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Read this book! “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky

May 15, 2008

I just finished reading Clay Shirky‘s new book “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations” and I loved it!

Shirky expanded my own thinking about the potential of the age of “Publish then Filter” (no longer “Filter then Publish” as in traditional media). I love how “outside the box” his thinking is, especially his case studies: i.e. Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade makes several appearances in the book as well as on Flickr. (During the nine years I lived in New York, I frequently marched in crazy costumes in the Mermaid Parade and took many photos of everyone.)

Shirky is the latest proselytizer for the unprecedented opportunities for collaboration that have been created by new developments in web-based social tools (i.e. wikis like Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.). I particularly liked how Shirky outlines the three simple rules for the good use of social tools:

  • “The Promise is the basic “why” for anyone to join or contribute to a group.
  • The Tool helps with the “how” – how will difficulties of coordination be overcome or at least held to managebale levels?
  • The Bargain sets the rules of the road: if you are interested in the promise and adopt the tools, what can you expect and what will be expected of you?”

Shirky has made me think hard about how nonprofit organizations can harness the powers of 21st century collaboration to bring about the social change we’d like to see. While his subtitle “The Power of Organizing without Organizations” posits that the need for organizations is quickly diminishing, I wonder if there are ways in which nonprofit and social justice organizations can make themselves relevant in the Digital Age. Maybe it’s facilitating the participation of communities affected by injustice, fostering collaboration and perhaps using social to tools to help dissimilar communities to build new bridges of understanding.

It’s definitely something I’m thinking lots about. New ideas are percolating…

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