Ken Myers, editor of the brilliant Mars Hill Audio Journal (on whose board I serve, I should add), essentially offers something of an implicit critique of phenomena like FPR, not to mention individual blogs and the like, here. He makes a good point:
When everyone can self-publish by putting up a few bucks for a website, they don’t have to face the humiliation of rejection slips. And when a critical mass of people spend more time reading self-published (and often mediocre) writing, and self-produced videos, less time is spent in the company of credentialed creativity. And that translates into declining revenue for established voices and their intermediaries.
On the other hand, DIY movements can also be ways of undermining the very mediocrity Ken detests, in that mediocrity is exactly what the cultural institutions of mass society are so good at providing. I’m in favor of cultural authority, but what do you do when most cultural authorities are corrupt? At any rate, I think that Ken’s argument is very much worth thinking about, especially if, like many of the contributors to this site, you are ambivalent about the kinds of unmediated communication that the Web, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest are making so ubiquitous.
In any case, I second his conclusion:
Twenty or so years ago, cultural conservatives were up in arms about higher education’s demotion of the canon of great literature. They attributed this abandonment to the anti-Western bias of campus leftists. But surely the ecosystem of ideas and sentiments encouraged by uncritical use of the Web, energized by its defining myth of the democratization of knowledge and culture, poses a much greater threat than all those tenured radicals.