So Why Am I Writing This Review? It's Because Everybody Made Me Do It.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 8:55PM
Ron Tarro in Books, Internet and Society

(I'm pulling my 2008 review of of Here Comes Everybody onto the blog.  Clay Shirky redefines the structure of information sharing in a way that remains in evidence today. )

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

So why am I writing this review? Well Clay Shirky would probably tell me (in part) that my sharing of perspectives "anchors community" and that sharing also enhances my standing within the community. So I'm helping build our society (Woohoo. I have a high social conscience!!!) while also enhancing my own social standing (Oops. I'm a social climber?). On the other hand ... I may also be an artful evader of real world responsibility (and what could possibly be a more artful evasion of real work than a book review!). Or on the other other hand, I may be a digital Don Quixote always tilting at intellectual windmills, or I simply prioritize poorly and thus waste energy on unimportant matters like Amazon reviews. I dunno. Let's all decide. Such matters are, per the author, to be understood collaboratively.

More seriously, Clay Shirky is examining yours and my willingness to establish an online personae and our willingness to collaborate freely across the internet (eg. including the rationale for my spending a moment to write this review). Conversely, he explains how and why the internet is structuring itself around the ways we naturally interact with each other. Shirky connects these matters to life in describing how we, as members of one or many little societies, now continuously (re)congregate around people, information, projects, and ideas.

Much (digital) ink is already spilled regarding this book. I will just take a step back and note that Mr. Shirky is chronicling an interesting parallel evolution of the Internet. The internet continues (on the surface anyway) to shift to where the money is: as a global platform for delivering monetized content. Like the old television networks, today's internet content providers of various ilk have created "walled gardens" and private streams of content through their emerging control of end point devices (See Zittrain's "Future of the Internet and How To Stop It" for worries about your cell phone and your television set top box). These providers then create communities for the purpose of monetizing that content (Yes you do Amazon). Social networking technologies are creating the possibiility that we first form our own communities and associations - all for our own reasons - and just like in the real world!. We then individually and collectively introduce and evaluate information within those communities and we collectively enhance and advance that information (or diminish it) - all for reasons distinct from external influence or interest. Clay Shirky details all of this deeply. But most interestingly his insights move us away from a world of often anonymous informational gatekeepers who in his words "filter then publish" and toward a world of infinite individual media sources (you and me) whose generated information is "published then filtered" by trusted individuals and groups. The result is an ever-richer base of information leavened with supporting context and perspective.

Read this book to understand what's sociologically so interesting about Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, and the such. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations   Like most of my favorite authors, Clay Shirky also has a blog
Article originally appeared on The SalientVoice Journal (
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