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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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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The advent and growth of social media technologies in recent years creates an entirely new ecosystem for communications. As a result, information-age industries (such as newspapers) that depending on the old ecosystem to thrive are gasping. Laws related to freedom of the press and whistle-blowing still depend on outdated definitions of `media' and `journalist'... It's difficult to differentiate between `blogger' and `journalist'... These symptoms the underlying `loss of professional control' newspapers are experiencing in the new ecosystem.
One of the key learnings from Here Comes Everybody is how well social networks thrive through inefficiency. The power of social networks doesn't come from connecting everyone to everyone else. It comes from the power of connecting enough dedicated, like-minded people within huge overwhelming population of passive and inactive peers on any given topic.
Via social media, we've become a thriving microcosm of the infinite monkey theorem, which states "that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare." In Here Comes Everybody you see how chaos feeds the underlying organization that drives social networks.
See the full review here: [...]
One thing that Gladwell does well (sorry, Shirky, but you have a tough yardstick to measure up to) is that each chapter is a (seemingly) unrelated element that, slowly, becomes part of a larger picture. And, when you think you've got it, Gladwell gives you another, unexpected insight. Add his lesser known examples and it is clear why Gladwell is in the position that he is. Read "The Tipping Point" and "Outliers" if you have not, yet.
That said, Shirky is no slacker. His book is solid. Indeed, it moved me from seeing social media as something happening to others to something that I could use to enhance my life. Certainly worth reading, but it made me wish that Gladwell had written it (or at least advised him on it).
It also puts the tools discussion into the proper context: First establish the group's promise, and then select the tool to support the promise. In my experience too many companies are investing in the tools and then trying to figuring out how to create business communities with those tools.
Clay also provides some fascinating insights into what makes a community coalesce: you don't need huge numbers of highly-active people for a community to be effective. Because today's tools remove barriers to participation a small number of highly-involved people can do most of the heavy lifting and "people who care a little can participate a little, while being effective in the aggregate."
Bonus points -- the book is well written, rich in illustrative stories, and well organized.
It's a great audiobook; well-read and well-produced. I'm lovin' it.
I'm not a big reader of "business" books, but I read this cover-to-cover in just a few sittings. I am trying to make sense of this whole "Web 2.0" business and this book clarified, for me, the concept and the practical uses of the technology (i.e. it's not just to be able to see pictures of Aunt Clara's kittie).
The book is filled with real-life stories of how the new social technologies have had real, tangible impacts in modern society.
This book led me to more reading on Web 2. "Here Comes Everybody" is very much a 40,000 foot view. I followed it up with a much more practical day-to-day guide: Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies