Andrew Keen, Don Tapscott on the effects of today's online social revolution
To most of us, social media seems commonplace.
It is rare to find someone today who is not a member of a social network. Yet, what do we really know about the effects of this social revolution?
On Sept. 6, the Rotman School of Management will host a debate, the Effects of Today's Online Social Revolution, that promises to shed some light on the influences of social media.
The evening will feature the opposing views of Andrew Keen, an Internet expert, writer and CNN columnist; and Don Tapscott, business strategy specialist and Adjunct Professor at Rotman School of Management.
“I’m here to warn you about a future we’re falling into … a future that is troubling and scary” said Keen at a 2011 TedxTalks event in Hungary. “We are on the verge of a new world, a place where literally we are living online – a place where the digital is becoming real.”
In his new book Digital Vertigo, Keen cautions about attempting to duplicate our identities online. Doing so jeopardizes both our privacy and liberty in what he terms the “cult of the social”.
“You’re all on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, because you want to show yourself off to the world,” says Keen who believes we are all becoming data. “We are going onto this network to promote ourselves and build our identities.”
And although social networks can be quite attractive in the technological age, they can also be harmful, he says. “The social is a cult which needs to be controlled if we are to build a coherent and civil digital world in the 21st century,” says Keen.
Tapscott, who disagrees with Keen's theories, is more optimistic about the future in an increasingly digital world. In his book Macrowikinomics, Tapscott argues that the current financial crisis represents a turning point in human history.
“The industrial age and many of its institutions are coming to the end of their life cycle,” says Tapscott. “They can no longer move humanity forward and we need to rebuild around the Internet.”
The Internet is unlike any other communications technology, he says. The printing press, radio and television are all centralized and controllable mediums which carry the message of its owners while the audience passively absorbs information.
“The Internet is the antithesis of all that, it’s one-to-one and many-to-many,” says Tapscott. "It’s not centralized, it’s highly distributed. It’s not controllable and the recipients are not passive, they’re active.”
Tapscott noted that although he and Keen have spoken on the subject many times in the past this will be their first moderated, public debate.
“It’ll be a fun debate,” he added. “I intend to make it lively.”