Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reading :: Here Comes Everybody

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
By Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody has been discussed widely on tech-oriented sites such as BoingBoing, and for good reason. To be honest, if you read BoingBoing, BuzzMachine, and similar sites, you won't find much new here. But Shirky manages to clearly and elegantly summarize the sorts of shifts that are currently occurring in mass organization and organization as social software and hardware bring down the transaction costs of communication.

The book makes a good summary for those who have already been reading these issues; a good reference for those who want to illustrate it; a manifesto of sorts for those who are thinking through these changes; and a tract for those who want to communicate these changes in organization to others. Shirky discusses networked organizational structures, power law, the fail-faster approach, and similar concepts clearly and simply; he reviews tools and projects such as Twitter, Dodgeball, MeetUp, MySpace, Facebook, and Wikipedia as illustrations of his points, not just as neat services; and he levels precise, common-sense criticisms towards successful-on-paper, failures-in-reality efforts such as MoveOn campaigns to email Congresspeople. I'd recommend this book if you're trying to understand social media yourself or if you want to explain it to someone else.

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