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Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations Paperback – February 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 accoutrements are revolutionizing the social order, a development that's cause for more excitement than alarm, argues interactive telecommunications professor Shirky. He contextualizes the digital networking age with philosophical, sociological, economic and statistical theories and points to its major successes and failures. Grassroots activism stands among the winners—Belarus's flash mobs, for example, blog their way to unprecedented antiauthoritarian demonstrations. Likewise, user/contributor-managed Wikipedia raises the bar for production efficiency by throwing traditional corporate hierarchy out the window. Print journalism falters as publishing methods are transformed through the Web. Shirky is at his best deconstructing Web failures like Wikitorial, the Los Angeles Times's attempt to facilitate group op-ed writing. Readers will appreciate the Gladwellesque lucidity of his assessments on what makes or breaks group efforts online: Every story in this book relies on the successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users. The sum of Shirky's incisive exploration, like the Web itself, is greater than its parts. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"A fascinating survey of the digital age . . . An eye-opening paean to possibility." -The Boston Globe
"Drawing from anthropology, economic theory and keen observation, [Shirky] makes a strong case that new communication tools are making once-impossible forms of group action possible . . . [an] extraordinarily perceptive new book." -Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Mr. Shirky writes cleanly and convincingly about the intersection of technological innovation and social change." -New York Observer
"Clay has long been one of my favorite thinkers on all things Internet - not only is he smart and articulate, but he's one of those people who is able to crystallize the half-formed ideas that I've been trying to piece together into glittering, brilliant insights that make me think, yes, of course, that's how it all works." -Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing and author of Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present.
"Clear thinking and good writing about big changes." -Stewart Brand
"Clay Shirky may be the finest thinker we have on the Internet revolution, but Here Comes Everybody is more than just a technology book; it's an absorbing guide to the future of society itself. Anyone interested in the vitality and influence of groups of human beings -from knitting circles, to political movements, to multinational corporations-needs to read this book." -Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good for You and Emergence
"How do trends emerge and opinions form? The answer used to be something vague about word of mouth, but now it's a highly measurable science, and nobody understands it better than Clay Shirky. In this delightfully readable book, practically every page has an insight that will change the way you think about the new era of social media. Highly recommended." -Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail
"In story after story, Clay masterfully makes the connections as to why business, society and our lives continue to be transformed by a world of net- enabled social tools. His pattern-matching skills are second to none." -Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect
"Clay has long been one of my favorite thinkers on all things Internet-- not only is he smart and articulate, but he's one of those people who is able to crystallize the half-formed ideas that I've been trying to piece together into glittering, brilliant insights that make me think, yes, of course, that's how it all works." -Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing and author of Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present.
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Top Customer Reviews
Certainly the book reads well, and for someone like me who reads a great deal, I found myself recognizing thoughts explored by others, but also impressed by the synthesis and the clarity.
A few of my fly-leaf notes:
+ New technologies enable new kinds of groups to form.
+ "Message" is key, what Eric Raymond calls "plausible promise."
+ Can now harness "free and ready participation in a large distributed group with a variety of skills."
+ Cost-benefit of large "unsupervised" endeavors is off the charts.
+ From sharing to cooperation to collective action
+ Collective action requires shared vision
+ Literacy led to mass amatuerism, and I have note to myself, the cell phone can lead to mass on demand education "one cell call at a time"
+ Transactions costs dramatically lowered.
+ Revolution happens when it cannot be contained by status quo institutions
+ Good account of Wikipedia
+ Light discussion of social capital, Yochai Bnekler does it much better
+ Value of mass diversity
+ Implications of Linux for capitalism
+ Excellent account of how Perl beat out C++
Bottom line in this book: "Open Source teaches us that the communal can be at least as durable as the commercial.
Other books I recommend:
Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World
Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology
The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier
Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised : Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace
There is of course also a broad literature on complexity, collapse, resilience, diversity, integral consciousness and so on.
1. Sharing with others, using del.icio.us, Flickr, Slideshare and other social tools. After September 11th, a professor of Middle Eastern history starts writing a blog that became a resource for reporters covering the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.
2. Collaboration, perhaps using Linux or Wikipedia. Kite makers find each other online and collaborate on the most radical improvement in kite design in decades. So are architects.
3. Collective action, where groups form to pursue a larger purpose and use social tools, ranging from google or Yahoo! groups to free online social networks such as Ning to share news and tips, recruit others, support each other and remain unified.
Writes Shirky, "... one of the things I most hope readers get out of it, is an excitement about how much experimentation is still possible, and how many new uses of our social tools are waiting to be invented." Similarly the Internet changed how outraged Catholics could rally for changes when pedophile priests went on trial. The organizing clout of the Internet did not come in time for one of my heroes, Gary Webb.
In a controversial move, Shirky describes why he thinks MoveOn has not succeeded in three ways that Obama has, using social media, beginning with his "wide pockets versus deep pockets" approach to securing many little donations rather than a few big donations. Another example, fighting against the airline industry's resistence setting standards for passengers stuck on the tarmac, some angry passengers recruited, "tens of thousands of people in a few weeks" to join the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights.
Each example in his book includes three vital elements: a credible and clear promise, use of the right social media tool(s) and an attractive bargain for and with potential participants.
Writing in sharp contrast to Shirky's view of social media as a collective experience for "us", Lee Siegel, in Against the Machine, believes the Internet mainly serves "me" and often brings out the banal in "amateurs". He calls it, "the first social environment to serve the needs of the isolated, elevated, asocial individual."
Clay Shirky is a leading thinker on social technologies, and this book is his introduction to why social technologies like Wikipedia work. Each chapter has a well-chosen story to illustrate the technologies he's discussing, from the Stolen Sidekick page to Flickr's coverage of Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, and how they are being used, including Egyptian activists using Twitter to keep each other updated of their activities and confrontations with authority, or Belarussian protestors using LiveJournal to organize flash mobs.
Shirky's book is a terrific introduction to social technology, with an overview of both the social and the technological and how they are feeding on each other to form new combinations. I highly recommend it to anybody who has any interest in how new tools are giving us more power by multiplying the number of ways in which we can interact with each other.