Andrew Keen is visiting The Netherlands to speak at Marketing3 today and last night I was invited to meet him for a drink. As you might know Andrew Keen is the self proclaimed ‘Antichrist of Silicon Valley’ and the author of the bestselling book “The cult of the amateur“. He is hated by many tech lovers and visionaries and I was slightly nervous at the prospect of meeting him as a Next Web fan.
The first thing you notice when you meet Andrew Keen is that he is a lot shorter than you think. Okay, I’m Dutch and we are the tallest people in the world but even for American standards Keen seems, well, vertically challenged. The second thing you notice is that he is actually a flexible and reasonable guy (something he keeps repeating throughout the evening) with great stories and a good sense of humor.
Most of all, Keen is an entertainer. He likes to stir up a good discussion and not because he wants to make enemies (although he has many and keeps mentioning them “Oh, you know who also really hates me! Lawrence Lessig! And did I mention Tim O’Reilly? He HATES me too!”) but simply because he thinks that everything gets better with competition. In typical Andrew Keen fashion, since there seemed to be no discussion on Web2.0 and only people in favor – he decided to become, well, the Antichrist of Web2.0.
I asked him about his plans for the future he smiled and said “What is even more sacred than Web2.0? Democracy! I am going to write a book about that”.
I cringed in my seat. The audacity! Is nothing sacred? Nope, not for Andrew Keen. He makes a living on questioning what nobody wants to question.
The Internal Entrepreneur
At the end of the conversation Keen managed to surprise me again. We were talking about technology in general and suddenly he started talking about his dreams for his own start-up:
“You know, I have nothing against technology, or the web, in general. I tell people to use all the Web2.0 tools all the time. They are great! In fact, my dream is to start my own Web2.0 start-up. Something with good content delivery.
Really! If you would take a dedicated team of professionals I’m sure it would be possible to take on CNN. Using Web2.0 tools and a team of smart people it is certainly possible.
That is my dream.”
A Guy With A Dream
Andrew Keen presents himself as the Antichrist of Web2.0 but underneath that wrapper he is actually just an idealist who thinks that throwing a monkey wrench into the machinery is a necessary act to make the machinery better. Sometimes to get to the truth you need to play good cop/bad cop. Andrew Keen plays bad cop and can be very convincing.
Just remember that besides bad cop, antichrist, author and monkey wrench slinger he is also just a guy with a dream.