In Slate, Garth Risk Hallberg asks, “Who Is Grady Harp?”
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I had imagined Amazon’s customer reviews as a refuge from the machinations of the publishing industry: “an intelligent and articulate conversation … conducted by a group of disinterested, disembodied spirits,” as James Marcus, a former editor at the company, wrote in his memoir, Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut. Indeed, with customers unseating salaried employees like Marcus as the company’s leading content producers, Amazon had been hailed as a harbinger of “Web 2.0″ – an ideal realm where user-generated consensus trumps the bankrupt pieties of experts. As I explored the murky understory of Amazon’s reviewer rankings, however, I came to see the real Web 2.0 as a tangle of hidden agendas – one in which the disinterested amateur may be an endangered species.
And, somewhere, Grady Harp asks, “Who is Garth Risk Hallberg? What’s that you say? I reviewed his book?”
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