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Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations Paperback – February 24, 2009
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“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
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 24, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 344 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143114948
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143114949
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #394,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Here Comes Everybody is a remarkable book. Shirky states that the Internet is the biggest disruptive force since the telephone, television, transistor and the birth control pill combined. I've heard others say the printing press, and a blog I read recently compared the Internet to the invention of alphabet. In any event, it's a watershed event.
In this book's well-edited pages Shirky says, "Philosophers sometimes make a distinction between difference in degree (more of the same) and difference in kind (something new)." Social Media and the Internet represent something new. He adds, "When society is changing, we want to know whether the change is good or bad, but that kind of judgment becomes meaningless with transformations this large."
Central to this book is Coase's theorem. Coase won a Nobel Prize studying the economic factors of production inside of firms, a radical departure from traditional macroeconomic focus. Coase looked at transaction costs within and between firms (Contracting, Cooperating, Control) as a key unit of economic study. What he found is that three transaction activities have historically required significant cost and energy:
3. Collective Action
The Internet makes these activities much less expensive. Shirky sees the cost of sharing plummeting to zero, creating bargains for shoppers, and new challenges and opportunities for business. The Internet is also reducing the cost of categorization, digital reproduction and distribution. All of this is creating significant disruption for newspapers, advertisers, the post office, encyclopedias, the music industry, etc.
Shirky also sees disruption for attorneys, doctors, journalists, consultants and management professionals because of the readily available knowledge on the Internet. He says, "Professional self-conception and self-defense, so valuable in ordinary times, become a disadvantage in revolutionary ones, because professionals are always concerned with threats to the profession." And further, "Novices make mistakes from a lack of experience. They overestimate user fads, see revolution everywhere, and they make this kind of error a thousand times before they learn better. In times of revolution, though, the experienced among us make the opposite mistake. When a real, once-in-a-lifetime change comes along, we are at risk of regarding it as a fad"
Shirky sees cooperation as more difficult than sharing because it requires behavior synchronization -- and collective action harder still because it requires the commitment to the group and group governance, "or, put another way, rules for losing." He states that as a group grows arithmetically the complexity grows logarithmically. More people, more potential problems.
One potential solution to cooperation is shared awareness. He states that shared awareness in collective action has three levels: 1) When everybody knows something; 2) When somebody knows what everybody knows; 3) When everybody knows that everybody knows. For example, he talked about how radios transformed German Panzer tanks from military hardware into a new form of coordinated weapon, while the French saw tanks as accessories to infantry units. And today Internet apps are more pervasive and powerful than Walkie Talkies.
On a human level, Shirky shows how Social Media and the Internet is changing the way we interact, and how reciprocity, altruism, and even love are central in this new world. He even says that the Internet is making the physical world and relationships more important than ever. For these values to succeed, however, he states the need for social density and continuity, factors present in social media and in big cities. Shirky also tips his hat to Gladwell's work in the Tipping Point, which points to the value of mavens, connectors and salespeople (a hypothesis recently contested, however, through a research by Duncan J Watts PhD that indicates good ideas are actually the keys to memes going viral).
Following along on the human trail, Shirky explains Dunbar research indicating that human beings can only have about 150 meaningful relationships, and that the way these dense interrelationships interact can enhance or slow progress. Dunbar sets the stage for Metcalfe's Law, which says, "The value of the network grows with the square of its users" so when you double the size of the network, you quadruple the number of potential connections. Metcalfe's Law is the topped by David Reed's Law, which says that the value of the group actually grows exponentially since groups can splinter into numerous subgroups. As a category these theories are related to Power Laws, which include Zipps Law and the 80/20 Rule. All of this is seriously academic stuff, but when you think about it these theories explain the growth of Google, The Huffington Post and Facebook -- and why big established companies are valuable but have a hard time innovating.
Given the theoretical fixed limit of 150 meaningful human relationships, one of Shirky's solutions for the problem of Collective Action is to use connectors as ambassadors to different small groups. This is what cross-functional leaders and managers traditionally do, so it would be good to hear more about the behavioral nuances he sees. If you know of such work, send it to me @ideafood on Twitter.
This book has also made me curious about what new interpersonal behaviors this technology is creating and requiring on an individual level. How will the Internet, Social Media and Games lead to new behaviors at home work and school? What new behaviors are needed? He hints at this with his most recent book, Cognitive Surplus, which envisions could happen if people stopped watching mind-numbing TV and started doing things like write Wikipedia pages or Amazon book reviews.
And Here Comes Everybody does have interesting thoughts about business operations. Shirky says, "All businesses are media businesses, because whatever else they do, all businesses rely on managing information for two audiences -- employees and the world." He adds further, " In economic terms, capital is a store of wealth and assets; social capital is that store of behaviors and norms in any large group that lets its members support one another." Once old costs are shed, time and money can be applied to different things.
He also talks about innovation, with the value of networks as a foundation: "It's not how many people you know, it's how many kinds," and then he extols the advantages of cognitive diversity for innovation. At the same time, organizations have a difficult time innovating, because creative people are harder to manage, disruptive, and difficult to compensate, and they often don't scale well. And then there is the natural human tendency to destroy things, which Shirky believes is because destruction is easier than construction. As he says, "Anything that increases the cost of doing something reduces what gets done," and doing nothing is always easiest. The cherry on top is the personal interests and rivalries at play with regard to new ideas. Little wonder that Machiavelli advised against doing new things! Yet the world requires it more than ever.
One buried solution for innovation is simplicity. He says, "Communication tools don't become socially interesting until they become technologically boring." I love this line.
What Here Comes Everybody did not predict is that Twitter and Facebook would be used as tools to overthrow despots in Arab lands. Although Shirky did lay-out the theoretical groundwork for the multi-billion dollar valuations of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon and Zenga. Now Flipboard and Zite are putting further pressure on traditional media. A lot has happened since this book came out three years ago in 2009.
It makes me wonder, "Where things will be three years from now in 2014?"
Maybe Clay Shirky will tell us on another book. In the meantime, here are some other books on the Internet worth reading:
Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace (Helix Books)
The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition
Shirky rocks. 99% of the About the New Ways of things type books are either repetitive, weak or otherwise simply suck. Other reviewers have pointed out places where he's missed a couple of references or been repetitive of other work. This is usually true of any non-fiction which has research within it's basis. Shirky's themes and concepts though, are truly well presented and add something to the perspective on today's social media. If you've ever heard Clay Shirky speak, you can tell fairly quickly he's the real deal. I especially like the way he weaves in Transaction Cost Theory, (from Ronald Coase's Theory of the Firm in 1937), as related to Social Media. I've always liked this theory for other general business reasons, but it makes solid sense here. Here's a favorite passage from the book. (This one doesn't have to do with transaction costs, but rather, helps frame the 'why' around why what's going on now may be a confusing sort of change.
"The social urge to share information isn't new. Prior to e-mail and weblogs, we clipped articles and published family newsletters. Recalling these older behaviors, it's tempting to conclude that our new tools are merely improvements on existing behaviors; this view is both right and wrong. The improvement is there, but it is an improvement so profound that it creates new effects. Philosophers sometimes make a distinction between a difference in degree (more of the same) and a difference in kind (something new). What we are witnessing today is a difference in the degree of sharing so large it becomes a difference in kind."
So here's the thing... I think people do get confused by these sorts of things. They don't necessarily see the fundamental aspects of certain changes because they may think they've already happened. (Kind of like the proverbial frog who doesn't get out of the pot as due to the slowly rising temperature, he doesn't realize the water is boiling.)
There is a fair amount of anecdotal filler in the book. But that could just be me since I work in the industry and already knew a lot of the stories. But in general, if you're someone who doesn't quite understand why people contribute in social media, this is a book you should read. If you're in any kind of business doing any kind of online marketing at all and you don't get this stuff yet, it's a book you need to read.
Top reviews from other countries
Como estão mudando profissões, por exemplo, jornalistas e fotógrafos, e o que isso significa.
O que significa o fato de qualquer um poder criar conteúdo, publicar conteúdo e interagir com o conteúdo. Ex: Wikipedia, Twitter.
A mudança de filter than publish para publish than filter.
O tempo de adoção da tecnologia, do momento em que é lançada, até se tornar ubíqua e finalmente invisível.
São lições valiosas e o processo de desenvolvimento dos argumentos é recheado de histórias marcantes que simbolizam este período de transição que estamos vivendo para um mundo inteiramente conectado.
Shirky vergleicht die Transformation durch das World Wide Web und soziale Netzwerke mit den Umwälzungen durch die Erfindung des Buchdrucks. Die geringen Kosten einer Online-Publikation, die Geschwindigkeit der Kontaktaufnahme und die weltweiten Verbindungsmöglichkeit schaffen Verhältnisse, in denen sich spontan Gruppen mit speziellen Anliegen bilden können. Der Autor sieht das positiv und verbindet damit die Hoffnung, dass es Diktaturen in Zukunft schwerer haben.
Nun gut – das Buch wurde in der Zeit vor WikiLeaks und Edward Snowden geschrieben. Damals war die Hoffnung auf freiere Meinungsäußerung noch weit verbreitet. Auch bezieht sich Clay Shirky öfters auf MySpace - jüngere Leser werden das überhaupt nicht kennen, seit sich Facebook so stark verbreitet hat. Die erschreckenden Überwachungstechniken, die seitdem bekannt wurden, sind für ihn daher kein Thema.
In elf Kapiteln, die nur schwach strukturiert sind, untermauert der Autor an zahlreichen Beispielen seine These, das Internet würde zu mehr Freiheit, Wissen und Initiative führen. Ja, Wikipedia ist ein großartiges Beispiel. Ebenso wie Proteste, die online organisiert und bekannt wurden. Auch die Entwicklung von OpenSource Software ist beeindruckend. Dennoch wurden die ungleichen Besitzverhältnisse in den industrialisierten Ländern nicht dadurch gerechter, dass die armen Leute nun bessere Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten haben. Aber das kann ja noch kommen.
Dieses Buch ist eines der wenigen, die sich fundiert mit den gesellschaftlichen Konsequenzen der Mikrocomputer-Revolution beschäftigt. Nach sechs Jahren ist es schon beinahe veraltet. Aus heutiger Sicht ist es viel zu unkritisch gegenüber den ebenfalls neuen digitalen Überwachungsmethoden. Immerhin liefert Clay Shirky viele bedenkenswerte Überlegungen für neue Organisationen im 21. Jahrhundert.
P.S: if you pay attention to the cover, the people come together to shape an arrow.