I recently acquired The backroom boys as I had read a review of this book back in 2003. The book deals with the british boffins and 6 different invention after the war, that changed society. the chapter I was interested in the story of the BBC game elite, that was created in 1984. In the book it discusses the beginning of the UK computers and computer industry. One line struck some resonance, which was the following:-
It was going to be a future of shrink-wrapped software products far too complex to be written at home by amateurs : a world of mass marketing, not mass participation.
This reminded me of the article in the wall street journal that other bloggers had been talking about (1,2). This was a discussion between Andrew Keen, writer of The Cult of the Amateur, and David Weinberger, author of Everything is Miscellaneous. Having read some of Keen's book, he don't really appreciate the amatuer. When he says of blogger's :-
The simple ownership of a computer and an internet connection doesn't transform one into a kitchen makes one into a serious cook.
Both instances underline the role of the amateur in society. From the 1980's to today, amateurs help assist and history always shows this. Keen seems to refuse any idea of people needing non-experts to make scientific discoveries. People like Luke Howard, who gave clouds there names. Its a shame Keen seems to quick in his condemnation of the web 2.0 world.
Anyhow, I would highly recommend The backroom boys.