What is more distasteful than a citizen media utopian? It's a citizen media utopian who is also an Arsenal fan (for American readers: Arsenal is a minor soccer team based in a particularly undistinguished part of North London).
That's what Charles Leadbeater, Britain's leading Web 2.0 guru and a former adviser on all things digital to Tony Blair, seems to be. Leadbeater is a big fan of both Arsenal football club and of amateur Internet content -- especially when it is "created" by Arsenal fans. Here's Leadbeater's response to Larry Sanger' recent Edge essay "Who Says We Know: On the New Politics of Knowledge":
Let me give you a very trivial example. Every morning I scavenge for news about Arsenal football club (soccer to American readers) which has its home round the corner from mine in north London. Ten years ago my sources were confined to the two newspapers I got delivered at home which carried about one report on Arsenal every two days, written by an "expert" football reporter. When the web came along the official Arsenal.com site started to provide lots of useful additional information about upcoming fixtures accompanied by bland match reports and player interviews.
Then five years ago a slightly crazed, sometime drunk, often witty and very passionate Dublin based Arsenal fan started Arseblog which each day provides a daily round up of the news in all the newspapers, on and offline editions, including papers in France and Spain where many Arsenal players come from, as well as linking to all the other—fifteen plus—decent blogs about Arsenal.
In Sanger's nightmare scenario Arseblog would became a monopoly, displacing all other sources of news and comment about the club. That would clearly not be ideal. Sometimes the blogger in chief goes awol. Arseblog works only by drawing on and aggregating other sources from the expert to the amateur.
But Arseblog is not going to become a monopoly provider of news about Arsenal. Instead what we have is a much richer information ecology, in which there is a good deal of collaboration—Arseblog feeds on experts in the newspapers but also directs readers to them—as well as competition.
I strongly disagree with Mr Leadbeater. Arseblog (with its erudite subtitle: "It's fuckin' excellent") doesn't contribute to "a rich information ecology" as a monopoly or otherwise. It's just a dark place on the Internet where Arsenal fans go to write their views about Arsenal football club -- a subject which is of no interest to the civilized world. There's nothing rich or informational about this user generated content. Like Arsenal football club and its supporters, Arseblog is fuckin' awful.
In contrast, American readers with an interest in reasonable quality user generated content by English football fans would be advised to look at My Eyes Have Seen The Glory.