Clay Shirky is an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His work addresses the interrelated effects of social networks and technological networks – how our networks shape culture and vice-versa.
Here Comes Everybody is, in Shirky’s words, about “what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organizational structures”.
Mixing key concepts in behavioural science and technology with real-life examples from around the world, the book investigates how people are using and adapting social media and how it’s impact is being felt far beyond the virtual world: when the residents of Sichuan, China began reporting an earthquake using twitter, instant messaging, photos and videos on mobile phones etc, they started a chain of events that exposed not only the scale of disaster but also a scandal in local construction that led to unprecedented scenes of protest against the local government.
For me, one quote seems to encapsulate the book’s message – ‘Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies – it happens when society adopts new behaviours’.
There are plenty more great ideas in here to help readers understand and become a part of the changes that are underway;
Conversation and broadcast – the idea that networks and message feeds like twitter and Facebook contain both localised conversations between groups of friends and large audience broadcasts aimed at anyone who is listening.
Publish then filter – because it’s so easy and cheap to publish now, much more material reaches the public domain, this puts the onus on readers to filter the good from the bad and the useful from the irrelevant. Something that was once the role of editors and publishers.
Promise, tools, bargain – the likely process for many new social media projects. Set up the vision first and get people’s support, develop the appropriate tools, then (continuously) work to demonstrate and deliver a worthwhile return for their participation and support.
Monitoring and reaction, not prevention – social media is too ubiquitous to control, it’s much more practical therefore to develop appropriate tools and procedures for listening and responding to what’s going on in your world.
Here Comes Everybody is engaging, enlightening and thought-provoking, well worth a read for anyone interested in where our communities, communications and cultures are likely to be heading in the future.