Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Good Read: Here Comes Everybody

This summer I'm taking a class on Web 2.0-based Learning and Performance at Florida State University.  As part of the course requirements, I'm currently reading the book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, by Clay Shirky. So far it is a great read.  I wish I had it on my radar screen sooner. The first few chapters are interesting. Shirky uses sociological and economic points-of-view along with common sense examples to explain the growth of online communities.  I'm not even half way through the book yet, but what I've read so far has really brought into perspective how large an impact Web 2.0 tools have had, and will continue to have on how we organize and interact with each other in online communities.  A few key points, I've found interesting so far:

  • Levels of involvement in the Web 2.0 world can be viewed as rungs on a ladder.  The first rung is sharing, the second is cooperation, and the third is collective action.   Collective action empowers communities to bring about change.
  • Groups grow in levels of complexity faster than they grow in size.  The more people there are in a group, the more relationships there are among those people.
  • The growth of personal publishing and communities in the Web 2.0 world can be largely attributed to the drastic collapse of costs that have previously made it impractical.  Think about the effort it would take to organize photo sharing around a specific event.  Now people take their pictures and post them and by using common tags they can all be brought together.
  • Social media used in the workplace fosters a knowledge sharing that is neither directed by management nor driven by profit motives. Instead it is driven by personal interest, which may sometimes benefit a company economically. 
  • Personal communication and formal publishing are blurred in the Web 2.0 world.  I'm a huge hockey fan, I get a lot of my news from following hockey writers on their blogs and on twitter along with reading their articles published through formal media outlets.
  • In the past, organizations could only do what was practical. There options were limited to taking institutional action on something or no action.  Social media tools provide a new alternative; action by loosely structured groups.
  • Web 2.0 tools have enabled the mass amateurization of fields such as journalism and photography.  Someone who is in the right place at the right time may be able to capture a great picture or a story to share even though they are not a professional.
  • Sharing proceeds gathering in the Web 2.0 world.  Traditionally it was the other way around. Communities were formed by people gathering together and then sharing information.
Some of these points may seem obvious, but I find a few of them to be quite profound.   They are helping me reframe my thinking around how I might foster online communities and informal learning opportunities in my work.  Although I haven't finished the book yet, I was too excited not to share some of what I read so far.

1 comment:

  1. Mike, I am still amazed at how quickly groups grow!

    I didn't even think about how we now gather together because of sharing not in order to share. Good points!

    I have to admit that I was not a blogger before this class-didn't blog or follow other's blogs, but I see how it is so popular. Especially as you follow sports blogs-that is a good way to get information and share opinions. I may get addicted by the end of the six weeks...