Andrew Keen has gone insane. The author, who has railed against the Internet for destroying our culture, now says we all must become self-promoting, Facebook-friending, constantly Twittering monkeys like unemployed videoblogger Robert Scoble.
"We are all Scoble now," Keen writes. Who? Scoble, a tech blogger who gained a measure of microcelebrity when Microsoft hired him a few years ago, makes videos so boring that Fast Company, his most recent employer, fired him. His lackluster videojournalism was not why anyone paid attention to him, of course; they're more attracted by the spectacle of his incessant use of microblogging service Twitter, where he has 67,000 "followers."
Keen argues that we must all follow Scoble's example and cultivate meaningless relationships that allow us to promote our work — that, indeed, with the collapse of Wall Street and Detroit, self-promotion is the only industry America has left. It's a depressingly accurate thought: A nation of Scobles, never producing anything but distracting people from that emptiness at our core by constantly talking.
He's certainly trying his best himself, assiduously courting the Twitterati to promote his next book, and ridiculing authors who do not engage in self-promotion, like Jonathan Littel, the writer of Holocaust epic The Kindly Ones:
For writers, the great publishing transformation over the next few years has nothing to do with the Kindle 2 or anything other supposedly miraculous technological device. No, the real revolution will be in the way we writers can take advantage of all this new digital technology — blogs, Twitter, interactive television, Internet radio etc etc — to better promote ourselves and our work. All writers — from $1,000,000 lottery-winners like Littel to the tens of thousands of professional writers like myself living off much smaller advances — need to think of self-promotion, both in physical and digital form, as intrinsic to our value.
A shy writer in the 21st century is a starving writer. Diffidence is death. Littel should set a better example. Come to America, Jonathan, and tell us more about your epic Nazi book. It's actually surprisingly nice here.
Ah yes, that's what we need: 140-character tweets about the Holocaust.