The necessity of an agent.

I read an interesting article this morning about the necessity of an agent. It was written by Dean Wesley Smith on the . He more or less laid out a philosophy that agents are really irrelevant in the modern age of publishing. He went on to relate that he and his colleagues, all of whom have been writing for a long time have no idea where the publishing industry is headed. I think its actually kind of an interesting time myself. I know that I have mentioned it before, I always thought that getting an agent was THE thing to do. I have been convinced over and over that it is not necessarily true. I have read numerous times that first time authors don't stand much of a chance of representation anyhow. My question is why bother then?