SMUG Textbook: Here Comes Everybody

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky.

I read this book more than a year ago, and it has significantly affected my thinking. Shirky’s main point is that complex projects formerly required the overhead of an organization, which meant that there had to be some way of funding that overhead, either through business profits or government taxation. The advent of digital tools has made complex projects possible without the organizational overhead. Some of these, such as Linux or Wikipedia or Craigslist, have seriously challenged or even “beaten” the products of formerly profitable organizations. But these tools have also made it possible to undertake projects that previously weren’t worth doing. In a section he calls “The Tectonic Shift,” Shirky explains:

For most of modern life, our strong talents and desires for group effort have been filtered through relatively rigid institutional structures because of the complexity of managing groups. We haven’t had all the groups we’ve wanted, we’ve simply had all the groups we could afford. The old limits of what unmanaged and unpaid groups can do are no longer in operation; the difficulties that kep self-assembled groups from working together are shrinking, meaning that the number and kinds of things groups can get done without financial motivation or managerial oversight are growing.

You will find traces of Here Comes Everybody in many of the 35 Social Media Theses. I highly recommend it to all SMUGgles.

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