Benkler writes a very detailed and example rich argument against the rational-actor theory. Counter to the idea that humans will always act in their s...moreBenkler writes a very detailed and example rich argument against the rational-actor theory. Counter to the idea that humans will always act in their short-term best interest, Benkler provides a wealth of examples from evolutionary biology, psychology, anthropology, and computer science to show how other motivations often surpass self-interest in guiding our decision making.
Notes on finishing the book: This is a timely and important book. Benkler presents a unceasingly rational argument for cooperation and sharing. This argument is a counter-balance to the cries of "Socialist!" coming from the political right, but Benkler avoids that framing of the issue and sticks to research-based arguments against the point of view that asserts humans *only* act in short-term self interest, so our systems should be designed to reflect that.
Benkler presents a much broader view of human motivation and makes a compelling and sound argument that most humans pursue cooperation some of hte time and many humans pursue cooperation most of the time, so designing social systems that take these motivations into account help us build, not just more cooperative, but more efficient and more productive systems.
The combination of timely argument and meticulously sourced evidence makes this a very important book.(less)
Not a flawless book, but definitely an important book. I've been using it for 3 semesters to teach a class on information architecture and research me...moreNot a flawless book, but definitely an important book. I've been using it for 3 semesters to teach a class on information architecture and research methods and I've yet to find a more recent alternative that addresses what it means to organize and find information in today's context more clearly and practically.(less)
I starting reading the print version of this, stalled out and set it down. Then I picked it up again using the audible.com version.
I found this a very...moreI starting reading the print version of this, stalled out and set it down. Then I picked it up again using the audible.com version.
I found this a very nice continuation of the work he began in Here Comes Everybody. Shirky takes similar research about social uses of media and uses them to explain and shed light on theories of Internet behaviors. Overall, in this volume he expands a general theory that humans have a desire/appreciation of group activity and cooperation. Internet technology and ubiquitious broadband access reduce the cost of cooperation and enable us to engage in this kind of activity more frequently.
I do note that Shirky's work seems to parralel that of Yochai Benkler. Previously, Benkler's work has been much more specialized and harder to access. However, with his publication of The Penguin and the Leviathan, I recommend anyone who is interested in this area of study to read Benkler's work. It is phenomenal. (Shirky's book is pretty good too.)(less)
This collection of personal essays on running is worth reading for runners or fitness enthusiasts. It fails to persuade about "running makes one a bet...moreThis collection of personal essays on running is worth reading for runners or fitness enthusiasts. It fails to persuade about "running makes one a better person". I will keep it in my collection and read it again someday. I like Dugard, but I expect I'll like his book on Africa more.(less)
I'm having trouble figuring out exactly why I like Clay Shirky so much. I have a few candidates for the main reason. First, he tends to have insightfu...moreI'm having trouble figuring out exactly why I like Clay Shirky so much. I have a few candidates for the main reason. First, he tends to have insightful things to say about topics I'm interested in. My favorite thing he has done is his lecture "Ontology is Overrated". However, while I'm not accusing him of being derivative, I can trace many of the ideas I like best in Shirky's work to Yochai Benkler.
So that leads me to think that perhaps what I like best about Shirky's work is his particular genius at finding interesting and revealing examples from which he extrapolates his key insights. In Here Comes Everybody, he tells the story of the lost phone, uses a wonderful comparison of reading social networking to hanging out in the mall. (It's not over-sharing, it's over-listening. On the web, someone like me can complain about vapid noise on Facebook, but if I were at the mall listening in to teens telling their stories it would be clear that I was the creepy one and the kids are just being kids.) From chapter to chapter, Shirky finds good examples and uses them to tease out what he thinks are the key principles.
The third candidate for "Why Nick like Clay Shirky so damn much" is that I tend to agree with his assertions. The printing press *IS* the best comparison for the read/write web. More *is* different. (We're both Internet exceptionalists.)
So, whether it is the quality of his insight, the power of his examples, or the persuasiveness of his conclusions, I tend to be a Shirky fan. Here Comes Everybody is an excellent example of his work and a must-read for anyone trying to make sense of what the current (or formerly current) state of communication technology is doing to us as a society.(less)