I became interested in reading this book after hearing the author discuss it on NPR. I was interested in considering it for a class I'm teaching in thI became interested in reading this book after hearing the author discuss it on NPR. I was interested in considering it for a class I'm teaching in the Spring on social change. On the whole, I found it an interesting read. His main thesis is that new technology has allowed for new network structure (in particular open, diffuse peer-to-peer networks) to provide a modern solution to issues faced by both governments and markets (which ofter are structure in hierarchical networks). It's a big idea book in which he explores implications of peer progressive for community, journalism, technology, incentives, governance, and corporations. Although I liked it I'm still not sure how it fits in with my overall course.
The author definitely reads in different areas than I usually do, which I found useful. At the same time, I would have loved to hear his take on/relate his theory to Social Worlds Theory (exemplified in the work of Anselm Strauss and his students), and Social Fields Theory (exemplified by the work of Kenneth Wilkinson and his students). Moreover, some of his discussion of the role of technology in progress could have been really informed by Herbert Blumer's work, Industrialization as an Agent of Social Change. Moreover, there were times that I thought his views of human behavior were a little Pollyanna. For example, I would really like to hear a discussion of free ridership when we're talking about group solution/decision-making/rewarding behavior.
Still, I found it a thought-provoking read. Now on to Fligstein and McAdam's new book, A Theory of Fields, which I am hoping will add an additional layer to this discussion.