For readers of Ars Technica, technologies like online forums, blogs, mailing lists, Meetup, and Wikipedia are old hat. But Shirky contends that the really big impacts are still to come, as these technologies spread to our less geeky relatives, friends, and neighbors. As the Internet radically reduces the costs of collective action for everyone, it will transform the relationship between ordinary individuals and the large, hierarchical institutions that were a dominant force in 20th-century societies. Newspapers and magazines, book and music publishers, and Hollywood studios are all feeling squeezed as the printing and distribution services they provide become less and less valuable.
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Next When Clay Shirky was a young boy he thought that the main technologies for the 21st century would be the atomic energy and the spaceships to travel throughout the milky way. Fast forward to when he is a grown up in the late 20th century, he discovers that the main technologies are the transistors and the abortion pill. The first has allowed the advent of many electronic devices, the second has entitled women to control birth. Both are used at individual level companies and citizen respectively and are not controlled by the state.
As Shirky puts it : they changed the world because no one was in control of how the technology was used. These have allowed for groups to gather in the cheapest and easiest way ever, with spectacular results on the society as a whole.
This is what this great book is all about. Clay Shirky does a fantastic job connecting real life stories, sociologists researches, his own experience of social tools and patterns of usage to propose a global theory based around solid ideas, main ones being extracted hereafter … Social tools remove transaction Costs Ronald Coase in a paper The Nature of the firm introduces the concept of transaction costs as a reason why completely open market for labors could not happen back then.
This is the reason why firms exist : their aim is to make sure that the structure costs management etc … is lower than the potential gain of directing activities.
With the advent of social tools, for the first time in history these costs are becoming negligible. Emails, wiki, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones : they all make it ridiculously easy to share information and set up collective actions. Setting up groups and coordinating collective action is now becoming cheaper and easier than it has ever been.
Publish then filter In pre-socialnetworks times as you would say prehistoric , creating and publishing content was going through different filtering phases.
In 20th century edition organisations newspapers, publishers etc … you would have people deciding what gets published, have them modified before hand, etc … In Wikipedia times, people publish first and then the content is filtered i.
This is what make Wikipedia a more of a process than a product and b so successful. Prior to Wikipedia there was Nupedia , an online encyclopedia with 7 specialist that would filter every information to be published and a very complex process in many steps. This ended up with a dozen articles published in 18 months. Swapping the order and going to a publish then filter process allowed everybody to start and edit online article. It proved to be the key in making Wikipedia such an amazing collaborative project.
Network complexity is not predictable A group complexity grow much faster than its size : the increase in complexity is not linear but rather exponential. A group of 5 people has 10 connections, a group of 10 has 45 and a group of 15 has Philip Anderson in notes that aggregations of anything from atoms to people exhibits complex behaviors than cannot be predicted by observing the component parts. This is the reason we have used hierarchies in organisation. This also is the reason why a the value of social tools is incommensurable, i.
Be it the number of contributors to collaborative projects wiki article, Flickr photos dedicated to a specific event , ranking of blogs per number of users, number of downloads of open source projects, this Long Tail pattern always appear whenever illustrating the frequency of occurrences.
There always are a very few numbers with many occurrences example : user contribution to a wiki article and a very large number with very few. In Clay Shirky words, power law distribution tends to describe systems of interacting elements rather than just collections of variable elements.
In other words, system of interacting elements are inherently imbalanced. This is something to keep in mind whenever implementing social tools in a professional environment. Bridging Vs bonding social capital In , while studying Six Degrees of Separation sociologic pattern , in Duncan Watts and Steven Strogatz published a research around network patterns called Small World Network.
In this research, they describe efficient networks as a set of small densely connected groups, sparsely connected together. There are two ways to leverage social capital through networks : bonding social capital into densely connected groups bridging social capital between densely connected groups The main value of large networks come from these nodes i.
In a paper called The Social Origin of Good Ideas , Ronald Burt illustrates the relationship between social structure and good ideas within a corporate environment in the electronic industry. What he found out is that most good ideas come from people bridging structural holes across organisation silos : the highest number of good ideas where coming from people whose contacts were outside their own department. This echoes the theory of weak ties by Mark Granovetter : innovation is more likely to emerge when mixing different people.
Thanks Clay did it for me. Value is incommensurable : interpretation tells more about people The current argument is revolving around the question as to whether social networks bring added value. Clay Shirky believes they do as they increase the freedom of people to say and do what they like. However there will always be the discussion of pro and cons but the author say that their value is incommensurable, you just can not put any objective value to them.
Therefore the question is just irrelevant, apart that it reveals more about the speakers than the subject. In any case, they are there and there is no turning back.
Going back to nuclear energy, Shirky gives this brilliant metaphor. Atomic technology is like a car. A state can take the decision to go for it. It will put the required money and infrastructure around it to build the political energy around this technology. It is like a care, it can be controlled. Institution Vs Collaboration Social Networks provide new way to coordinate work and make collaboration more effective.
They make the transaction costs much lower. Therefore they are a threat to organisations. This is what Kevin Kelly calls the Shirky Principle : Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution. For more information, check out this amazing TED talks by Clay on the topic. Share this:.
Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
Synopsis[ edit ] In the book, Shirky recounts how social tools, such as blogging software like WordPress and Twitter , file sharing platforms like Flickr , and online collaboration platforms like Wikipedia, support group conversation and group action in a way that could previously only be achieved through institutions. Shirky argues that with the advent of online social tools, groups can form without previous restrictions of time and cost, in the same way the printing press increased individual expression, and the telephone increased communications between individuals. Shirky observes that: "[Every] institution lives in a kind of contradiction: it exists to take advantage of group effort, but some of its resources are drained away by directing that effort. Call this the institutional dilemma--because an institution expends resources to manage resources, there is a gap between what those institutions are capable of in theory and in practice, and the larger the institution, the greater those costs.
Wikipedia, Second Life, Craigslist, MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Flickr point the way to the lovely future where sharing caring groups of amateurs can connect in ways that will be experientially satisfying, community-boosting and, fingers crossed, democratically revivifying. So argues new media and social networking theorist Clay Shirky in his terrifically clever, though to my mind harrowing, book. He draws a parallel with scribes who laboriously handcopied the wisdom of the ages from fragile and decaying manuscripts. In , the Abbot of Sponheim wrote a tract called In Defence of Scribes urging that the scribal tradition be maintained because the very act of handcopying sacred texts brought spiritual enlightenment.
Here Comes Everybody
On the most basic level Here Comes Everybody is about the impact new digital media technologies have had on the organization, maintenance, and power of groups. Through his overview of the impact of digital media technologies on group organisation, Shirky discusses what made this conceptual and societal shift possible, and what the shift has changed. It may be tempting to simply ascribe the shift from institutional organisation to non-institutional organisation to the invention of social technologies, however as Shirky points out, this perspective overlooks two crucial factors that allowed the shift to occur: motivation and competition. Technologies that aid in group effort have been widely adopted due to an innate desire in humans to socialise and work together. Social tools do not generate the desire to organise, they simply provide an alternative platform upon which social desires can be attained.