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Oct 24, 2005



I find Langberg's comment about "the hegemony of the amateur" highly ironic considering that it is the other way around. We are, in fact, being freed from the hegemony of "the professional" - a relatively recent development in which professional groups were established (eg. medical doctors) in an attempt to monopolize their control over a specific practice. Being a professional is more about supporting the existence of a certifying body than supporting any higher standard.

As Leadbeater and Miller observe in their paper The Pro-Am Revolution ( ) :

The 20th century witnessed the rise of professionals in medicine, science, education, and politics. In one field after another, amateurs and their ramshackle organisations were driven out by people who knew what they were doing and had certificates to prove it.

The Pro-Am Revolution argues this historic shift is reversing. We're witnessing the flowering of Pro-Am, bottom-up self-organisation and the crude, all or nothing, categories of professional or amateur will need to be rethought.

Max Leibman

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Great post! I'm reading OPEN LOOPS right now, and I'm still in the passages on the birth of Apple, so the Valley comparison is apt for my intellectual diet right now.

This elitist notion that if an experienced professional isn't vetting all new talent before letting them in is just insulting. The increasingly routine churning of industry rankings (and, for that matter, whole industries) might be disheartening if you've reached the top, but it's the way progress is made. If the pros want to keep their job, they have to improve offerings to the point where they're worth what's being charged, or find a way to drop prices to what the wares are worth in the market.

I think what they're really afraid of is not that amateurs will take over; ultimately, I think the best few voices (or business models) will float to the top and be "the new professionals," while the amatuers stay more or less where they are now.

What they're afraid of is that they have no say in how, or to whom, that torch is passed, and it isn't likely to be them and theirs. What they fear isn't a world without professionals, but a world where they have to compete, on equal terms, against ANYBODY with talent who feels like trying out, and they and their cronies have no say in how the results are judged.


Oh, Evelyn...what a stunning post! Such a rich progression of thought-starters and complementary quotations.

And mostly, such a perfect, beautiful argument for passion in everything. Without it, really—what's the point?



I came here via the

I liked your post but it took me very long time to go through it, it is a little tiring for me to go through such long posts :)

Carr's argument is fundamentally flawed.
A really cool strategy guy whose blog I follow points out the stupidity of carr's argument, I am sure you would like it.


Melanie Swan

How funny, I had just 2 minutes before reading your post hung up with the snooty Delaware members-only club declining me as an attendee to their Tipping Point book club discussion tomorrow. I have always thought the inclusionary culture of the west coast to be a much more useful societal model.

A great rich post, I appreciate the complex themes. I agree that amateurs can become artistes, and the way is likely through discipline. However, sometimes passion for a field can be lost with sustained practice; turn your hobby into a job and you may not like it any more. Sustaining passion while practicing is a piece of the puzzle to me as well.

Blogging has given polymath dabblers a voice, and there is probably a role for this talent even if it doesn't through discipline lead to Artistes. Most of what I consider talent is outside of Barry Diller's definition, which of course is precisely the point of democratic web and life 2.0.

Amy Gahran

Excellent article, Evelyn. It struck a chord with me on a theme that keeps popping up in my work: the cult of officialdom.

Here's the article I wrote in response to your article: "Amateurs Deserve Respect: Evelyn Rodriguez nails it."

Good work,

- Amy Gahran
Editor, Contentious

Allan Jenkins

Lovely post, Evelyn, as always.

Sacha Chua

Awesome post! Ten years at three hours a day... I can do three hours a day. I can do more than three hours a day. I'm going to learn how to write and speak. I'm going to make things happen! =)


rock on, evelyn. i just found your blog today and you're now at the top of my feed list. keep on keeping on!

The Space Above the Couch

Very inspiring. as long as you have it in your heart and you have the drive the rest will follow in time. I've always believed that.

followed Sacha's article on here...

Some people draw the line between developing artists and professionals. If there's a choice I'd rather see myself as developing for the next fifty years. There is always more to learn and ways to grow, and we all have to start somewhere.

Wasn't Eintein a clerk in a patent office when he made his greatest discoveries? Oftentimes it seems to be "outsiders", those on the edges of the system that are the ones to make the greastest contributions and see outside the box.



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