Tess's Reviews > Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
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's review
May 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: technology, pop-culture
Read from May 01 to July 15, 2011

Insightful and interesting look a social media. Gives context to any whippersnappers who can't remember life without Twitter. My only complaint is that as it came out in 2008, it seems quite dated now -- which just confirms everything Mr. Shirky says in the book about the moving waters of social media.

I've typed out some favorite passages below.

On Flickr and other sharing sites trumping traditional media:

"Having cameras in the hands of amateurs on the scene was better than having cameras in the hands of professionals who had to travel. ... The basic capabilities of tools like Flickr reverse the old order of group activity, transforming 'gather, then share' into 'share, then gather.'"

On personal blogs:

"And it's easy to deride this sort of thing as self-absorbed publishing -- why would anyone put such drivel out in public? It's simple. They're not talking to you. We misread these seemingly inane posts because we're so unused to seeing written material in public that isn't intended for us. ... On any given day you could go to the food court in a mall and find a group of teenagers hanging out and talking to one another. ... They'd be doing something similar to what they are doing on LiveJournal or Xanga, in other words, but if you were listening in on their conversation at the mall, as opposed to reading their post, it would be clear that you were the weird one."

"Writing things for your friends to read and reading what your friends write creates a different kind of pleasure than writing for an audience."

On the technology of tools:

"Communications tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. ... It's when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen, and for young people today, our new social tools have passed normal and are heading to ubiquitous, and invisible is coming."

On Wikipedia:

"Its very inadequacy motivates people to improve it; many more people are willing to make a bad article better than are willing to start a good article from scratch."

On the desire to "leave a mark:"

"Making a mark on the world is a common human desire. In response to mass-produced technology with no user-serviceable parts inside, we install ringtones and screensavers, as a way to be able to change something about our inflexible tool."

On Meetup.com:

"Meetup's convening power lies not in recreating older civic groups but in creating new ones. The groups represented here can be divided into three road categories .... people who share some religious or philosophical outlook but have no support from the broader US culture ... the members of websites and services who would like to assemble with other users of those services in real life ... fans of cultural icons quirky enough that those fans want to be in one another's presence. ... They represent not just things people do but ways they think of themselves (and other people)."

"Many more people were watching Everybody Loves Raymond in 2002 than were watching Xena: Warrior Princess, but Xena-fandom was a better predictor of real commonality."

"It's easier to like people who are odd in the same ways you are odd but it's harder to find them."

On sharing for posterity:

"An interesting effect of digital archiving is that much casual conversation is now captured and stored for posterity, so it is possible to look back in time and find simple messages whose importance becomes obvious only with the passing of time."

On calculators:

"When I was a teenager, I remember reading letters to the editor in my local paper, where the grown-ups were arguing about whether to allow students to use calculators. The unspoken worry was that since calculators had appeared so suddenly, they might disappear just as suddenly. What none of the grown-ups in that conversation understood was that there would never again be a day when we needed to divide two seven-digit numbers on paper. What seemed to them like a provisional new capability was actually a deep and permanent shift, once we students recognized immediately."

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