Amateur revolution, indeed

By now most of you have heard of, and probably watched the video of, the cab driver* who made it on air at the BBC, in place of pundit Guy Kewney.

Guy was supposed to be on air speaking about the recent legal skirmishes between Apple Corps (The Beatles) and Apple Computer. As the story goes, a cab driver was pulled from the reception area, a mic slapped on him, and before he knew it, was on air being interviewed about this trial. Link to the video and story on the Daily Mail.

Here is a nice excerpt from the interview:
Karen Bowerman: Guy Kewney is editor of the technology website Newswireless.
Face of horror
KB: Hello, good morning to you.
Mr Goma: Good morning.
KB: With regards to the costs involved do you think now more people will be downloading online?
Mr Goma: Actually If you can walk everywhere you are going to see a lot of people downloading the internet and the website and everything they want. But I think eh It is much better for development and eh to inform people what they want and to get the easy way and so faster if they are looking for.

Yes, this is pretty hilarious on one level. Also is it quite absurd that this fellow ended up on air at all, given that Guy Kewney is pretty well known, and known to not be a black person with a French accent, but rather a bloke who is “…fair-haired, blue-eyed, prominent-nosed, and with the sort of pale skin that makes my dermatologist wince each time I complain about an itchy mole.” (quoted from Kewney’s website)

One of my first thoughts upon seeing this wasn’t that “hur hur hur, doesn’t the BBC look stupid, ha ha ha” but more – “hey, hats off to this poor chap who got stuck in this weird situation somehow, he at least tried to answer the questions!” A few bloggers and commenters around the Big Web congratulated the trapped interviewee for his intestinal fortitude and stabs at answers. It led me to wonder why pundits are always necessary in this situation. I’m not advocating bringing randoms onto the nightly news for comedic value, but in many cases, the opinion from the person on the street could actually be more insightful, and perhaps connect more with the person at home, than the highly specific, tightly constructed argument of the pundit.

I mean, questions about downloading music – wouldn’t it be more interesting to speak to a fifteen-year-old girl? Or someone who uses MySpace to promote their band? Someone, anyone, just not a pundit? Or maybe not someone, anyone, but – an intelligent amateur.

Paul Miller blogs about the “Pro-Am Revolution“, which in other words means the methods by which passionate amateurs are transforming the notions of professionalism, breaking all kinds of barriers and changing the way business is done, et cetera. Some of the “amateurs” that are profiled on the Pro-Am blog would be much more interesting interviewees than some pundits, surely.

This is not advocating that Guy Kewney (who I am sure is a really great guy) or any other pundit be put out of a job. Nothing sadder than a pundit in the unemployment line. But maybe a bit more of a balance, and a bit more public debate between “pro” and “amateur”, to keep the pundits on their toes.

* this is in dispute. The new story is that the chap was a business school graduate from Congo at the BBC for a job interview. Who knows, eh? …

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