candidate and Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She is an analyst-designer in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne is also a freelance photographer for various Dutch organizations and media.

Moderator and conference organizer Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten asked Andrew Keen to address the following question in his keynote: Why do you love the web?

Note: written from the (I/we) point of Andrew Keen.
The Next Web

We are living in a critical moment in history. The post-industrial is clearly different from the industrial age. Technology is not interesting because we can use Google but because it is the midwife of change and the cause of consequence of that change. Our history is based on places like the Westergasfabriek where the conference is taking place. We are in a new age which is born by the internet.

Johannes Vermeer - Woman in Blue Reading a Letter
Johannes Vermeer - Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

Intimate media
Why I love this woman so much is because it’s so intimate that it manifests media at its best. The woman is reading, concentrating, it is an essential manifestation of media. She has emerged herself in the letter, that is the best kind of media. Twitter may be real-time but this Vermeer picture is both real-life and real-time media. It doesn’t have a business model but it nonetheless reflects the two core features of successful media: intimacy and trust. It is transparent and profoundly deep. When we look at it we are thinking: who is she, what is she reading?

Media has to change. Technology has resulted in power, not to the people but to the individuals. “WE ARE INDIVIDUALS” (Jeff Jarvis) is not so much an ideological statement as it is a core sociological and anthropological statement. The end of the industrial revolution is the shift of power from the institution to the individual. The new age is the age of the isolated and empowered individual. This is also the paradox because the individual is no longer able to concentrate and lives in a virtual reality. This is a new revolutionary, transformation age where we are the product. The fact that we are individuals is both the power and the paradox of the individual age.

The question then becomes how do we make sense of this, how do we transform meaning to make it work? The Dutch and people in Amsterdam are experts of transformations. The conference venue, the gasworks (Westergasfabriek) is reinvented as a meeting place. Amsterdam has industrialized late but it industrialized successful. It is no coincidence we are on the edge of reinvention.

So what has to happen to media in this new age? We need trust, we need to do away with anonymity and we need intimacy. Human beings are good at sending messages.Technology may have changed but the basic nature of communication hasn’t changed. My biggest concern is that the change was not going to be successful, that the old world was being replaced and swept away. Web 2.0 doesn’t work, it’s flawed, it doesn’t create revenue. If we want to recreate the newspapers, they’re fucked. We want reliable information but also intimacy in the new age of the individual. We need to reinvent a medium which gets beyond amateurs. Web 2.0 is finished. Even Techcrunch, the leading cheerleader of the Web 2.0 industry, has come to the conclusion that sites like YouTube don’t create revenue, it doesn’t work.

I am deeply encouraged by Twitter, so encouraged that I ask you to follow me @ajkeen – This is the future of individual media in the age of the individual. On the one hand it is inspiring to build your own broadcast network but it is also worrying because it duplicates inequality. The mass age was egalitarian, the individual age is unequal. The future is the age in which the individuals become brands. We need technology to enable these brands, people with talents, on the network. Twitter is the beginning enabling technology.

Web 2.0 is dead and Twitter is the symptom. It is the end of web2 .0, it represents a final nail in the coffin of business models built out of amateur content. We are entering a time with a new kind of professionalism and expertise. The new age of the individual which truly empowers smart talented people.

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